Archive for the ‘Jan 2013 (Natauloa)’ Category

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Nairai Island – Farewell to Natauloa

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From landing in Nadi airport almost 3 months ago and spending 4 days on an idyllic castaway island, on one hand feels like yesterday and on the other seems a world away after the 8 weeks immersing to life  in Nataloa village. As a team we landed on the beaches of Nairai on a high and as a team we have left a lasting impression on so many of the elders, parents and children that it will never be forgotten.

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With the building work completed all that was left to do was a few coats of paint and Natauloa District School had itself a brand new Kindergarten Classroom. This truly is a credit to every member of the team, most of whom had never even held a hammer before, for their efforts and ability to learn new skills. Any qualified construction worker would be proud to stand back and claim ownership of such a building.

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In school it was the finale of the long awaited ‘House Cup’ With nothing between them it was all to play for as each house battled it out in sports, then public speaking and finished off with the ever popular house singing. In the end it was Kubuna who took the spoils with Burebasaga second and Tovata coming in third. With this competition growing ever more popular it is great to see the progress of the kids and their sheer enjoyment at taking part makes it all worthwhile.

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To add to the madness of the final week we also had Gordon’s birthday to celebrate, with a massive feast and grog session. And the village fun day which saw most of the village coming out to take part in the various stalls the teams had put up. The team also got a chance to preform the Fijian Meke they had been practicing for the last couple of weeks. Much to the delight of the villagers. What a great way to finish off what has truly been a remarkable project, one which our team and the village of Natauloa will always remember and cherish.

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Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Nairai: Young Enterprise makes a huge impression in Natauloa

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It’s been another big couple of weeks on Nairai for the team. With only one full week left in the village the feeling that it is all coming to an end is setting in. It’s a difficult atmosphere to describe as there is a feeling of accomplishment at what has been achieved in our time here, then there is also that feeling of sadness that we will soon be leaving what everyone has come to refer to as home over the past 2 months.

Gap Year Fiji (9)

The final touches have been put to the build with walling, flooring, doors and windows all completed. It’s now on to painting and with ‘Busted’ as the chosen anthem it seems to have lifted spirits even higher than normal. If only we had known this at the start the leaders would have been only too happy to sing songs like ‘What I go to school for’ to keep the team motivated. With the end in sight we are right on schedule to finish on the completion date.

Gap Year Fiji (8)

Although the build can steal a lot of the limelight due to its size and the sheer physical effort put in, we believe in that our placements in both the school and kindergarden have a more significant impact, especially on the younger members of the villages we visit. And this project has been no different with the change in the kids ability clear to see over the past number of weeks. Something that has a massive impact on this is the House Cup. Over the past week our teachers have been helping prepare the kids for their debating and public speaking finals.

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They have also been working very hard on the young enterprise element and this has produced some fantastic results. A profit of 29 dollars was made by Burebasaga selling lemon juice, in second place was Tovata who made toffee and earned 59 dollars and in first place with an outstanding 108 dollars was Combuna selling personalised bilos to the team members. With only a few points dividing each house it promises to be an epic finale.

Gap Year Fiji (7)

The team also took a break from house cup action to promote a health week with all the kids in Nataloa School. This was done by dividing into 4 teams to each concentrate on a particular topic. These where, Typhoid, Teeth, Diet and Drugs and Alcohol. There were some great presentations on show and even the Fijian teachers stopped what they were doing to listen in.

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Evening activities have been in full swing with an all important birthday one of the highlights. Nick took pride of place as the village laid on a feast and a huge grog session followed which lasted well into the next morning. With quizzes, family nights and kids evenings also during the week it was no surprise that the weekend was a welcome rest time for everyone and a chance to recharge the batteries before we start into our final week.

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Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Nairai ten week team – expedition video footage

Here are some video clips of our ten week volunteers on Nairai Island;

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Nairai 10 week team; Latest experiences and achievements in Fiji

Volunteer Fiji (3)

Week five living in Nataloa village and the school and community is a hive of activity as the team continue to throw themselves into the project aims and island lifestyle.

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For this week’s extra curriculum project we’ve introduced ‘Young Enterprise’ classes to Nairai! it’s a mile stone for the kids of Nairai district school, allowing them the chance to broaden their views on their future and the possibility of careers. Whilst also facilitating the Ministry’s aims to open children to the concept of youth enterprise and income generation.

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Separating the kids into teams for finance, marketing and advertising as well as picking a manager to oversee everything, in was time for an ‘Apprentice’ style challenge! From making Fijian sweets or lime juice to creating ‘bilo’ cups to sell as souvenirs, our volunteers have overseen some creative ideas from the children.

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In this week’s sports coaching we have Poppy, Anna, Sarah and Caroline taking on the netball challenge; in volleyball we have Ben, Nick, Cheryl and Corrinne passing on their skills. For football coaching, Harry, James and Gordon, and a new sport for this week is circuit training guided by Dave, Ryan, Nick, Helena and Rob. Week by week by week the progression and the build up of knowledge of basic skills from the school kids is so rewarding to see.

