September 13th, 2014

Our September 2014 10 Week Expedition Begins!


Our September 2014 10 week expedition is underway! This morning the final members of the team touched down as we loaded onto the TP bus and made the journey along Fiji’s sun-drenched Queens road. After a stop in Suva to pick up supplies and have some lunch, the journey continued to the landing, where we were onto the boats for the 45 minute crossing to our stunning briefing location of Leleuvia island. After a big day of travel the team were quickly into the sea for a snorkel and swim, and tonight they will enjoy a traditional ‘lovo’ feast as a first taste of some fantastic local foods.

The next 3 days shall then include a briefing on the project aims and initiatives from our Community Development Advisors, group workshops with the expedition leader team, snorkelling trips, volleyball games and time to relax and settle into South Pacific life. On Tuesday the team shall then make the 2 hour crossing to their project island of Gau, where their new home of Nukuloa Village awaits!

September 11th, 2014

IRB Rugby 7s Level 1 – Think Pacific staff gain international coaching qualification to assist youth & sports development in Fiji!

Copy of IRB 7s Level 1

This week Think Pacific’s Expedition Leaders Tommy and Danny, and Youth & Sports Leaders Nemani and Solomone, attending a 1 day IRB Rugby 7s Level 1 workshop at the Uprising Beach Resort in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. The course was run by the South Pacific’s leading IRB Educator Mr Franck Boivert, and covered a number of topics regarding the implementation of Rugby 7s coaching and training, in order to foster development of the game within players from the grass roots level, to elite rugby.

The morning included seminars on the core values and principles of Rugby, the key facets of attack and defence, and the functional roles of the individual players and positions, including video analysis sessions in small groups to apply the knowledge gained. In the afternoon it was a field session, as each member picked a particular skill area to focus upon and was asked to run a training drill, which was then assessed and critiqued in order to fully understand the principles of delivering a session. With the Fiji 7s team currently training at the Uprising Resort there was also an opportunity to watch a period of their session, and to discuss coaching elements with the Head Coach Mr Ben Ryan, which proved a fantastic insight for our staff!

With youth and sports development in rural areas a key aim of Think Pacific’s volunteer projects and funding assistance, the course was incredibly valuable to our staff team here in the Fiji islands as we develop further our Sports Outreach and ‘Educate the Educator’ modules. We would also like to thank Mr Boivert and the IRB for providing this opportunity to up-skill and acredit our staff members here in Fiji, and we look forward to further courses in the future!

September 5th, 2014

TP Testimonials – ‘The very best experience of my life!’, by Gau April 2014 volunteer Ruth

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Flying out to Fiji to volunteer with Think Pacific was the scariest thing I had ever done. As the start date drew closer I couldn’t see a way I was ever going to survive the project. Life in Fiji showed just how wrong I could be as it was the very best experience of my life!

One of my biggest fears was meeting the other volunteers. I had nothing to worry about, they were a group of 19 determined and hard-working individuals and also the craziest and funniest bunch of people I have ever met. The castaway briefing was the perfect chance for us all to get to know each other through games of beach volleyball, snorkelling and hilarious attempts at paddleboarding.

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We were well prepared to enter the village having written practice lesson plans, learnt about Fijian customs and drunk our first bowls of grog. The villagers of Vadravadra greeted us with the warmest of welcomes providing us with mountains of cakes and endless cups of tea. Their hospitality lasted for the whole trip as they continued to cook us the most delicious food, wash our clothes and teach us traditional skills such as basket weaving and bilo carving.

Over the coming weeks we took turns to work on build and in school and Kindi. Starting in school threw me in at the deep end because the teacher of Class 7 left me alone to teach an English lesson but as the week progressed and with the support of our leaders I found my feet and taught The Tempest. Teaching Shakespeare had been one of my goals for the project and using a play set on an island filled with magic and monsters seemed to appeal to the children and allowed us to do creative writing, class reading and art. Helping Class 8 with their Maths and Personal Finance lessons tested me as much as them and I relished the chance to introduce them to Drama. In order to bring their English unit on cinema to life, I helped them to create their own short films. Creating the stories led to some rather risqué plot twists but the class enjoyed writing the scripts, making props (including a giant car) and starring in their own films. Their teacher, Master Joe, supported my work throughout the project and said that now he had seen how Drama lessons worked he would try and make them regular lessons on the next year’s curriculum.

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I spent my last two weeks on project in Kindi, introducing the themes of transport and explorers to the children. We used art, songs, books and games to help teach the children something new. In the first week the children loved making aeroplanes and hot air balloons but their highlight seemed to be making and painting paper boats which we then took down to the beach and set sail. In our last week we coloured treasure maps, drew pirate ships, constructed castles and built a den. We went on the hunt for palm branches and bits of wood before tying stars to the ceiling of our creation and using it as the setting for our reading time. Kindi was never dull and I always enjoyed it, even when having toothpaste spat on my feet during the chaos that was “toothbrush time”.

The build project taught me many skills and my initial worries about not being physically strong enough were put to rest as I was given jobs appropriate to my skill level. With motivational music blasting out of John’s speakers and regular tea breaks we were able to power through and build a whole set of new toilets for the village. Painting the toilet doors was very fun and Sara, Pippa and I were lucky enough to paint the door of our family’s toilet. We added our handprints to a circle made up of the handprints of our family and wrote Ne noqu vuvale vakadua which means forever a family.

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Writing about all of our adventures in Fiji would take up so much space but our non-stop schedule saw us run holiday camps, attend church, lead a health walk and first aid class, run fundays, go trekking, play rugby and netball, learn Fijian card games and drink plenty of grog.

