Archive for the ‘6 Month team - Koro’ Category

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

Koro 6 Month Team – ‘It has been a life changing 6 months for us all and we have created memories which we will share for a lifetime….Vinaka vaka levu!’

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The final day and night in Nacamaki village was an emotional and crazy one. We started the day in the afternoon with the school house cup finals, which saw all the parents there to support their children. After some fantastic songs and speech performances, house blue came out victorious. But then it was time to prepare for the evening ahead.

Freshly showered, most colourful attire on and grog chasers ready, the team headed down to the hall for a wonderful meal prepared by the village which we got to enjoy with them! Once the team had stuffed themselves on pork, chicken, fish and various other dishes, it was a short 30 minutes to digest and prepare for the long awaited meke’s – which the team have been practising for the last week. The girls went first, all looking spectacular, and entertained the crowd with a lovely, traditional meke. The girls were extremely happy with their performance and so were the crowd! After the girls had finished, the boys took to the stage, shocking everyone with their entrance and seriousness…with some questionable leaf skirts and warrior paint, the boys performed an amazing and funny meke which left the crowd wanting more!

After the team had finished theirs, the village had prepared their own meke to show us all how it’s done…and they did not disappoint. Re-showered and with very high morale, it was time to get the night started. A lot of the team have been having some late nights in grog recently, so they have now gotten used to it, to say the least. In the early hours of the morning, the first of the team started making their excuses, but it’s safe to say, with the village being very sleepy on Tuesday, that it was an incredible night, one which will not be forgotten!

With the 6 months coming to an end, we can look back on what we have achieved…3 inter-school competitions, 3 community sports days, sports outreaches to every child on the island, 2 kindi outreaches, training and coaching 3 rugby teams, coaching 2 netball teams…just to name a few, and obviously the incredible change and developments in the children of both schools and kindergartens, but the most memorable achievement was the love and the relationships we have created with two wonderful communities of people, which we will never forget! It has been a life changing 6 months for us all and we have created memories which we will share for a lifetime….Vinaka vaka levu!

Friday, August 7th, 2015

iTaukei Culture – An honour for our volunteers to learn traditional art of making ‘Masi’ in Nacamaki village on Koro Island!

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Masi is a hugely important and sacred material in Fiji. Masi, also passionately known as ‘The cloth of the gods’ is a traditional material used both past and present , and has been at the heart of the culture and traditions for Fijian people, and has survived as a part of their everyday life. Although today in Fiji, the tradition of making Masi has been decreased to just two remote islands, Vatulele Island and some villages in the Lau group, the tradition and material still remain a common sight in all communities in Fiji, as a gift or decoration at weddings, birthdays, family celebrations, funerals, traditional wear for the meke and as decoration for homes.

Nacamaki Village, in the past, were famous in Koro for making the Masi, and are blessed with the Masi tree’s growing around the village.

Amazingly, only one old lady still knows the process of making and designing the Masi from scratch, and hands this tradition down to the women of the village, to keep the beautiful art alive. And for the first time in our time in the islands, a Think Pacific team would learn, and make, the Masi!

As seen in the pictures, after the inside of the tree has been unravelled and soaked in water, we used a wooden mallet, especially made for the beating of the Masi, to flatten out and spread the material into what looks like long strips of white paper.

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After the team put in a good effort beating and binding the pieces of Masi flattened out during the day, we put them out to dry in the sun, to complete the binding process and prepare for the next day of designing the Masi with different Fijian patterns and designs, this is called Masi Kesa.

After our Masi teacher had prepared the stencils for the patterns, and the oiled coal and clay for the colouring, the team watched as the lovely lady worked with quick and impressive precision, printing the border of the design and adding in the teams ideas for design and colour.