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Working in school this week, Rob and Anna have been throwing themselves into new lessons, whilst in kindi, Cheryl, Corrinne, Helena and Henry have been entertaining and educating the little ones. The alphabet is the big topic of the week for our kindi kids.

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On the building project, the flooring has been coming on nicely through the hard work of Dave, Georgia, Nick and Sarah and the walls are taking great shape from the efforts of Ciaran, Gordon, James, Caroline, Poppy, Ryan, Ben and Harry. The build is flying by, with almost all of the walls completed by the end of the week.

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Evenings have been filled with Fijian family time. The team ventured out spear fishing with the village boys, which is always an adventure and an admiring site seeing the Fijians catch their dinner with such speed and agility. We followed a successful catch with a barbeque on a beautiful beach just ten minutes away from the village.

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On Monday night we held a quiz in the community hall, with Poppy, Cheryl, Sarah, James and Ryan’s team coming out the strongest.  Tuesday night was time to relax, we all gathered to watch a film with the community. Wednesday it was time for a day trip to Levuka, the Old Capital of Fiji, on Ovalau Island.  Splitting into teams, we sailed the 3 hour open water journey in motor boats through the Koro Sea.  This was a welcome chance to enjoy the shops and western food and explore the quaint ‘wild west’ port, which wouldn’t be out of place in a pirate movie. On Thursday night we had family night again, with mountains of food and the grog flowing afterwards until late.

Volunteer Fiji (8)

A school fundraising event was held by the team and was a huge success; face painting, bracelet making, water balloons, and painted nails, alongside stalls selling lollies and sweets for the kids. At the end of the day the money was counted up and an additional $100 had been raised for the school.

Volunteer Fiji (4)

To finish a busy week, an island netball tournament featuring Tp vs Fiji was held. Our TP volunteers came home victorious and the whole event was a hugely fun experience for all. Sunday had come around quickly again, with church and a big lunch and time for the team to plan their project ideas ready for another big week of volunteering.

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Nairai 10-week team – Time is flying as the team hit their stride in Fiji

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Unbelievably, we are now in the last week of our fortnightly rota (and halfway through the whole project – time is flying!). The team took part in the Sunday Church service with a resounding rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ started off with solo’s by Sarah and James and the rest of the team joining in with our soulful voices. after the first few lines with cries of ‘Vinaka’ (‘Thank you’) from the church congregation.  It was a great feeling for the team and gratefully received by the church members.

In school, Kindi and the build. Harry, Ciaran and Nick have been teaching in classes 1,2,3 and 4,5,6 and 7 and 8 respectively. The leaders and Master Poe have noticed a significant improvement in Harry’s pupils oral and written skills, so great credit to Harry there! Ciaran in 4,5,6 has been helping the kids in Year 5 mostly and they are coming along in leaps and bounds with some 1 on 1 tuition! Nick with Year 7 has been doing some excellent work in Maths, English and Social Science and even had a midweek lesson (with the assistance of Dave) on World War II. It gives the children a good understanding of the importance of the Winston Churchill speech they are learning for their House speaking.

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James, Cheryl and Gordon have been in Kindi and followed on with the Rainbow theme of last week with an Animal theme this one, with a hilarious variety of farmyard impressions blasting from the windows of Kindi (mostly from the volunteers) along with good Old MacDonald and some great farmyard games that get highly competitive – especially when there are stickers up for grabs!

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As for the build……we now have a roof! This has come in quite handy during the occasional showers!
Everyone on the build – Dave, Poppy, Sarah, Caroline, Helena, Anna, Rob, Ben, Ryan, Corrinne have been working very hard up on the roof and it’s great to see some of the more ‘apprehensive’ of the team confidently working up there now! It really is remarkable the progress made on the build over the last week or so – everyday it looks different!

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House cup this week has been House singing, with the 3 houses choosing a song to teach the children which they will then perform in a few weeks, the songs are Queen – We will rock you, Smash Mouth – All Star and Lion King – I just can’t wait to be King. They aren’t easy songs to learn but the kids pick them up so fast and after only a few days we can hear the kids reciting them loudly around village!

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It’s been a busy week of evening entertainment has been quiz night on Tuesday won by ‘3 Pinkies and a Brain’ consisting of Helena, Dave, Gordon and Nick. The Team leaders are still yet to win, even with the huge contribution of answers from Lulu Bear. We all had a great feast on Wednesday Family night, followed by a few bowls of grog, then a quiet one before Ciaran’s birthday of Friday! There was a huge communal meal in the hall where we presented his signed Fijian flag and Sulu and had a good sing song with the villagers over several obligatory bowls of grog!

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On the Saturday morning to get rid of our heavy heads we headed to Vutuna village so the team have now seen all the villages of Natauloa, they presented a sevu sevu to the village and then trekked to a stunning waterfall and had a refreshing paddle for the afternoon, though the weather was torrential rain the team all got stuck into the trek and enjoyed the views from the waterfall before heading back to vutuna village for lunch, followed by a relaxing Saturday afternoon.

