Saturday was the beginning of the end in some respects with build, kindi, teaching and sport all finished, and it was a day that promised lots of fun and laughter in the company of our full Fijian families with the kids also back from school.
I was awoken at 8 on Saturday morning, not by the cockerels or the howling wind but by Ellie and Rachel banging on our door telling myself and Tom that everyone was waiting for us for a group breakfast at Ella and Fran’s. Cake for breakfast is certainly a part of the Fijian lifestyle that I will never forget and try to continue at home!
At 9 we went to set up our stalls for the village fun day. We had a coconut shy, a soak the Kavalagi stall, a stall selling cakes, sweets and bracelets and my stall, rugby challenge. If we’d hoped that our cement block carrying days were over we were very much mistaken as 5 piles were needed for the coconut shy and we had to carry enough to make a hole/goal for the rugby ball to be passed into from the various distances.
The cake went incredibly quickly with two of the mothers taking the whole lot within the first 5 minutes and sweets started to shift swiftly too! After some hard marketing we started to attract interest at the other stalls with the villagers especially enjoying throwing buckets of water over various volunteers. We found at the rugby stall that as soon as kids completed it once (passed the ball into the hole from each of the three distances) they kept on coming back as they were getting two sweets for 10 cents every time! Proceedings were wrapped up at around 11.30 as prizes ran out and we were later told that we’d raised $120, so it was a very productive morning in all!
In the afternoon we had the grand opening of the toilet block. We started off by having a sort of reception in the hall where some words and prayers were said and a few bowls of grog were drunk.
From there we walked up to the toilet block which had been partially covered in some bright cloth and string tied across the front, ready to be cut by the guest of honour, the Ratu (Chief). As the elder female in the Ratu family Rachel number 2 (Grant) was dressed up in traditional Fijian dress and escorted from her house to the toilet block, carrying the scissors on a cushion, by her ‘bodyguards’ Fud and Rob. Before he cut the string, Ratu gave a short speech, which was very humbling and made us realise how much the villagers appreciate something as simple as four toilets.
After the opening we went home to get changed ready to do our meke’s. The girls were dressed in their TP t-shirts and sulus, with the addition of leaves around their wrists, waists and necks, whereas the boys had a lot more flesh on show as we were in just our TP sulus with some leaves around our neck and charcoal ‘paint’ across our faces and torsos.
The girls were up first for their meke, following the leaders’ mum, and some of the girls were even treated to a peck on the cheek from one of the Fijian lads as he applied some talcum powder as a sign of happiness. The boys followed and all we could hear for the next 5 minutes was shrieks of laughter as the locals watched us! We thought we’d finished about five or six times only for the music to restart and for us to hurriedly try and work out what part of the song we were at! All in all it was an amazing day enjoyed by all!