Archive for the ‘Volunteer stories’ Category

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

Volunteer Testimonial – ‘The activities that we have been doing have pushed me beyond my comfort zone & catapulted me into a king like world!’ by TP Volunteer Sam


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My days, and weeks, have been filled with exhilarating activities; the things that we have been doing have pushed me beyond my comfort zone and catapulted me into a king like world. I feel like the boss!

I remember my first day, when our team had fully settled into the village. We took a 20 person pick up truck and made our way down to the VoliVoli beach and feasted on a big pic-nic. We sang songs, chopped fire wood, grilled fish and prawns we had just caught, ceremonially sipped kava, and explored deep into Fiji’s beautiful coral reefs. The feeling of elation over-came my body as I floated inches above the vibrant coral reefs as the colorful fish darted through the labyrinth of what was the floor of the ocean. The sentence above does not do justice to my expedition into the waters, but it is a feeling unimaginable. I am loving life right now; what are you doing with your life?

Our next major expedition took us to a very hospitable village about ten minutes east of Rakiraki. We were greeted with open arms, warm smiles, a kava ceremony, and a very eager tour guide ready to take us deep into the mountains that border most of the villages on the west side of Viti Levu. About 15 minutes into the jungle, passing kava fields and spiders made up of the things only nightmares are made of, we made it to a towering waterfall that over looked natural springs and two watering pools. It was something out of a Wes Anderson movie; its aesthetic was beautiful.  Because of the the rock formation of the fall, we were able to water slide down the water fall and jump off the two gargantuan cliffs into the water holes. It’s a great feeling to open your arms and soar into a Fijian man’s arms.

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Quiz night is on Monday. The quizmasters were Chris, Jodie and Alice. There were questions in various topics such as film, geography, sports etc. The highlight of the quiz night was the challenge, called pass the mango. We had to pass the mango from chin to chin between team members without dropping it or using hands. The winner of the quiz was Sam, Jordan and Millie, who will write next week’s quiz.

Our team set out to Fiji during a really pivotal and special moment. Aside from the Fijian festivities that seem to stretch a full week long, our first Wednesday happened to fall on the Hindu holiday Diwali, which is the celebration of lights and the New Year. At the Waimari primary school, where most of us are teaching, the school’s administration is run by a Hindu family that live right behind the school. Since we are teachers of the school, we are also family; the whole Think Pacific crew was invited to a proper Diwali celebration at the house. When we got to the school, we were welcomed with warm smiles and bright lights…. Seriously, every thing in the house was decorated just like Christmas. We lit fireworks, drank kava, ate traditional Hindu food, laughed, chatted, and talked about what we wanted to accomplish in the new year.

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On Thursday we learned basket weaving. We had quite an audience of children by the end, all of whom were much better at it than us. The leaves we used were coconut leaves. It was much more fiddly than expected and really quite tricky. Everyone really enjoyed making them, even if ours turned out a bit rubbish. In the end we only really made about half our baskets, as the leaders had to keep coming over to fix them for us. We all finished with a complete basket eventually though, except for Sam who got too frustrated with his and so has a half finished leaf.

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It unbelievable that we had made it a full week! Teaching and coaching 65 rambunctious Fijian kids can take it out of you. Luckily we were able to escape the chaos and head out to Wailotua Village to enter one of the world’s largest caves.

Inside the largest part the cave, the roof stretched up to 90 feet. Bats blanketed the roof and their screams echoed throughout the cave. Even further into our descent, our tour guide shared Fijian folklore about the cave that matched our high ambition. After the cave, we traveled to the Dakuivuna Waterfall, blasting reggae music to most of the top 40 songs that we all hear on the radio. The falls acted as a playground for the inner adventurer in all of us and central meeting location for some of the other international travelers in the area. We were able to chat with some of the other travelers, swim, push some of our leaders into the pools, and replenish ourselves with a well deserved burger. We all cheer!

by Sam Goodman, Ra November 2015 Volunteer

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Koro 6 Month Team – “A week with Aaron Easton”


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This week has been one of my best weeks on project, celebrating Frankie’s birthday on Wednesday with an impromptu casting session of my feature film where Tommy acted for the main role was a particular highlight, but school also went brilliantly.

