Archive for the ‘July 2013 (Lawaki - Nairai Island)’ Category

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Nairai – Julia donates a netball kit to the girls of Lawaki

Netball Fiji (1)

Bula! Something that I always looked forward to in each day on project was the trip to the school to lead the children’s sports sessions. For three weeks in Lawaki I taught netball with a few of the other volunteers, and I loved every minute of it. I can barely put it into words how amazing the children are. From shooting practice to passing drills to game play, I have never been around children so excited to run around, get involved, and with a willingness to learn all that they could. They had the perfect combination of enthusiasm and competitiveness. With every little bit of coaching, their natural talent shone through, and it was incredible to watch their progress and see their enjoyment of the game increase as the days went by. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to coach, have fun and play with every single one of them.

Netball Fiji (2)

As my mum is a netball coach, I was lucky enough to be able to bring along two sets of bibs that I was able to give to the school. I will never forget the farewell speech given by Miss Lo on our last day. She addressed my mum, and tried to express the gratitude she felt for this donation, and how much it meant to the school and the children, who could not afford any of their own. Therefore I want to say a huge thank you to the parents and girls of St Nicholas Primary School in Harpenden, who donated these bibs. They mean so much to the children of Daveta School. They will be used and loved every day, and I can safely say that they couldn’t have gone to a better home. Vinaka vaka levu and moce!


Monday, August 12th, 2013

Nairai – Fundraising money buys new shirts for the Daveta school kids.


The funds raised from the ‘community fun days’ organised by the Tovolailai (April 2013) & Lawaki (July 2013) volunteer teams have been pooled together to purchase 200 metres of Bula material. The material is now with the parents who are proudly making a shirt for each student. The children and teachers are delighted that the students will soon have some impressive new school uniforms.

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Nairai – An emotional farewell to Lawaki.

Volunteering Fiji (55)

Our three and a half weeks in the village had built up to this moment. Anticipation and excitement filled the Nairai air and it all boiled down to two words; Hop Hop. The village spent the day splitting themselves into several different parties taking responsibility for decorating and preparing the feast which involved a significant decline in the Lawaki chicken and pig population. And of course not forgetting the standard daily task of pounding grog. At 10pm, the community hall slowly began to fill up with eager Hop Hop revellers having limbered up and stretched beforehand. Music was provided by the talented Lawaki band which played traditional, upbeat Fijian songs throughout the night. The volunteers did not know what to expect but they definitely will never forget what went on between 10pm and 6am.

Volunteering Fiji (44)

It would be fair to say that the Hop Hop has sealed itself as one of the most prominent memories during our time in the village. With the endless energy of the Fijian boys and their sometimes questionable dance moves, we were kept on our toes in our attempts to keep up and represent. Breaks between dances began quickly deteriorating and the Hop Hop marathon was soon in full swing. After many straight dances in a row, along with the overwhelming heat – there was not a dry brow or jumba dress in sight. At around 2am, some were already Hop Hop’d out and retired to bed leaving several unruly volunteers dancing infront of the sun which at 6am slowly began emerging out from the mountains which overlooked the village. The night had gone far too quickly and even at breakfast, people continued to dance with the much loved Nairai pie and lemon tea in hand. Perfect.

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At 7am, the dreaded time came. The beach soon became a hub of backpacks and suitcases as the village flooded to the shore for the final farewell. As the young men of the village tactically put on their sunglasses – there was not a dry eye in sight;  Lawaki’s sea level definitely multiplied by an outrageous amount. After many hugs and ‘goodbyes’ we slowly waded to the awaiting boat. As we sat looking back at the place where we had spent a life-changing three weeks, we all experienced a sick feeling in our stomach as we knew we were about to leave a part of us behind. Family that although this time next week would be at the other side of the world, they’d be family forever.

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To the village of Lawaki, we cannot express our love for you enough. You truly have left an everlasting imprint on us, creating a connection between two very different walks of life. Vinaka vaka levu, Lawaki. Sota tale.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Nairai – The opening of the Lawaki Nursing Station

Volunteering Fiji (31)

After three and a half weeks of hard graft it was finally time to open the clinic. You’d never have guessed that only an hour before we were scheduled to open the team were running riot trying to finish off… but that’s Fiji time for you.  After the final paintbrush was put down some of the Lawaki ladies transformed the room with traditional Fijian mats and a stunning tapa – woven from bark and intricately decorated. Rosa was dressed up to impress in her traditional Fijian attire ready to present the village Ratu with the scissors that would cut the ribbon. All dressed up in our formal wears we headed to the build where the village were gathered and Ratu gave a sermon.

Volunteering Fiji (3)

The sense of pride within the team was overwhelming and hearing Ratu’s sermon describing our presence in the village and the work we had done as a gift was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. We were graced with two final hymns from the village which were equally as beautiful in the open air as they were in the church. Jenny then gave a beautiful speech that really summed up our time in Lawaki, we discovered the meaning of riches, family and possessions and we only hope that our new friends realise how much wealth we have gained from them. Inside the clinic, Jenny sat as chief guest in front of the tapa with Nigel and Tom either side ready to accept the first grog bowl after a traditional grog ceremony.

Volunteering Fiji (8)

After copious tea and cakes it was time. Adrenaline was pumping. The girls were adorned with traditional Fijian meke outfits wrapped around our waists and wrists. After scrupulous training we had all mastered our routine and were counting down the seconds to perform. The reality was somewhat different… after two sketchy run throughs in front of the village- no doubt doubling as the evening’s entertainment- we were nervous to say the least. Lined up in front of the clinic Poppy called ‘lange meke’ and the band started. Sassy hand, sassy hand, hoola girl, twinkle. We delivered our routine with both military precision and hips that can only be likened to Shakira or Beyoncé. Personally, I think we smashed it and the Ratu’s wife kindly went through the team and dropped sweets down our tops- unconventional it may be but greatly received by the kopiko fiends we were. An encore was due and we happily got up and performed again!

