Archive for the ‘March 2013 (Yanuca)’ Category

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Moturiki – Farewell Yanuca

Volunteering Fiji (8)

The community of Yanuca is now just not complete without our volunteers. Everyone has become an indispensable part to the community. It’s amazing to think our guys have become this close to the whole community in just 3 weeks. With the final week approaching, it’s been without doubt another superb week on project!

Yanuca has been lit up by various traditional Fijian activities this week. We started with the team getting introduced to the vibrant displays of the Fijian Meke (traditional dance). With plenty of practice our guys should be ready to perform it at the opening ceremony of the toilet block next week. Tom has been allocated as chief ‘shouter’ during the Meke, which has kept the Fijians well entertained. With the whole village coming down to the hall to clap and cheer on our guys during the Meke practices, it’s certainly created a great atmosphere in the village during the evenings. In true Yanucan spirit, the grog and hop hop has also been in full flow this week as our guys try to keep up with the Fijians. The team also tried their hand at some traditional Fijian bracelet making. As other guys continue to perfect their bilos or start on other ones, the souvenir collections are coming along nicely! Whether it’s dancing, playing cards, drinking grog or generally enjoying the company of everyone around us, this week has brought a new energy to the village. ‘Family Night’ has also continued to be a volunteer favourite. Whether it’s been Flo, Kate and Maisie having a girly night in with their Fijian sisters and baby brothers or Tom and Toby getting teased by their mum, everyone is loving the opportunity to get well and truly stuck into family life.

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The final rota on project has seen the build spring up into its finished shape with the doors and windows attached. We’ve also made sure the locks have been added to save any embarrassment when eventually sitting on the thrown! So after a lot of hard graft it’s finally time for the paint job to begin! Karina, Sophie (Jackie Chang), Megan (Rambo), Lucy and Joe have dawned the painting overalls and have set to work changing the build from a standard toilet block to a work of art (and there ain’t many loos you can say that about!) On reaching school in the afternoon for sports, the rest of the team need never ask what colour we had been using that day as they just had to look at the painters themselves! There has been a massive buzz on the build this week and even the village elders have popped down to give their support and helping hand. Again guys we cannot fault the efforts put in on build and it is looking ace! Vinaka.

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With our time at Moturiki District School coming to end, our volunteers made sure it was a big final week in school. Jen kicked things off with an anti-bullying campaign for class 7 with the help of Rob, Toby, Rachel and Kate. This was a great success and is sure to leave a lasting impression with all the kids who took part. Our guys got the kids to come up with their own ideas and then make role-playing dramas and posters about the issues associated with bullying. It was a great way to incorporate lots of skills into one lesson so well done team! Kirsty continued the high standards with her interactive outdoor game to help understand coordinates and graphs better. Again, by getting the kids out of the classroom, Kirsty helped provide a new platform for improving knowledge and skills in school. Maisie took control of the ‘dream team’ in class 6, which included her Fijian sister Una. Maisie had a great time taking this small group of kids and helped offer some real benefits by going through exercises at a pace that suited each child individually. Toby provided one-on-one support for two boys in class 5 who were clearly struggling. Toby worked on using different teaching methods to see what would work best for them and showed real passion in trying to make a difference for these boys who needed that extra help. Flo also couldn’t resist but pop into class 2 for a day to see her little darlings again! House Cup has reached new levels this week with the start of singing and public speaking. As the volunteers clear the cobwebs from their throats, it’s set to be a tight finish for overall champions. Sports’ coaching has also continued to keep all the kids well entertained in the afternoons and helped broaden their sporting horizons!

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Kindi has been thriving this week with Tom, Rachel, Flo and Kate putting in a stella performance. Our guys started the week with a bang by creating an almighty ‘days of the week’ palm tree. This has helped the kids learn what day it is instead of saying the usual, ‘it’s SunnyDay!’ Our girls have continued the superb arts and crafts while Tom has taken Toby’s place as the Kindi climbing frame. Tom and ‘the boyssss’ have made kindi even more of a madhouse than usual! Meanwhile, Rachel and Kate have become natural kindi teachers and kept the children smiling all morning. Tom’s protégé Jone, has stolen the show this week and kept our guys laughing all through kindi. Our kindi team have also done a great job at getting the children excited and eager about sports and active games so it’s been a great effort by everyone. As we head into the final few days in Yanuca our team is desperate to make the most of every last moment. With a very busy schedule to finish our time in the village it’s sure to be another spectacular couple of days!