The finished pieces looked amazing, and it was an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience for us and our team, to witness first-hand the Masi being made by a lady who has learnt this craft from her family as it was passed down from many previous generations and ancestors. Our plan as a team was to present the Masi to Nacamaki village as a gift on the last day in the village, but surprisingly the ladies presented them to us as a gift. One of our greatest memories on an island to date, and a very special, sentimental gift to receive at the end of an amazing project, which will be a reminder of all our achievement’s as a team, and the memories we have shared with our Fijian families and friends over the past 6 months!

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Koro 6 Month Team – Nacamaki Beach Afternoon…”Ucuinuku…Nacamaki!”

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As the lally went at 1 o’clock it signalled the end of an era! For the Think Pacific team school was out and that could only mean one thing, BEACH TIME!

The whole school headed down to the beach and set about constructing the volleyball net. Preparations completed, it was time for the fun to begin. Danny was first in the water, closely followed by the class 1-4 children. Soon, excited squeals, splashes and giggles filled the air. Sam and Craig turned a child into a human cannonball, swinging and throwing him into the water. It wasn’t long until this was the favourite attraction and a queue had formed!

Meanwhile on the beach, children were burying themselves and each other in the sand. On court, the volleyball game was in full swing with the enthusiastic Mrs Vani taking no prisoners.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and when the clock struck 3, all the children headed home, leaving just the Nacamaki TP team. This left just 1 thing to do after a lovely little speech from Tommy…a classic hands in game cheer!


Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Koro 6 Month Team – Huge birthday celebrations for Charlotte & Stuart in Nacamaki village!

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As the clock struck midnight I was surprised with a rendition of happy birthday, happy long life and may god bless you and then 3 cheers to top it off. It was the start of an unforgettable Fijian birthday. I was awoken by the sounds of my friends arriving, my fantastic sister Jenny had organised a surprise breakfast for me, copious amounts of hot custard and bright green Vundi cake were eaten and after my little brothers and sisters had finished off the leftovers, it was time for school.

In Kindi it wasn’t just my birthday, it was also Christmas. It was a crazy fun day in Kindi but that’s another blog! At the end of the day, all of the kids sang happy birthday to me and presented me with a special birthday card signed by each child themselves.

In the evening, it was party time! A shed had been built for the party especially by Dad, my Mum had cooked me an amazing roast chicken and a multitude of cakes had been made by the village. Now it was time for me to get ready, I was taken to my auntie’s house and dressed in layers and layers of traditional Fijian Masi by all the women in my family. I then entered the shed where my Dad gave a beautiful speech. I had a wonderful cake and flapjacks made by Jennie and Frankie. After the food was eaten, hophop and grog began to flow.

It was the perfect birthday!

by Charlotte

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It is a strange thing to celebrate one’s birthday in a foreign land, but stranger still to celebrate it twice in a week! We began as we always do, at the beginning, a Monday in this case, around the time of 5 o’clock. With the decision to celebrate my birthday on Friday, I was settled to a rather pleasant day with a book, when I heard a sound rather familiar to me; it was the mixing of kava, the preparation of grog and it was happening right outside my room!

Well when I popped my head out to have a look at what was happening, I saw not only my mum and others around the bowl but beside it was a cake, baked in the shape of a heart, a gesture kind enough to make my own swell! So I sat for a few hours, devouring cake and grog alike until it was time for meke practise. Afterwards, we had a little party in the grog shed, where lots of people had come to join me for a few bowls!

This was, however, not the end of the celebrations, for another approached, and this was the bigger one of the two. Friday came as any other day, though it was far from that! After an emotional day of saying goodbyes to Vunivasa School, I arrived home and got my mum to do what so many have wanted to do…cut my hair! The length of it had gotten out of hand and needed to be dealt with. This surprise of course didn’t surprise everyone when I was inevitably wrapped in a dress made of Masi! Covered in ‘the cloth of the gods’ I made my way up to the top of the grog shed, a place where many of my friends had sat before, and now me, the last of our group to celebrate their birthday in Fiji.

