July 24th, 2014

Volunteer Stories – Village feasts, Rugby and Netball contests, boat escapades and Whale watching for our team on Nairai during village visit to Waitoga & Vutuna! by Rachel & Megan

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After a crazy week, we headed to Waitoga for an overnight adventure. As we travelled along in the village’s rustic fishing boat the TP team watched the sunset over the horizon. Upon arrival in the dark, head torches at the ready, we were welcomed warmly in to our second surrogate home on the island of Nairai. The Sevu Sevu was presented, the food demolished, the grog gulped and the hop-hop commenced… After stumbling home in the pitch black due to pot holes, seeing the village in the morning was a pleasant surprise.

After the villagers kindly prepared a large spread for breakfast; the TP team stocked up on nutrients in the form of doughnuts, pancakes and crackers with jam, and the day began. Leaving our second home behind we trekked to the village of Vutuna, where a second Sevu Sevu was performed in honour of our arrival. We finally arrived at the school to play some sports, the whole purpose of the trip, with the boys challenging the locals in rugby and the girls in netball.

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The TP guys showed serious commitment against the tough Fijians, with sport really being their forte, but retired as broken men… we were proud nonetheless. However, the girls shone bright with Jenna leading the way in her scoring ability and the teams much improved effort and performance. Fran used methods of intimidation and her height advantage against the competitive goal shooter, an eight year old child. On the other hand, Gemma… still needs to learn the rules! The improvement from our drastic thrashing last week was seriously impressive and we are determined to win at least one game on our four week expedition.

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All smelling as badly as each other due to an active morning, we headed for lunch at Vutuna and didn’t they pull out all the stops! The team’s faces were a real picture when an angel in the form of a Fijian lady brought out a chocolate cake; they clearly knew how to win us over.

The boat journey home was an interesting one, with many of the TP crew taking time to reflect over their time on Nairai with it nearly being the half way mark. Suddenly, the team jumped to life as a whale emerged on the horizon… no joke! It was there, it was big and it was real. With excitement in the air, speeding on home, disaster struck! The boats engine cut out and we were stranded until the second boat sailed on past. The whole five minutes of being stranded was a scary and traumatic moment for the TP survivors compared to the carefree locals. Grabbing a tow aka a few brave Fijians straddling both boats we cruised on home at the grand total speed of 1 mile per hour. As we saw the shore, the one night slumber party on the other side of the Island had clearly taken a toll, and we were glad to be back home!

July 23rd, 2014

Volunteer Stories – Week 2 Update; Build, Kindi & House Cup fun for our Nairai team in Tovulailai village! by ‘Asaeli’ & Ella


Week 2 has been and gone quicker than a “low tide” bowl of grog (the smallest amount one is allowed to drink) and we’re now almost halfway through our project. As good as the week has been, it hasn’t been without its lows as I think we have only had one morning with a full contingent due to the early project sickness bug that affects every volunteer at some point during their stay, but there have certainly been plenty of highs.

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The build has advanced leaps and bounds this week going from a few planks of wood nailed together to looking like a proper building. The frames were put up on Wednesday after our first lot of laying cement. Never before have I realised how lucky we are to have cement mixers at home!! Mixing all the ‘ingredients’ to our ‘chili con carne’ with just a few spades was very labour intensive. On Friday the frames were completely finished with all of the last bits of wood being bashed in with the few nails left that hadn’t been bent by poor hammering skills to increase the strength of the structure.

Our second batch of concrete was finished off late on Friday with the assistance of the local villagers so now we have a week of digging ahead of us it seems with a big hole for the septic tank needed! Towards the end of the week tiredness was kicking in and morale was dropping so it was time for James’ iPhone to come out for the first time and some soul classics soon lifted the mood!

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As for kindi, we had a turbulent week but for the first full week of Kindi it was quite successful and full of fun and laughter. From the build, it seemed like all they did was sing the Hokey Kokey which was a major favourite with the kids but Ella assures me that they did do other things! The theme of the week was to teach them the alphabet however the idea sounded easier than it turned out to be! Alongside the pictures of crabs, letters of the alphabet and numbers up to 20 spanning the community hall interior is the toothbrush club chart. After mid-morning tea, toothbrush club commences; leaders and kids alike get their toothbrushes and toothpaste at the ready and cluster around the closest tap, mouths foaming. After a successful spit the kids are rewarded with a sticker, the highlight of their day. They take great pride in affixing their sticker next to their name on the chart!

We lost 2 of the kids midweek as they left for a 5 month trip to the mainland. We experienced a number of tantrums and disappearing acts throughout the week but ’sega na lega’, we pulled through with a great Friday full of messy hand and feet painting – and no one wetting themselves!

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In the afternoons we did the first round of the house cup – art – followed by sport. The two houses were named the Dragons and Dolphins (Dragons for the win) and we were given the theme of ‘about me’ so the children had one week to draw pictures of themselves, their house, family and hobbies and what they want to be in the future. The dolphins pipped the competition this week but we had to give them a bit of a headstart! This week also saw the start of our sports coaching with the littl’uns doing dodgeball, older girls playing hockey and older boys playing cricket. They all seemed to enjoy trying sports other than the Fijian favourites of rugby and netball but the boys especially were getting more and more aggressive the longer they went without rugby!! All the kids here seem to be good at whatever sport they turn their hand to, if only it was the same with the TP crew!

