Our final week began with the team saying their very emotional goodbyes to the kids and teachers at MDS. School is such an unforgettable and unique part of project and saying farewell is no easy task. For 8 weeks our guys have helped out in classrooms, from kindergarten right through to class 8, coached sport and continued the House Cup competition. Fijian children always bring so much energy and enthusiasm to projects; it’s what helps create a lasting impression with everyone in the team. Our last activity with MDS was performing the songs all the Houses had prepared for House Singing. It was a true underdog story for ‘Kasaqa’ House, who came through to win the overall competition. Harvey, Molly and Sarah were our Kasaqa volunteers and joined their kids in lifting the TP House Cup trophy!
All the team and children at MDS put in so much effort for the whole 8 weeks so we can’t thank you enough. The team presented school awards to various children throughout the school who had impressed our guys in some way or another. From ‘hardest worker’ to ‘most improved in sports,’ it helped give praise to specific children. The children sang a farewell song to the team, which included the names of all our volunteers and leaders. With the team wiping the tears away, the Head Master offered his enormous thanks and gratitude to everyone who had created such an incredible experience for the children at MDS. The kids continued to sing farewell songs and performed a ‘Meke’ for the team. It was a truly humbling farewell and reflected what an impact our guys can make in just 8 weeks. It’s been amazing to see just how attached everyone got to the school and for our guys MDS will always offer them the memories of a lifetime.
The build finished with everyone helping tidy up and making it look ready for the opening ceremony. Harvey put his artistic skills to the test by painting the team logo above the door. Inspired by Niubasgan folklore, he created an image which was very personal and symbolic for Niubasaga. This proved very popular amongst the whole village. Meanwhile, Tess and Sarah helped make the inside look extra special by painting tribal flowers on the back wall. We then handed it over to the women of the village who put up curtains, drapes and added any final touches. The opening ceremony of the hall was a very big occasion, seeing extended family members and friends coming to attend from all over Moturiki, Viti Levu (mainland) and even Australia! The magnitude of just what this project provided the community with was reflected when the village elders presented Harry, on behalf of the whole team, a ‘tabua’(whale’s tooth). This is the highest privilege in traditional Fijian society and something our guys will remember forever.
The ceremony offered our team the chance to see just how much every villager appreciated their hard work. It was a great occasion and a special end to all our hard work on the build during project. The kind words and presentation of the tabua is something we can all be very proud of. After the extremely humbling open ceremony, we joined the village with a celebratory bowl of grog in their brand new hall. The grog continued to flow until the early hours as everyone celebrated in style. Moturiki has never failed to put on unforgettable evenings of grog and hop hop and this occasion certainly didn’t disappoint as the whole village erupted into dancing and laughter all night.
We awoke on Saturday for the Niubasaga Fun Day, a chance to raise some money for the village as well as having a great day with the whole community. From cake stalls to a coconut shy, the team helped create a great buzz throughout the village. The children from MDS even came along for the day, reflecting how much they have loved our guys being here. With plenty of sunshine and even more laughter, we raised $101.55. This was all down to the enthusiasm and effort of the whole team so well done to everyone!
Sunday afternoon saw the team attend their farewell service at church. This was a chance to say a final goodbye to the whole village that has cared and loved them for over 2 months. The bonds we’ve made really do last a lifetime and we’re honoured and humbled to have a second home here in Niubasaga. It’s a truly unique and unforgettable experience and one both the team and the community can treasure forever. Wherever we go, a piece of us will always stay in Niubasaga.
p.s. From leaders Rob and Euan, a massive vinaka vaka levu to the whole team who have helped create such an incredible project. You’ll always be legends on these shores of Moturiki!