By this point I thought my joy had peeked until I looked at my personal food table in front of me and there was a pizza especially for me, guarded by two enormous cakes! Before we ate, I received the wonderful gift of a sulu and a Fijian flag signed by the team. And a very impressive card drawn by the artistic Rebecca. Of grog and hop-hop I will say only that much fun was had and many songs sung along the way. I remained until the end, which was the early hours of the morning, where four of us sat, I with a huge smile of happiness on my face as the thunderous clap came, signalling the grog had finished….

by Stuart

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Koro 6 Month Team – Immense final days of education programmes at Vunivasa and Nacamaki Primary Schools & Kindergartens after 6 incredible months in the clasrooms for our volunteer team!

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Final Days in Nacamaki Kindi – by Jennie, Stuart & Rebecca

The final week in Nacamaki Kindi was an action packed one that had the children taking on a different role each day. Monday had paint pallets, brushes and a huge blank canvas ready for the kids to recreate the splash paint work of Jackson Pollark. The children finished their fantastic project covered in paint and with huge smiles on their faces. It now hangs on pride of place on the ceiling of the Kindi art gallery. Tuesday had the children taking the wonderful journey to the African plains where they performed a ceremonial rain dance to help to bring the rain. With the imaginary rain falling all around, we all gathered under a home-made rain shelter to listen to a story. The imaginary rainfall was then celebrated by the throwing of water balloons, which soon escalated to a full blown water fight! Soaked and smiling, the TP teachers were satisfied with another good day.

Wednesday was army day and the children proved that there are no obstacles that they can’t overcome when they completed the assault course. A bilo of rum (water) helped the children through Thursday’s pirate day, where scurvy ripped through the hoard of pirates. This did not dampen their spirits and they thoroughly enjoyed following the clues, which led to the spot marked with an ‘X’, where they dug to find their treasure.

After an exciting week, it was time for the Nacamaki children to graduate from the Think Pacific Kindi programme. They took their seats looking very cute in their graduation hats. 3 proud TP volunteers called the children to the stage to celebrate the amazing progress that they have made over the past 6 months. Each child left with a certificate and personalized award medal!

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Christmas Comes to Kindi – by Jo

To finish our celebrations themed week in Kindi, we decided Christmas should come early and we should share things that we enjoy in England during Christmas time.

The day started with the decoration of a somewhat shabby looking tree, the kids then went to ‘sleep’ in the hope that Father Christmas might come. And sure enough he did, in the shape of Danny, sporting a cotton wool beard and sunglasses. Santa released red and green balloons to the kids, much to their excitement. Once we managed to get them back from that and the upset that there wasn’t a balloon per person, toilet tubes disguised as crackers were given out by Santa to congratulate them for being good children.

Next, a miraculous thing occurred, it SNOWED in Fiji!! The kids were transformed from 5 year olds to old people as the flour/snow, which Danny sprinkled down from the roof, made them worry that the ‘snow’ will ruin their Christmas best! So we decided the most appropriate way to wash them down was to have a good old traditional water fight. The next 30 minutes consisted of chasing kids, refilling bottles and getting absolutely soaked in the process. The kids proceeded to essentially have showers under the taps before complaining of the cold as they waddled home.

Merry Christmas Kindi!

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Bringing Hollywood to Kind – by Jo, Jamie & Charlotte

Our last Friday in school was upon us and it proved to be one of the most emotional. For me, Jo and Charlotte we decided to go out with a bang and bring Hollywood to Kindi for the day. After week of frenzied preparation, a Hollywood sign which took over my life and the construction of a very emotional slide show, we were ready for the big day. Jo and Charlotte both dressed for the occasion in lovely colourful ball gowns, and we then rolled out the red carpet, which was actually mustard yellow, and welcomed the dressed up kids one by one, the paparazzi (James) buzzing around, as they entered into our final Friday bungalow.