So with the sound of lapping waves and the buzz of the mosquitoes it’s time for us to venture out to the hall for yet another grog sesh, maybe stopping midway to gaze at the stars, which by the way are incredible here… Over and out, Asaeli and Ella.

July 22nd, 2014

Koro Team – Volunteers celebrate an unforgettable 8 weeks with Kade villagers, and bid an emotional farewell to their incredible family and friends within this wonderful community!

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It has been a truly unforgetable 8 weeks for our Youth and Sports volunteer team in Kade village on Koro island, and it proved a fitting end to the project to come together one last time in the community hall for a classic Fijian feast, speeches, traditional mekes, and of course many many bowls of grog and ‘hop hop’ fun!

As the festivities began the Headmaster of Kade Vilage School said a few words of thanks to the team for their help and assistance in implementing and inspiring development within the schools, after which a word of prayer was said before the feast began. After dinner the Kade school children performed their mekes for the team, which was a treat to see, before the volunteers stepped up for their own traditional meke performances. The team quickly got into the spirit of the occassion and put on a great show for the village, who were all cheering and shrieking with laughter whilst throwing sweets!

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It was then a quick change into their formal dresses, sulus and bula shirts for our team as they returned to the hall for the presentation of our traditional ‘tatau’ ceremony, as we bid farewell to Kade. This was also a poignant moment for the group, as they said thank you to their family and friends of the village, often through teary eyes. The last 2 months had been filled with moments, and it was clear for all just how much the team would miss their new home on Koro Island.

There was no better way to end our time in Kade village than with a grog and hop hop party, and so after the reflections of the team and villagers, everyone sat together to drink a few bowls, listen to the guitars, and dance the final night away together! We would like to say a heartfelt ‘vinaka vaka levu’ to the community of Kade, to the Kade and Nabasovi School staff, the students, and all those on Koro who created such memories for our volunteer team…’sota tale’!

July 21st, 2014

Nairai Team – A great day exploring as volunteers trek to Nairai’s secret paradise!

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Saturday saw the team make their way to a hidden waterfall behind Lawaki village. With the Fijian mums stocking up some lunchboxes for everyone, the team was ready for a day out in Nairai’s secret paradise. After following the trail to Lawaki via Davetarau Primary school, we then entered new territory as we ventured off path to hike up the hill. It didn’t take too long before we could hear the sound of water which was a comforting sound that we were in the right direction. We followed the stream up until it meandered into the rock pools sitting beneath a tall waterfall. With the sun shining bright, it was a welcome opportunity to jump into the water and cool down!

After our waterfall picnic, we headed to the top of the waterfall to enjoy more rock pools as well as a spectacular view of the surrounding area. Before heading home, we stopped off in Lawaki for some watermelon and snacks. As the sun set on the horizon, we made our way home for some well earnt rest with smiles across our faces!

July 21st, 2014

Koro Team – Youth initiatives reach epic climax at Nabasovi & Kade Schools as students compete in House Cup finals on Koro Island!

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After 8 weeks of diverse youth initiatives across both Nabasovi District and Kade Village Schools on Koro island, the much anticipated ‘House Cup Finals’ were upon us, with the volunteers and students competing in public speaking, singing and sports as they chased the coveted trophy!

At Nabasovi there were a number of highlights throughout the day. During the house singing it was Anna and Will, with their team of kids, who stole the show with their rendition of Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’, whilst James, Theo and Paiges’ house claimed the public speaking points as their year 8 speaker recited the prologue to ‘Romeo and Juliet’….Shakespeare himself would have been proud! The overall winners however were Mike and Hannahs’ House, who claimed the cup after romping home to take the title in the sports, which also saw a hilarious attempt at the hurdles from classes 1 and 2! Following the house cup trophy presentation the volunteer team then led a prize giving ceremony, recognsing achievements amongst the students across the youth initiatives.

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At Kade Village School the tension had been building throughout the weeks, with the Red House vs Blue House reaching new levels of competiveness! Throughout the competition elements it was too close to call, with each house picking up victories in the public speaking and singing, and so it all came down to the sports competition on the final day…and what a finale it proved to be. As the dust settled it was Blue House claiming the sports prize, and with it the House Cup trophy, who were cheered on throughout by Hannah, Mike, James, Paige and Theo!

We would like to thank the students of Nabasovi District School and Kade Village School for their commitment and enthusiasm throughout the house cup competition, and of course our volunteer team for their desire for victory, as this allowed the youth initiatives to be so successfull across the project!

July 21st, 2014

Koro Team – An early birthday celebration for Hannah and Paige as Kade village throw fantastic party in final days!

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With Hannah and Paige both celebrating their birthdays just a few days after leaving their home of Kade village, the community were eager to throw them a party so that they could celebrate together. And what a night it was!

Their family made them the traditional ‘masi’ dress to wear for the occassion, whilst also bringing cakes and ice creams from the mainland as very special treats for the girls. A village celebration often brings an unbelievable feast, and true to tradition there was pork being prepared, as well as chicken, fish and lots of other tasty Fijian dishes. The villagers had also taken the time to set up a small “shed” just outside the house, and after finishing the incredible feast, the team and community made their way outside to enjoy many bowls of grog and some ‘hop hop’ late into the night! It was a night to remember for Hannah, Paige and the whole team, as a birthday in a Fijian village is like no other!