During our final week and a half on Batiki we did our best to experience all we could. Reaping the rewards of our hard work we sang, danced and cried arm in arm with the villagers.
Our project day has included adding a decorative touch to the build, wrapping up our time in school and celebrating the end of a successful kindi program. Outside of that we had some momentous events to attend with the opening ceremony of Naigani’s community hall, the fun day and the farewell Church service.
Kindi was the first feature of project to come to an end. Tommy, Willy and Alice took it upon themselves to throw a worthy party. In doing so, it was out of the kindi and down to the beach to play musical statues, musical bumps and build sand castles. The kids had a ball, true to the nature of kindi over the past two months. Well done team!!! Also a big Vinaka vaka levu to Tara for your help over the past 8 weeks.
In the four day week at school, a mix of the team opted to flirt between classes to soak up their remaining time as teachers. With Madame Louisa away for the week the efforts of Ellen in teaching class 1 & 2 epitomized the passion the team has displayed throughout.
Rehearsals of the three legged race, obstacle course, wheel barrows and relays destined for an intense sports day. Our final day out on the BDS field saw the children compete for the pivotal house sports points under glorious sunshine. Again Ti Tui provided sensational entertainment whilst being wheel barreled, sorry barrowed. What a gem he is!
In the afternoon of our last day at school we hosted a nail biting house quiz. Following the questions to students from each class the winning house was decided by the TP round. All came down to Hannah of Logo logo and Tommy of Vono answering the final question…’What is the combined age of the team?’. Vono performed better under the pressures of the crowd and walked away with the victory and…the infamous house cup title!
The farewell and TP awards assembly was just one of the many moving moments in our last few days on the island. Having selected those who had worked the hardest we handed out awards in endeavor, academic excellence and sporting excellence to the children. Which was responded to by speeches from the teachers, the children singing a spine tingling rendition of ‘Swing Low’ and presenting each member of the team with a handmade souvenir.
Giving the final coat of paint to the outside and roof in the early days of week 8 we set about the inside. Once doing so, it was then left to Ellen to complete her logo inside our nicknamed ‘house of blues’.
With the build project signed off it was time for us to celebrate our efforts with those we had lived and worked alongside for the past eight weeks. The official hand over of the build was on Friday with the opening ceremony beginning in the afternoon. Having decorated the inside with mats, curtains and its center piece (the kava bowl) the hall looked stunning. Fijian warriors were present to guard Sarah who presented Ratu the scissors to cut the rope following his sincere speech. His praise for the team and how they have become immersed as part of the Naigani community was extremely moving.
With the rope cut, a traditional kava ceremony undertaken and a cake cut (how could there not be cake involved!), the hall was set to enjoy. And enjoy the team did, consuming the rewards of their physical legacy in high tides and giggles long into the night.
Saturday’s event was exactly what it said on the tin. Preparing through the morning the team hosted a fun day in the afternoon with stalls, games and cakes to raise money for the village. Down on the beach, Amber sold friendship bracelets, Rachel and Sarah painted nails, Ellen and Hannah painted faces, Tommy, Alice, Caroline sold Cakes, Tom, Mike and Will rotated as goalkeeper on the penalty shootout whilst Rory and Phil were at the top of the drain pipe for smack the rat. Capping off a sensational day was a family volleyball competition, each household of the village entered into a round robin competition. Every member of the community out on the beach, including the elders, was what made the day.
The team truly understood the social impact they had experienced themselves and, the village also on Sunday. Naigani’s church was awash with tears following the emotional speeches/poems of thanks from the families and in response, the team. With four evening practices under our belt in the week, the final note sang in church was the team’s, separating into their choir groups they smashed a phenomenal performance of Khumbaya to culminate an overwhelming morning.
Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday! Our final day as members of the Naigani community was quite a day. Heading out to the bay in the morning the team enjoyed a good few hours swimming and playing volleyball before tucking into a picnic feast of barbequed fish and lovo cassava. In the evening, the team met in the hall for what turned into an all-night session of kava, the band and hop-hop. Having nipped out to watch their last sunrise together the team sprinted back into the party when hearing the strums of one last ‘Fijian boy’ song.
Shaking the hands of each villager as the team walked out of the beach and onto the boat is sure to be an image not easily forgotten. Least to say, the days spent as the sons, daughters, brothers and sisters of Naigani shall live forever.
Kicking back in the hammocks of the Beachouse the team reminisce the last eight weeks. Putting some perspective to what a time they were treated to by the people of Batiki.
Thank you Naigani. Thank you Batiki.