Archive for the ‘July 2014 - Tovulailai’ Category

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Nairai Team – Fun Day, Build Opening & Meke Performances; A day that promised fun and laughter that was enjoyed by all! By Astie

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Nairai Team – ‘British Bulldogs’ introduced to Rugby warm up, and Davetarua District School kids win Rounders clash with TP Girls

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Sports coaching continued to thrive at Davetarua Primary School this week. The TP team decided to help fine tune the boys’ rugby skills, as well as helping teach the girls how to play rounders. It was a great effort by the team to help implement some structure to the rugby field, and with some solid tackling drills, the Fijian boys looked like they were ready for the international stage!

The introduction of ‘British Bulldogs’ as a warm up exercise proved extremely popular with the kids, and after the tackling drills looked all the more impressive. The boys were split into age groups and taught a variety of workouts and tips to help utilize their natural talent. While the younger boys were focusing on enjoying the basics of rugby, some of the older boys were getting stuck into some moves with our TP boys. It’s great to see how far the kids can come in such a short time with the help and enthusiasm from our team.

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Rounders was also an instant hit with the girls. With plenty of fun games as well as drills put in place for the kids, it was a great atmosphere at the rounders field with lots of laughter and high spirits. After a few practice games the kids challenged our TP girls to a game. Although the kids had plenty more players to help bat and field, that’s still no excuse for our TP girls as they had no reply to the kids onslaught, who take it only as a sign of their excellent coaching and guidance!

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Volunteer Stories – “Another Saturday, Another Adventure…”, by Ella and Molly on Nairai Island

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After the past few days being very wet and windy , the sun had finally come out ready for our trip over to the island. All the village squeezed into Big John’s rather small fishing boat and we set sail towards our destination, fishing line trailing behind us (needless to say, we caught nothing). Once on the beach, towels and books came out and we cracked on with our ever impressive t shirt and ankle tan lines. A couple of us ventured out fishing in the reef with some of the local village kids, who amazed us with their ability to run bare foot over the coral, whilst we were struggling to walk with reef shoes on.

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The sun was shining in the sky, and then a big grey cloud appeared over head and the heavens opened. As the TP team ran to the limited shelter available, our lunch was thrown into the fire. This lunch was a pig, who also joined us from the village. The pig was chopped up and it was Ella, Fud, Molly, and Phil’s job of French Plaiting these pieces into palm leaves and putting it into the underground oven (lovo). It smelt amazing but it tasted even better.

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After lunch the grog and hop hop started up again and a couple of us jumped into the sea for a spot of snorkelling. The reef absolutely amazed us with its sheer beauty and before we knew it, it was time to go home. On the boat back home, the village boys got the guitars out and we sang our way back to the village. There was even some more grog and hop hop on the boat! This was definitely one of our best days since arriving into the village!

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Nairai Team – Build Update; Community toilet block takes shape as the walls go up and the roof goes on!


It has been another big week on build for our team in Tovulailai village, and despite some “tropical” weather great progress was made once again. The week began with the roofing irons being lifted atop the structure and nailed into place, providing some shelter for the timber frame below, and a dry spot for our volunteer team!

Next up was the outside walling, with the irons being measured, placed and nailed down around the entire structure, and as each piece was placed the toilet block really began to take shape.


No week on build would be the same without some digging, and with a septic tank to be made the volunteers were busy shoveling to create the pit for the brick work. And the final task awaiting our happy, if rather damp, build crew was the inside walling that separates the cubicles, and again placement and precision were the name of the game as the ply board sheets were fitted onto the frames.

With our build team working so well, and with moral high from the ladies kind gifts of tea and cake treats througout the day, there was even time to saw pieces of wood ready for the doors to be made and hung! With just one week left on build until the community toilet block is officially opened for use, our building manager Semi shall lead one final push as the team complete their construction masterpiece!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Nairai Team – Alphabet Letters, Song Time & ‘Fun Friday’ are highlights of a fantastic week 3 in Kindi! by Fran & Izzy

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Last week at Kindi in Tovulailai on Nairai Island was an eventful one for Izzy, “Rachel the Wise”, Fran and “Rachel 3″, who had seven children in Kindi all just as energy-packed as the last. We sang songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Twinkle Twinkle and Row Row Row Your Boat, but their favourite one was the Hokey Cokey!

In learning time we were looking at the alphabet, picking a letter for each day and then picking a relevant theme to make it a fun and interactive way for the children to learn. Learning time always included lots of glitter and colouring, meaning that the four leaders got head to toe made over with sparkle! We also did a toothbrush club, after a cake filled tea time, to get them into the habit of brushing their teeth at least once a day, and this was always eventful as there was just as much toothpaste on the children as in their mouths!

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On Friday we had ‘Fun Friday’ where we took a break from doing an alphabet lesson and had a day of singing, games and of course lots of laughter. Izzy had brought in some bubbles, which was amazing; all the children loved it and took up most of the day. We also played with balloons and read some classic fairy tale stories. We had a lovely Fijian Lady called Nani who helped us with the language barrier, and all the children love her as she is a fabulous translator during story time.

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It’s safe to say the Kindi team had an absolutely cracking week and have made memories that will last with them forever and connections with the children that will always bring a smile to their faces!

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Volunteer Stories – Village feasts, Rugby and Netball contests, boat escapades and Whale watching for our team on Nairai during village visit to Waitoga & Vutuna! by Rachel & Megan

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After a crazy week, we headed to Waitoga for an overnight adventure. As we travelled along in the village’s rustic fishing boat the TP team watched the sunset over the horizon. Upon arrival in the dark, head torches at the ready, we were welcomed warmly in to our second surrogate home on the island of Nairai. The Sevu Sevu was presented, the food demolished, the grog gulped and the hop-hop commenced… After stumbling home in the pitch black due to pot holes, seeing the village in the morning was a pleasant surprise.

After the villagers kindly prepared a large spread for breakfast; the TP team stocked up on nutrients in the form of doughnuts, pancakes and crackers with jam, and the day began. Leaving our second home behind we trekked to the village of Vutuna, where a second Sevu Sevu was performed in honour of our arrival. We finally arrived at the school to play some sports, the whole purpose of the trip, with the boys challenging the locals in rugby and the girls in netball.

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The TP guys showed serious commitment against the tough Fijians, with sport really being their forte, but retired as broken men… we were proud nonetheless. However, the girls shone bright with Jenna leading the way in her scoring ability and the teams much improved effort and performance. Fran used methods of intimidation and her height advantage against the competitive goal shooter, an eight year old child. On the other hand, Gemma… still needs to learn the rules! The improvement from our drastic thrashing last week was seriously impressive and we are determined to win at least one game on our four week expedition.

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All smelling as badly as each other due to an active morning, we headed for lunch at Vutuna and didn’t they pull out all the stops! The team’s faces were a real picture when an angel in the form of a Fijian lady brought out a chocolate cake; they clearly knew how to win us over.

The boat journey home was an interesting one, with many of the TP crew taking time to reflect over their time on Nairai with it nearly being the half way mark. Suddenly, the team jumped to life as a whale emerged on the horizon… no joke! It was there, it was big and it was real. With excitement in the air, speeding on home, disaster struck! The boats engine cut out and we were stranded until the second boat sailed on past. The whole five minutes of being stranded was a scary and traumatic moment for the TP survivors compared to the carefree locals. Grabbing a tow aka a few brave Fijians straddling both boats we cruised on home at the grand total speed of 1 mile per hour. As we saw the shore, the one night slumber party on the other side of the Island had clearly taken a toll, and we were glad to be back home!