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Week 4

After an amazing few weeks in Yanuca, it’s time for our guys to say their emotional goodbyes to their new family and friends on Moturiki. The difficult farewell is a reflection of how close we’ve come to everyone in Yanuca and shows how much we all care for this wonderful community.
Our time in the village concluded with a great last couple of days. The farewell kicked off with a Fun Day at the weekend. This had the whole of Yanuca (as well as lots of kids from around Moturiki) joining our volunteers on the beach for various games and activities. A coconut shy, splat the rat, sponge a leader, and lots of cake kept everyone well entertained all afternoon. With the sun shining it was a wonderful day spent as a community. Some touch rugby and a splash about in the sea also helped make our little village become the place to be in Fiji! A long skipping rope also gave way to the glorious sight of some of the village elders showing off their skills. It’s not every day you see a 70 year old man busting some moves with a skipping rope! We finished the day with a tug of war between our guys and the Fijian kids. We could pretend we gave them a good match but it’s safe to say the Fijians pulled us to the ground every time! A Think Pacific Fun Day isn’t just about having a great time with the village, it’s also a way to help raise some money for the community and our guys worked very hard in ensuring the day was a success so a vinaka vaka levu to everyone!

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Our time at school finished with the finale to the Think Pacific House Cup – Public Speaking and Singing a great way to decide the title. After battling through Art, Photography, and Sport, it was neck and neck for top spot. With everything to play for it was Soqe, led by Sophie, Tom and Kirsty who prevailed! An outrageous performance of ‘the circle of life’ by Toby, Rachel, and Lucy and the kids of Kasaqa wasn’t enough to stop them getting the wooden spoon. Meanwhile, it was Kula (Flo, Jo and Megan) who just missed out on the top spot closely followed by Kikau (Maisie, Kate, Karina, and Jen.) Throughout the project our team have been creative, imaginative and joyful in getting the kids involved in extracurricular activities. The beam of happy faces across the school is a great sign that our guys have smashed it! With one last rugby and netball game against a neighbouring village and a tea party hosted by the teachers at school, we say our goodbyes to Moturiki District School. If our guys thought it wouldn’t be an emotional goodbye they needed to think again as all the children sang a farewell song about how much they would miss all our volunteers.

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A big part of this expedition was to build and install a toilet block for the village. As the build got its final coat of paint and any finishing touches, we added a team logo to make it truly unique. It is now there, taking pride of place in the centre of the village. Our last day in Yanuca saw the whole village come down for an opening ceremony. It was clear how much the village appreciated and treasured the team’s efforts and their kind words reflected this. The Priest came down and spoke of great appreciation and gratitude to everyone who helped make a dream become a reality for the village.

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Before we ventured to the hall for a final grog and hop hop session, we performed the much anticipated Mekes. The girls got the ball rolling, much to the delight of the village and even managed to nail all the moves as they got showered with talc and ribbons. The boys were up next and dressed in true Fijian warrior attire, the whole village were in stitches as they performed the meke putting a small stamp of their own in! And on that note, it was time to get changed and enjoy a final meal with our families before embarking on an all-nighter. We Danced, grogged and laughed our way to sunrise before saying our emotional goodbye to Yanuca.

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It’s been a truly humbling experience for all our volunteers and one that we shall never forget. As we leave this beautiful community, we leave behind friends and family who have cared for us, looked after us and loved us like sons, daughters, brothers and sisters! There are no words that can do it justice so as a team we set sail in the knowledge that Yanuca will always be in our hearts and forever a second home. It has been an incredible 4 weeks, full of memories that will last a lifetime so we say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped create an experience that our volunteers can treasure for years to come. And to everyone in the team, you have all been outstanding from day one and have helped make such a difference for the village. So Vinaka vaka levu to everyone who has been part of this expedition!
Rob, Euan and the whole team!

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Moturiki – Update from our March volunteer expedition!

Gap Year Fiji (4)

Our Yanuca team are now fully immersed into Fijian life and making the most of their time in this beautiful community. With the sun shining, our guys have shown real passion in delivering project aims and have continued the success from the previous week. The pulsating atmosphere in the village has left no-one free of Goosebumps as the team are beginning to see how much the Fijians appreciate and treasure us as part of this village. It’s crazy to think we have reached the half way stage in this expedition so everyone is keen to go the extra mile in making this an unforgettable experience. The week began with an impromptu trek up to visit the old village of Yanuca. This was the location of the village during tribal warfare in Fiji hundreds of years ago! The children were keen to help guide our guys up and give a little history lesson at the same time.

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Easter Monday saw a full team on the build getting their hands dirty and mixing the cement for the foundations and floor. We even attempted the unthinkable and produced a 5-peak cement volcano (which may go down in Fijian folklore in years to come). Our new build team of Toby, Tom, Flo, Kirsty and Jen maintained this impressive start and were more than happy to begin work on the frame and walling. Iron men Tom and Toby set some high standards for lifting and carrying sand, gravel and mixing, while Flo and Kirsty took the reigns as the new sawing double act! Jen proved to be a ‘hit’ with the nail and hammer and kept the boys on their toes. Toby, Jen and Flo, also showed no fear of heights up on the rafters, nailing down the roofing. This build team even created a Fijian style ‘come dine with me’ during their lunch breaks (thanks to their Fijian mums!) and sampled some of the finest Fijian gastronomy. From barber-shop quartet singing to putting in the hard graft, our build team have had a superb week so a massive thanks to these guys!

