As the team depart Gau Island and make their way along the beautiful coral coast, the impact and achievements during the 8 weeks in the village will remain vivid in the minds of all the volunteers for a very long time. The community of Nawaikama offered the team a spectacular last week in the village and made sure their new sons and daughters had the best few days before they set sail to the mainland. The team were treated to experience something truly unique as the fishing clan took out volunteers each night over the week to go out night spearfishing. With the coral reef surrounding Gau offering some the best snorkeling in the whole of Fiji, it was an unbelievable experience and one that the volunteers won’t forget in a hurry. Amy was our natural fisherwoman, catching an impressive hoard during her trip.
Much to the delight of the team, the final week also offered plenty of time spent with the clans and families. With the Fijian families lying at the heart of the expeditions, our guys all enjoyed a big farewell feast and grog session with their own clans. Immersing ourselves into traditional Fijian culture we also set to work on learning and practicing our mekes. With some of the school boys and village ladies helping teach our guys the traditional Fijian dances, the meke practices became the source of entertainment for the villagers as they would sing and laugh their way through the practices. The night before the opening ceremony saw the team dress up in their meke getup and perform it to the chief. In true Nawaikamain spirit, the grog was in full flow with some of our guys seeing it through til sunrise.
Our final Saturday in the village saw the team host a ‘Think Pacific Fun Day’ for the village. With cake and sweet stalls, a treasure map, splat the rat, ‘art’ corner and a tombola offering some entertainment before a village volleyball tournament, it was a great afternoon spent with the whole community. The money raised will go towards school equipment and supplies for both the secondary and primary school so thank you for everyone who contributed in any way shape or form during the day.
Sunday was a sober affair as it was time to say our very emotional goodbyes to our Fijian mums, dads, brothers and sisters. As a team we performed ‘Amazing Grace’ in church before the volunteers said their words of thanks and appreciation to their individual clans.
And on that note, it was time for one final grog and hop hop until sunrise. It’s hard to sum up an experience like the last 8 weeks as the team have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into a community that has welcomed them with arms wide open. The kindness and loving nature of the Fijian families will stay with the team forever and their Fijian families will always keep their doors open for their sons and daughters to return.