After our last ever tooth-brushing time, the kids went off for recess and we prepared for the main awards ceremony, with each child receiving a personalised medal with their individual awards on it! By the time we came to our main prize of Kindi all-star for Alena and most improved for Elenoa, all the kids were smiling with their range of awards; going from Melo winning best friend and Roli being the Space cadet.

The most emotional part was still to come however, with Vini making a thank you speech and Tevita, winner of ‘most likely to be president’, presented us all with handmade shell necklaces, before we had to say our own thank you speeches to the kids, the mums and Vini for all the help we have had along the way. To conclude the day we put on our slide show of all the photos we had taken during our time in Kindi, enthralling the Kindi kids and their mothers, who had descended upon the building with piles and piles of cake, biscuits and tang and we ended our final emotional day in Kindi with a party with the kids that we will never forget!

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Nacamaki Class 1 & 2 Make A Splash – by Louise J

The topic this week in class 1 & 2 is the sea, the river and the creek. So on Thursday Craig, Mrs. Milika and I took the students down to the beach in front of the school for their first swimming lesson. We all set off with floats in hand and really excited children. As Craig is a fully qualified lifeguard, we decided to work on the children kicking their legs in different ways whilst they held on to the floats.

They had so much fun while we pulled 2/3 children at a time into the sea, then turning back towards the beach. There was lots of splashing from all the kicking in the water. Craig and I was so surprised that many of the children were able to swim and were very confident. Mika in class 1 was not able to swim, but after a few times being taken into the water he eventually became relaxed with me and was enjoying kicking his legs while holding onto the float. We then got the class into three teams, where they had a relay race, swimming towards us – this built up the fun even more.

After the race we then all got out of the water and finished off by making sandcastles, we used empty coconuts and decorated them with shells. It was my most enjoyable lesson on project, being both mine and Craig’s favourite moment of the week!

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Moce Class 2 – by Charlotte

I can’t believe how quickly these past few months have gone and how much time I have spent with class 2 and all the other children at Vunivasa School. It feels like only yesterday I first walked into class 2 and now it has come to an end. Those children have been such a big part of my experience on Koro island and have all come such a long way from when I first met them, making leaving them going to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do!

Nothing has made me happier than walking into that classroom every day. Friday was my last day with class 2 and so as a thank you, I bought biscuits, juice and lollies for them all – to say I was outdone is an understatement! Friday was also Atu’s 7th birthday, so nana Ateca put on a massive spread of juice, biscuits, cake and custard pie to say happy birthday to him and goodbye to me. My biscuits and juice didn’t even get a second look!

After a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, Miss Buliruarua stood up to say a few words of goodbye and by that point I was completely overwhelmed with emotion that I could barely say anything back or give them the card myself and Frankie had made for them. The whole class then sang ‘see you again’ which is a song Sam and I had taught them and Epeli (my favourite) gave me a necklace, which set me off in floods of tears again. It was such a bittersweet party but was a great way to round off an amazing 6 months with class 2!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Rugby Development – Think Pacific assist with Koro Kaji tournament in build up to national competitions!

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For the past 3 weeks, the children of primary schools in Koro have been competing at the Kaji trials to see who will represent the island at the national rugby and netball tournaments to be held in Suva at the end of August. Dan, Tommy and I were given the chance to help out at the trials and give our opinions and views on who should make the rugby squad.

At school in the weeks leading up to the trials we trained the boys. The progress the boys made throughout the weeks was great to see and the Nacamaki boys were ready to tear up the Kaji.

After just observing the first trials we 3 were handed more responsibility for the following 2 weeks and conducted tests to measure the players tackling, passing and speed. This showed the teachers that to understand a player’s ability you need to observe more than just matches.

After the drills were out the way, the matches started and the Nacamaki boys were the stand out performers, with Vula, Vatili, Bubbles and Suli in particular impressing. It was a very rewarding experience to be invited to help out with the trials and I hope the boys get something out of it and bring the trophy back for Koro!

By Taff