Thursday afternoon, Madam asked me to do a music lesson after lunch, having once said I play guitar. We taught the kids to sing ‘Stand by me’ and I tried my best with a broken guitar. Next, myself and Tess took class 7 & 8 for science and taught them about the solar system. I seem to measure the success of lessons by how quiet the class are and they were silent! So they really listened! I took them outside for a demonstration of our solar system and then took them back inside so they could design their own planets. The lesson ended with an applause from the kids which was massively fulfilling.

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The final achievement came from the house cup. It was a quiz and each class gets a question including us volunteers. House green (my house) came to victory as I answered the last question in record breaking time! After a great day at school I came home to my mum asking me to come to church at our house tonight and gave me the privilege of carrying a porcelain statue of Mary into the house. It felt good to be part of the family in this way and the congregation really appreciated it. So much so, they invited me to do it again the next day. Which I did and had many photos with relatives, one of which called me a saint! I finished the week by fishing with Craig and my brother, very unsuccessfully. A great week, one to never forget!

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Volunteer Stories – ‘Clan Night’; Huge feast & traditional kava ceremony!


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On Tuesday evening the village hosted a Clan Night in the village hall. Clans are made up of lots of families and the whole clan sat together around a long cloth laid out on the floor down the middle of the hall. Each house brought contributions of traditional Fijian food including rice, casava, pumpkin noodles, fried egg plant, dalo, coconut milk and pork. Whilst the food was being prepared the Fijian children sang us songs, took lots of photographs on our cameras (that they love!) and best of all, taught us their hand clapping games and laughed at us continuously as we got them wrong.

We sat down to eat with kana vakalevu (the Fijian for eat lots) being called out, and then our Fijian parents and families sat to eat after us. Once the food had been cleared away and the table moved, there was the traditional grog ceremony. The children left and we all gathered around the bowl. After drinking plenty of grog and hop hopping till we were exhausted we all slept very well that night!

by Lauren

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Volunteer Stories – Taff’s Birthday Bonanza; ‘A birthday to remember which confirmed there really is no party like a TP party!’


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Spirits were high amongst volunteers and children alike in Nacamaki on Friday evening. We had just returned from a very successful inter-schools sports competition in which the 7&8 Nacamaki boys pulled off a memorable victory to bring home the gold, and everyone was buzzing!

It all started with some of the boys wearing some rather fetching Jamba dresses. The party guests were arriving when I was whisked away to my Grandma’s house to get dressed in my traditional Fijian birthday attire, which turned out to be a dress made out of special paper (masi). I was then secretly ushered back into the party shack and left sitting on my own in a masi dress, which was of much amusement to the other guests.

I was treated to a wonderful rendition of happy birthday by everyone, made a short speech and cut the wonderfully huge cake my mum had prepared. The mums had all been baking all day and there was no short supply of cake and pie and tea! All the cakes were truly delicious but one stood out above the rest. Earlier in the week, Tess had been back to visit her mum in Vatulele, who is a master baker, to make me a surprise cake. Tess had produced a scrumptious banana cake, under her mum’s watchful eye, which was a lovely treat.

The group came together for a dance to the Fijian classic ‘Cecilia’ and then I was to slow to sit down, and was forced to make my own rendition of the ‘chacha slide’. A great night was topped off by the surprise visit of the Vatulele mum’s and my dad came along too. Throughout the night the shack was jam packed which put hop hop to the side but this was okay as everyone was enjoying chatting and reminiscing. It truly was a birthday to remember which confirmed that there really is no party like a TP party.

by Taff

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

TP Inter-School Tournament – Koro Island – U14 Netball; ‘It’s so cool that I’ve now coached a team on the other side of the world!’


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Day 13 of the Think Pacific expedition and today was awesome! Both groups at Nabasovi District School and Kade Village School had spent the previous week training a netball team and 2 rugby teams from each school from the years 5-8. I really enjoyed the training we ran for them, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting back into Netball coaching having missed it since I left England.