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Kindi saw Jo, Rachel, Maisie, and ‘kindi veteran’ Lucy step up to the plate this week. There was a colorful theme all week, whether it was learning and recognizing colors or creating an almighty rainbow, kindi was buzzing. Once again, arts and crafts has been a volunteer favorite and once again Lucy has managed to get more paint on herself than the paintings. Jo, Maisie and Rachel fitted in perfectly and have been smashing at getting the kids smiling and laughing (with a bit of learning thrown in as well). The girls even got some Kindi Olympics organized and even if the kids had their very ‘unique’ interpretations of some events, everyone had a great time. It’s no easy task getting thrown into the kindi battlefield but our girls made it look easy so a massive well done!

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Our guys had another resounding week at Moturiki District School. Kate adopted the enthusiasm from Flo in class 2 and helped the little ones in any way she could. Kate created her very own story called ‘The Little Green Duck,’ which helped get the kids to understand English better as well as being a creative way to keep them entertained. So well done, a ‘Quacking’ idea! Meanwhile, Megan continued her shift in school, only this time in class 5. Confident and creative, Megan has been amazing in school and definitely left her mark on the kids. Megan also led a first aid lesson with Rachel, which is sure to be of great use for these children. Karina took charge of class 7 and wasted no time in getting creative with her class and introducing new ideas. A lesson on ‘where would you go in the world for a day’ was just one example of how she helped offer the kids some variety and imagination in their learning. Class 6 had the pleasure of being accompanied by Sophie. It’s a crime if Sophie doesn’t become a Fijian school teacher when she’s older as she has looked right at home with her ‘dream-team’ class. Whether it’s been singing her own hymn, doing outdoor drama or simply getting back to basics with some good old comprehension, Sophie had been in her element. Another week finishes at MDS and our guys continue to impress, so vinaka vaka levu to all the guys.

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Sports coaching and the House Cup competition have also reached new heights this week. Tom and Toby led the younger kids in a rugby drill coined the ‘Hunger Games,’ which certainly got the kids animated. Meanwhile, a football session for class 1 and 2 resulted in what can only be described as complete pandemonium across the sports field. Needless to say, the children of MDS love having our volunteers to play sports with. The extracurricular activities don’t stop with sports as we finished House Art and Photography this week. The theme was ‘family’ and the team helped the kids make some wonderful family trees.

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The evenings have been action packed this week. Tuesday saw the return of Family Night, a glorious evening of family shenanigans throughout the village. From the ‘bachelor pad’ to the ‘jam shack,’ each house has its own vibe and keeps the volunteers well entertained. Our first group of spear fisher’s went out this week. Flo, Karina, Toby and Rachel joined the Fijians in some traditional night spearfishing, an evening I’m sure they’ll never forget! The team also got to make their very own ‘bilos’ (grog bowls), something that the grog-aholics, Tom and Toby, will get plenty of use out of!

The week finished in style with ‘Fun Friday’ living up to its name and hosting a netball and rugby game against a neighboring village. All the girls got stuck into the netball and offered some slick passing and movement, however this was only a consolation for our girls as the Fijians were too strong. Led by the inspirational coach/player, Megan, the girls had a great game and can’t wait for another match. The rugby was another great spectacle. Tom provided the crowd with some big hits, while the ‘man-mountain’ Toby was an unmovable force throughout the game. This proceeded a feast and hop hop in Naicabecabe.

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Saturday saw the team venture across to Rukuruku for a mammoth trek through the Fijian jungle. This trek is not for the faint hearted and the whole team deserve a massive pat on their backs for this achievement! After a hard long trek there is only one way to finish and that’s in a secluded waterfall. From dastardly ants and rope climbs to breathtaking views, this trek had it all! It’s safe to say it’s been another unbelievable week in Fiji for our guys. As we head into the final stretch the guys are focused on making sure they savor every moment.

P.S. A massive hello to all our family and friends back home from everyone in the team!

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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Moturiki-A big first week for our March team.

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After an idyllic few days on a castaway island, the team were ready to set sail for their new home of Yanuca! Arriving in the rain, our clothes and bodies may have been dampened, but our spirits definitely were not. Time to bring on island life! The team began their stay in Yanuca with a sevusevu, formally welcoming our guys into the community. This proceeded into some grog and hop hop, the first of many for the team. Sunday saw a special church service presented by the children of the village to celebrate Palm Sunday. This was followed by a day spent getting to know our new mums, dads, brothers, sisters and cousins, and settle into the pace of village life.

