The moment we left the airport all those weeks ago we all knew we were in for an amazing experience, one which we would never forget. From arriving at Nairai and preparing to join the community of Tovulailai, until now as we prepare to leave our Fijian family and new friends, we have been non-stop.
Daily project life can be challenging, yet extremely rewarding. During Kindi the children have flourished, from learning A B C and 1 2 3, along with singing and dancing. The hokey cokey was a classic favourite among the children and us volunteers. Their excitement and eagerness in the early mornings were all we needed to get us raring to go. Watching the twins, Kili and Josh excel has to be one of the most rewarding moments of the trip. In the beginning they only left their mother’s side to eat, but by the end they found their voices and their feet, always kept us on our toes. Despite the tantrums and tears, we can definitely say everyone has all learnt a lot from the experience. It was not surprising that the final day in Kindi ended in floods of tears. While Ally and Ellie were drying off their tears (Alice not so much), Christina and Chloe were hard at work doing the final touches of the community hall.
After watching the gradual progress since the beginning, we can honestly say blood, sweat and tears have gone into it. With Chloe and Steve’s logo design, the hall is now finally ready. There was never a dull moment, whether there was a mud or paint fight or watching the boys cheesy dance moves to S Club 7, every minute has been highly entertaining.
Our walks to school were sometimes a death trap but always enjoyable, the children’s smiling faces greeting us daily made it worth it. A combination of both house cup and sport filled our afternoons, bringing out the competitive streak in all of us (especially Harry). Some of our favourite moments were Christina leading the Dolphins to a public speaking victory with the Owl and the Pussy Cat, along with Ally and her Barracudas clenching first place in house singing. Busted would have been proud!
Our evening activities are always varied, ranging from movies, quizzes and traditional bracelet and basket making. Inevitably, they all ended in a grog session! When arriving in the village, we all immersed ourselves into Fijian life and culture. This ranged from sampling the local food (Chloe had her fair share of cassava), to spending the day fishing and visiting the local plantations with our family; Chloe getting the biggest catch of the day, Ellie. A highlight of our time here in Fiji was spending every Tuesday night with our family, our most recent family night was spent on Sucuni Lailai, a small island just off Nairai. The evening involved lots of singing, we all welled at Christina’s rendition of Caledonia (even Ally!). Of course no family night would be complete without plenty of grog and a massive bonfire for Christina to gaze at. Yet again we found ourselves performing the ‘cow meke’ which had our family in fits of laughter, although we’re pretty sure they were laughing at us!
We couldn’t have asked for a better team and especially not a better house. We’ve bonded through the hard times, such as rats and giant spiders in our rooms; good job Ellie isn’t scared! And even through our nits (the only downside to Kindi!) which Ellie has painstakingly picked out of our hair each night. But of course the good times outweigh the bad and now we couldn’t be much closer. Everyone’s made friendships that will last for many years to come. One thing’s for sure, we’re looking forward to a house reunion in Dubai. Look out Coleman family!
The time we’ve spent in Fiji has been the both rewarding and inspirational, and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. We leave in a few days, yet it feels like we only arrived yesterday. We’ve learnt so much from everyone here and their kindness and warmth is something we’ll never forget. Their ability to share what little they have with others and the gratitude they’ve shown us throughout our time here has been virtuous. We leave here feeling accepted and as members of the Tovulailai community. We hope to return one day, and know we will be welcome with open arms.