Our last few days in the village were full of goodbyes as the school held a party for us and we sang Coldplay’s The Scientist in church. Our last night in Vadravadra coincided with the 100 Nights celebration and so our houses were full of family and friends from other villages. In order to feed everyone the whole village went fishing and we spent 3 hours in the water pulling on a rope of leaves to scare the fish into a giant net. For a while it seemed like we weren’t going to catch anything but all of a sudden we were stood shoulder to shoulder as hundreds of fish swam into our net, it was incredible. The whole village was buzzing as we stayed up all night feasting, drinking grog, playing cards and dancing the hop-hop. Our wild night meant we were up to watch the beautiful sunrise as we reflected on our incredible 8 weeks in the village.

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R & R helped us to slowly readjust to everyday life. We took this chance to celebrate the experience with our friends and think about how much fun we had had. In spite of tiredness, early mornings, funny tummies, tricky Meke steps and some very strong grog we had all had the most amazing time. Back at home I am still in touch with my Fijian family and introducing my English one to the culinary delights of Fiji. I will never forget the time I spent in the village and am pretty sure I will continue to start sentences saying “It’s like this time when I was in Fiji…”

August 30th, 2014

Sports Camp – Week 2 – Relay Races, National Sporting Clinics, National Fire Authority & ‘Competition Day’!

Blog - Week 2 - Pic 1

Once again it has been an action packed and fun filled week at the ‘Sports Camp’ programme, with more than 50 children joining us daily at the Fiji Sports Council facilities!

For the morning activities our staff team and local youth volunteers introduced relay races focusing upon different core skills, and these races provided a fantastic opportunity to practice some of the key skill-related fitness techniques taught in week 1. With fun elements including hopping, leaping, dribbling, shooting and leap frogging the kids were kept on their toes, and the competition element amongst the groups provided for entertainment and excitement!

Sports Camp - August 2014 - Day 7 (4)

Each day we continued to welcome new national sporting federations to Sports Camp for their intro sessions with the kids, and this week we were extremely pleased to host development officers from Fiji Volleyball and Fiji Baseball for their clinics, whilst the Fiji Rugby Union returned with tag rugby once again.

To provide the students with the opportunity to learn and play these new sports is a fantastic initiative, and very quickly we could see interest and talent amongst the kids when participating.

Sports Camp - August 2014 - Day 8 (13)

The Sports Camp team were also privilieged this week to host the Fiji National Fire Authority, who captured the childrens’ imaginations with a demonstration of the truck and fire hose, before offering some vital education on fire safety, which included a practice run through an inflatable house which was interesting and intruiging for all!

The ‘Learn to Swim’ programme was also in full swing once again, with the non-swimmers learning the basics within the water of floatation, leg kicks and arm strokes from the FSC intstructors, whilst our swimmers focused on correcting and refining their strokes, and some fun races and competitions in the pool.

Sports Camp - August 2014 - Final Day (24)

As a finale to the 2 week Sports Camp programme, Friday was ‘Competition Day’, with the kids split into 6 teams to compete across Football, Volleyball and Netball. With the staff and volunteers leading their brave warriors into the ‘theatre of dreams’ there was a buzz of excitement on the courts, and as the teams rotated between the stations the kids were able to demonstrate their flair and skill across the sports!

It has been a truly fantastic 2 weeks at the Sports Camp programme, and Think Pacific feels privileged to be sponsoring and assisting with such a worthwhile initiative for youth and sports development in Fiji. We would like to thank the Fiji Sports Council and the Fiji National Sports Commission for their partnership, the Covenant Brothers Youth Group for their support in leading the daily programme with our staff team, and of course the kids for their energy, enthusiasm and smiles throughout. We very much look forward to seeing everyone in December for the Term 3 Sports Camp programme!

August 29th, 2014

Fiji ‘Business House’ Competitions – TP-FNSC Table Tennis Team

Copy of Business House Table Tennis - British American Tabacco

Think Pacific has entered its first ‘Business House’ Competition here in the Fiji Islands, joining our partner the Fiji National Sports Commission in the Table Tennis league. With more than 80 organisations and business competing weekly, the events prove a fantastic opportunity to play in a fun and social environment, whilst raising funds for sporting organisations and their development.

After suffering successive losses in previous weeks last night our team snatched a dramatic 5-4 victory over British American Tabacco, and we look forward to continuing our winning streak when the competition kicks off once again next Thursday evening!

We also look forward to supporting and promoting further competitions in the future, providing funding opportunities for other sports through participation in these fantastic events. You can follow our teams progress through our Twitter page @thinkpacific!

August 28th, 2014

Moturiki Team – A proud day as new Wawa village Health Clinic is officially opened!

Pic 1 - Build Opening

On Saturday morning the brand new Wawa village Health Clinic was officially opened, which was an extremely proud moment for the elders and villagers of this small island community, for the Ministry of Health, and for our volunteer team!

Following weeks of great effort and commitment on the build project, and with the finishing touches completed, everyone gathered around the building for the official ceremony. There were speeches from the Ratu of Wawa, from the Divisional Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health, and from our very own Expedition Leader Benji, before the island priest blessed the clinic with a word of prayer. The ribbon was then cut and the doors swung open, as the Wawa village health worker had a new home!

Week 4 - Build Opening (6)

The villagers and team then made their way to the community hall, where a huge feast had been prepared for all to enjoy to mark the occassion. It was then time to celebrate in true ‘Fiji style’, as everyone came together to drink a few bowls of kava and to enjoy the music and ‘hop hop’ into the night!

Week 4 - Build Opening (2)

Think Pacific would like to say a big thank you to the wonderful and kind hearted people of Wawa village, who made their community such an incredible home for our team, and to all those on Moturiki Island who made the experience so special over the past 4 weeks. And of course to our volunteer team, who leave behind a lasting legacy for their efforts and commitment to development on the island…’vinaka vaka levu’!