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The guys on the build hit the ground running with a tremendous effort this week. Come rain or shine, our Think Pacific builders have been outstanding at ‘digging’ deep and getting the work done. This first week has seen lots of lifting, carrying, sawing, hammering, cementing and generally getting stuck into all aspects of a TP build site. With the help of our Fijian building manager Semi, the team have raced through this first week and set a high standard for our next set of volunteers to continue this impressive start. In just of couple of weeks, this will soon be Yanuca’s much anticipated toilet block. So big thanks to Maisie, Jo, Kate, Rachel and Tom who have dug the foundations and septic tank for this toilet block. The chief “hammerer” at this point is Kate who may have found a skill she didn’t know she had. “Little T” Tom is too busy smacking  wood to make it onto the top spot, while Rachel has enough raw power to crack a block beneath the wood but again the nail is proving slightly elusive! Then we have the sawing duo of Maisie and Jo, zipping through the wood with ease. The heavy graft our guys have put in this week would have even made Army blush!

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Kindi got off to a flying start this week with Karina, Sophie, Lucy and “Big T” Toby making an instant impact with the kids. The guys got creative, making some impressive artwork to decorate the kindi classroom. Karina, Sophie and Lucy have been busy making a Space collage to help the kids learn their numbers. Our volunteers have brought so much energy and enthusiasm to kindi this week and seemed to enjoy ‘arts and craft’ as much as the children. Meanwhile, Big T has made use of his size and became the climbing frame for the week, much to the delight of everyone! From introducing new songs to helping the children understand numbers and words better, it has been an exceptional start to kindi.

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Last but not least, we reach our guys in school. Flo was right at home in class 2, reflecting the same gusto as the kids. With the help of her stickers, she became an indispensable part of the class and whether it was telling her classic story about the Easter Bunny (with actions) or making fortune tellers with the kids she has been fantastic! Jen continued the good work in school by helping out in class 5. Jen focused on the one-on-one sessions with kids who were struggling in certain subjects. This is a great way to really get stuck into the teaching element of project and give that extra attention to the children who need it most. Jen helped demonstrate how our volunteers can make such a big difference in a short amount of time and also showed us why she wants to go into teaching! Kirsty also threw herself into the deep end at school, helping out in class 4 and 7. Controlling two classes is no easy task but our Kirsty made it look easy, another great effort by a TP future teacher. Megan was in class 6 and 8 with the headmaster of the school. From maths to spelling tests and getting familiar with her grammar, Megan put in a big shift and impressed Master Mika so much that at points she also controlled the two classes on her own.  All the guys in school this week didn’t hold back and deserve a pat on their backs. So well done team, keep it up!

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In the afternoons, the team got laced and booted for sports coaching at Moturiki District School. The tone was set when Flo, Karina and Lucy pulled some shapes with the little ones in some outrageous Dance sessions. Kate and Rachel created a massive buzz at the other end of the sports field with some games of ‘fijian’ Rounders (which resulted in everyone caked in mud head to toe). The boys took rugby and helped provide some structure to the flamboyant style of the Fijians, bringing in old-school “huddles” and chants before training games. Great work boys! Jen and Kirsty introduced the new MDS favorite of dodge ball, which created some great moments throughout the week and an occasional blindsided shot from a few of the kids. Maisie, Sophie, and Megan took netball and soon found out that it’s taken as serious as rugby in Fiji. But the girls did well controlling the “VERY” enthusiastic youngsters again showing the Fijian version of this sport has a little more contact than at home!  Sport has had an amazing buzz this week with the kids all beaming with smiles so the task now is to keep up the good work.

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The community of Yanuca and our guys have spent lots of time getting stuck into Fijian life and culture this first week. Walk through the village and you’ll see everything from guys messing around with their brothers and sisters, to volunteers climbing coconut trees (Jenny). We also got our first taste at weaving fans and baskets with family members and the village elders. The week has even seen the very intellectual quiz produced by some of the team with questions such as “which one of us chipped a tooth on a bicep curl machine?…”  (the answer obviously being Big T!) Then to finish the week off, we welcomed extended family members into the village for Easter and had a huge party. It’s been a superb start to project so bring on next week!

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Thursday, March 21st, 2013

March 2013 Castaway briefing

Here are the photos from the past few days on Leleuvia Island as our volunteers get to know one another and relax in paradise.  They’ve had some gorgeous weather. The pictures are certainly making us very jealous in the Leeds office!

This week, the team have also been briefed by the Fijian Ministry as they prepare for life in the tiny, traditional and poor community of Yanuca, where they will be spending the next four weeks.

After the fun and sunshine of their Fijian acclimatisation, it’s now time for the real experience to begin as the team throw themselves into some very challenging volunteering projects and we look to inspire the Fijian children through youth and sports aims and achieve the construction of vital sanitation facilities for Yanuca village.