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So, all in all a really enjoyable week for the team. The weeks just seem to roll by and nobody can believe we are at the halfway mark! Still 4 more weeks of hard work and fun to be had though! We should be putting up the walls and starting the flooring on the build next week and have got a trip to Levuka (the old capital city) sometime in the week to stock up on some essentials and a chance for the team to see the old saloon town of Levuka. Everyone sends their love to family and friends back in the UK!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Nairai ten week team – An action packed week and the meeting the think pacific teams!

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Our kindergarten school is rising from the ground and with all the walls in place, the team can now see just how big the building will be.  It’s hard work in the hot sunshine, but with ever enthusiastic team work, we’re making huge progress!

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Meanwhile, in our makeshift kindergarten, the kids and volunteers have been hooked on the game ‘musical bumps’. Ciaran brought his speakers in to liven up the place with music and our numbered cards and games have really helped make learning more interactive.

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Friday afternoon saw the team all put their marigolds on and head into school to give the classrooms a massive clean and a sparkling renovation; sorting out the book shelves, wiping the walls and windows and fixing chairs and tables so the school looked in great shape, much to the delight of the school teachers.

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After their fine efforts for the school the team headed to the beach and hopped into the motor boats to visit their neighbouring village of Tovulailai. They presented a sevu sevu to the Ratu (chief) and lit up the village with an evening of dinner and grog.

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‘Sports Saturday’ saw the team head to Lawaki School, where they played a community rugby game with the villagers of Tovulailai and Natauloa.  All the boys got stuck into the rugby, including some who had never played before, a brave task considering how seriously the Fijian boys take their rugby!  With the girls cheering from the sidelines, they put on a great match!

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Sunday afternoon was spent in true Fijian style; eating and relaxing. And it brought time to plan for the week ahead and the different projects.  Nick, Ciaren and Harry took on the challenge of teaching the primary school kids, James and Gordon put themselves down for the mayhem of kindergarten, while Henry, Dave, Georgia, Cheryl, Corinne, Poppy, Helena, Caroline, Robb, Ryan, Anna, Sarah and Ben all opted to be Think Pacific builders and push forward with our magnificent creation.

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Rainbows were theme of the week in Kindi. Each day the kids chose different colours to focus their drawing, painting and games.

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In school this week, the team started the ‘Public Speaking Programme’ an element of our school house cup, aimed at improving the children’s confidence and public speaking skills. Harry is teaching the owl and the pussycat, a nice rhyming poem and easy for the youngest ones to learn and remember.  Ciaran has powerful Nelson Mandela speech, which will test the middle aged kids. And Nick has an inspiring speech by Winston Churchill to teach to the oldest year.

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Sports this week saw four new activities being introducing and coached, Helena, Caroline, Georgia, James, Henry and Anna decided to coach volleyball, Gordon, Ciaran and Cheryl took the kids for ultimate frisbie, Robb and Harry launched into Cricket Coaching. Sarah, Ryan, Nick and  led swimming lessons in the Pacific ocean and were surprised by how many kids didn’t know how to swim, despite being surrounding by water.

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The build flew by this week. All four frames for the walls have been completed and braced as well as the doors and window frames completed. The beam for the roof has been attached and all the rafters have been cut to size and completed, so the entire shape and size of the hall is now complete. The team have been on great form on the build, with the sun shining down with no cloud cover for the entire week, it’s been a very hot one!  There were even a couple dance routines, including the infamous Gangnam style routine.

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With stomach bugs going around this week, it’s a testament to the team how enthusiastically they’ve pushed on the with the projects and kept their spirits up.  Home comforts, hot showers and running water, will all be cherished even more when they return home. Sadly, Emma, having had a particularly tough time with sickness, decided to return back to the UK this week. We know Emma was very upset to cut short the expedition and leave the Fijian community. We’d all like to wish Emma all the best from the whole team and the community of Nairai hope to see you return back one day to your little Fijian village.

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With the volunteers feeling back on form by the end of the week, it was time to enjoy some village evenings of fun.  On valentines day we were lucky enough to celebrate two birthdays in the team, our leader lulu and our building manager Jimbo. Cakes and parties were enjoyed by all.  Cultural evenings, coconut husking and fishing trips were on the agenda and Wednesday night saw the team separate into groups and head to different houses across the village for ‘a family night’ filled with food and grog parties,  think Fijian ‘come dine with me’ – a chance for the team to get to know other Fijian families in their village and share stories and food.

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A very special weekend arrived. We met up with the think pacific team from Batiki Island, who boated across to Nairai and also with the five week team, who are based on the opposite side of our jungle peaks. It’s always fabulous when our different teams get to meet and have the change to share their experiences and it was the first time in think pacific history where 3 teams have come together at once!

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The teams all got to know each other with a Think Pacific Olympics in the morning, filled with games and group activities. The boys from different teams came together to make a think pacific rugby 7’s team and participated in a tournament with the villages of Nairai in order to win the island Cup.

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The whole day was a great experience and a triumph for Nairai Island, who hosted with pride. The teams split in half and some went down to waitoga village for dinner and the rest went to vutuna and afterwards, everyone came together for one huge grog party.

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After a long day we headed back to their village for a deserved sleep and time to prepare for more experiences ahead next week.