All of the coaching we put on was leading to a massive inter-school tournament on the Friday, where 4 schools from around Koro Island came together to battle it out to become champions. Julia, Hannah, Lauren and I got our netball team really pumped up and we were all really excited.

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What was also great was that our Think Pacific team were heading to Vunivasa School with our two schools and we were going to join another Think Pacific team who were on a 6 month expedition with their 2 schools; Vunivasa and Nacamaki. The atmosphere was class – so many kids running around enjoying themselves.

First up was my Nabasovi Netball team playing Nacamaki. The girls played really well and I loved watching their game! They won their match quite convincingly which (obviously) we were all really chuffed about. Through to the final! We had lots of chill time so spent it watching the other teams playing and chatting to the 6 month team about their experiences.
So, the final…So excited for the girl’s match against Vunivasa!

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It was a 20 minute game with 4 long quarters,  with the last being the longest ever. I loved being back courtside cheering my team on. The game is quite different out here, contact seems to be the norm but the girls are awesome at netball and they loved every minute! It did get to the point however,  where I couldn’t watch as I so wanted the girls to win!

And guess what? They won! The best moment ever was when the girls realised they’d won and we ran on court to cheer with them in a massive huddle – a tad emotional! It reminded me of my team at home when I take them to tournaments, but it’s so cool that I’ve now coached a team on the other side of the world!

What an awesome day!

by Emily

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Ra April Team – Sports Outreach & Village Visit; ‘The night that ensued was full of delight and splendour!’


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Anticipation had been building throughout the week for the impending weekend trip out of Malake. With rumours rife about possible waterfall treks and hop-hop we were all full of excitement upon our departure on Friday afternoon.

We arrived at Nabau Primary School, set in a lush green jungle just next to the beautiful river, ready to lead the children on an afternoon of sports. We split off to teach football, cricket, hockey and rugby, all of which went down a treat with the nabau kids and fun was had by all.

The volunteers finished up with a team game of quick cricket in the scorching Fiji heat (we missed the island breeze at Malake!) before setting off to Savulotu Village, which is 20 mins away from the school, for our sevusevu.

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We were greeted with the warmest of welcomes from the Savulotu community, with trays full of fresh fruit and refreshing coconut to replenish us.

The boys and girls settled into their lovely homes, and after a quick change the lads ventured off in search of a local waterfall. After trekking through a slippy jungle pass, we found ourselves at a delightful waterfall. The early swim put the boys in a buoyant mood for the night ahead.

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The night that ensued was full of delight and splendour. After a magnificent feast we were treated to some dance routines from the children and the women, which had the whole village and the team roaring with laughter.

After, we cracked on with the grog! The team mingled with the village sharing stories and tales. The village was fascinated with tales from our home, as were we with theirs. As the night went on, the kava rounds increased and the mood lightened, and the hop-hop (dancing) became inevitable.

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The next morning we arose slightly later than originally planned, feeling the effects of last nights grog. We briefed, had lunch and embarked on our trek to find the waterfall in the centre of the jungle. We had guides accompany us on our trip who would treat us to a ride on the horses. Galloping freely through the jungle, jumping over fallen trees and giant puddles got the adrenaline of the group pumping, certainly a highlight of the weekend.

After walking up stream for a short while, the powerful waterfall emerged from the horizon like a white tower. The team dived into the glistening pool at the front of the waterfall immediately, cooling off from the days hiking and riding. Merriment was apparent when we had finally reached our goal and after drying off and taking some cracking pictures, we made our way back to the village.

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Our final goodbyes to the village were surprisingly sad for having been in their company for a short amount of time. The warmth and homeliness they provided would not be forgotten by the team and we set off on our return journey.

Home was in site but not before a much needed stop to pick up valuable provisions for the week ahead (or maybe just the journey home). Dairy Milks were bought by the dozen and devoured at the same speed as the truck was driving us back. Before we knew it we had made it back to our home, Malake.

by Connor & Flo