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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!