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The boys turn came next, with only Shannon, Tom and Nige they got a helping hand from three of the Fijian men. We sat patiently waiting for them to emerge with their meke outfits on and we weren’t disappointed! With hoots and howls from the crowd they came out with leaf skirts, wrists, painted faces and suspiciously newly emergent six packs- I think we can put that down to the body paint. ‘Lange meke’ was called once more and the clapping started. Fast paced and pumped they flew through their routine twice to heaps of applause! Nige and Tom, never missing an opportunity to work the crowd, started an impromptu freestyle dance-off. I don’t think I’ve ever seen moves like that before and I can say I doubt I will again. It was special.

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The afternoon flew past and it’s safe to say it was up there with the most rewarding and humbling days on project. We spent the day beaming with pride seeing the building we created transformed into something that will benefit the village and stand proudly for years to come.


Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Nairai – A huge final day at Daveta School

Gap Year Teaching (26)

Before we even knew it, the last day, the last ever time we’d go to the school had arrived. The walk there through the jungle, over the slippery rocks and down the sandy beach was savored by the whole team. The Last day was probably also the busiest day we’ve had at school, with it being the finals of House cup. As soon as we arrived we went into our House’s for last minute rehearsals before the house singing final. All the children were ready, pumped and prepared to sing at the top of they’re lungs. Every performance was something to remember, and the kids loved every second of it. In the end the Dolphins were victorious with their rendition of I Can’t Wait to be King from The Lion King.

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We ran straight into the house quiz, with a member of the house from each class standing up and answering a question in front of the school. The questions ranged from tenses, to biology, to maths problems. The results finished with Sharks and Stingrays in the lead, however the leaders surprised us with a bonus TP round with a volunteer from each house having to answer the final question. With 2 minutes to work out the combined age of the TP team, Jeff (Tiffany) came out victorious, securing a win for the Stingrays. Next, came Sports day and the kids were raring to go. We had 4 events in which the kids would rotate. The events being; a relay, an obstacle course, shot putt and long jump, and finally a wheel barrow and three legged race. All children and volunteers gave it their all and enjoyed every minute, being the last day with each other.

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The highlight of the day, and a moment everyone will remember, was the farewell given by the school. This included, the Children singing for us, a touching speech from Miss Lo, handmade cards presented to every volunteer and finally a school photo including the TP clan. Yet still the day’s activities were not an end. For a second time the TP Team took on the Fijians at netball, this time against the professionals A.K.A The Lovely Lawaki Ladies. A gripping match followed, with neither side taking lead for too long. However with 2 minutes to go the TP team found themselves 12/10 down, but with one last push we managed to once again finish with a famous draw.

Gap Year Teaching (25)

Finally our day was at an end with tea and cakes…or so we thought. While we were enjoying the delicious cakes, the sun was setting, meaning we had to trek home in the dark, and with only a couple of head torches, this proved to be quite an adventure. Eventually we made it home still in one piece, and separated to spend our last night with our families. It was an incredible end to project. Vinaka vaka levu to the school, the families and most importantly to the children.

Shannon & Julia

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Nairai – A great ‘fun’ day for the whole village.

Gap Year Volunteering Fiji (33)

The Lawaki Fun Day had been highly anticipated among the village especially with Miss Lo, the Headteacher of Davetarua Primary school, who had told every volunteer teaching in school that “she’s been looking forward to the tombola for months”! No pressure then. What’s more, the Fun Day  was the day after the team had spent a very pleasant evening in the neighbouring village of Tovulailai where they were generously served with a feast in the hall and copious amounts of ‘high tides’ during grog.

Gap Year Volunteering Fiji (54)

The team returned home to Lawaki rather sleepily by mid-morning and, with only a few hours until opening, set to work on their chosen stalls, hoping to raise as much money for the village as possible. By two o’clock and after a rather hectic few hours, we had four stalls ready for custom; with  Amy, Alice and Rosa selling homemade luxury Oreo and lemon cakes, Cat and Aryan overseeing ‘bobbing for apples’ come ‘flour bobbing for sweets’, Tiffany, Cheryl, Kate and Jaz manning the Tombola, Shannon selling tickets from his very impressive, self-made raffle book and finally on, the rowdiest stall of them all, the ‘$1 to soak a friend with a water balloon’ stand were Jess, Julia and Poppy.

Gap Year Volunteering Fiji (42)

It was, as expected, mayhem! Lawaki’s younger generation (and the leaders!) were instantly drawn to the cakes, flour and water soaking, sometimes all at the same time. For the more mature of the village, there was nothing which would distract them from the tombola (not even Tom’s cave-man-esque bearded face covered in flour), in fact there were numerous examples of village elders reaching the front of the queue, winning a prize only to walk straight back to queue up again! It was a day of bizarre occurrences, surprising discoveries and many many laughs. Highlights included the soaking our unsuspecting building manager Jay and the Tovulailai Ratu’s reaction at winning a set of child’s pencils in the tombola for the second time in 10 minutes.

Gap Year Volunteering Fiji (47)

With all the cake sold, the tombola items gone and all the soaking complete, we drew the raffle and two lucky winners were now the owners of a Think Pacific sulu. This signalled the end of the fundraising and a tired team gathered the cash together; in total the Fun Day had raised $135 for the children of Lawaki. With a job well done, the team celebrated with a bout of face-painting and using up of the last few water balloons- nothing quite like reliving your childhood after a day in big business!