With the expedition almost at an end, there was just enough time for some last minute shopping for ice creams, Fijian handicrafts and souvenirs before arriving at Nadi Bay and Mama’s lodge. In preparation for their flight home, Abi and Matty visited the hospital to check their cuts and bites. Abi has been an absolute warrior battling with a badly cut leg and swollen foot since about day one of her trip, and we are all extremely impressed and proud that she stuck through the expedition until the end. Abi has visited clinic waiting rooms with our expedition leaders across the country, always with a smile. It is for this reason that she deservedly achieved the honour of the now infamous ‘Abi Heath Award for Determination’! An award we’ll continue for future expeditions, so her name and courage may continue!
With the afternoon sun beating down, the team sat in the shade beside the pool for a project feedback session conducted by Simon. It is so important to receive the thoughts and ideas from the team so we can make Think Pacific better and better for future volunteers, and for the communities of Fiji who our projects support. It was immense to have so much constructive feedback on all elements of the trip and to see how much the expedition, Think Pacific and Daku village has meant to everyone. Fiji, it seems, really has had the amazing impact we hoped it would have upon our volunteers.
It is touching to see how many volunteers are already making plans for return trips to Fiji to visit Daku village and see their Fijian families. It’s also great to see members of the team expressing their interest in applying for expedition leader jobs with Think Pacific. We could certainly put the talents of our volunteers to the full potential working on the staff team one day!
The final evening saw a barbeque, an awards ceremony and a speeches. Nicola read out a poem for the team (the “cheers”) written by the TP girls, and in the comedy moment of the evening, Harry saved the famous tp trophy coconut from a tourist’s machete!
Everyone was missing Daku and over drinks, which went on until the early morning, we all sat up telling stories and laughing and looking back at an incredible project.
As well as the first homework classes and the completion of so many building aims, this has been the team that brought us the TP Olympics, the establishment of project specific committees and the most successful village festival ever to be held in Daku. We’ve had the first plays, aerobics and contemporary dances for the village children, the first health and hygiene lessons and the first time a group of ‘tourists’ on Moturiki have ever mastered the ‘meke’ or made such an impression and given so much time, energy and care to the village children.
It has seen the start of cricket, rounders and soccer, the first structured TP coaching sessions for the rugby team and the beginning of the institution that will become the TP Ashes!
As the team left for the airport the next day, with Sophie saying goodbye first and then the majority of the team flying out in the evening, it was emotional, with chants of ‘TP, TP’ and hugs and tears at the airport, it was a very sad moment to see our volunteers head through the gate. With Oli, the remaining TP volunteer, due to fly out early the next morning, we headed back to the beach for dinner. At midnight, we burnt the Think Pacific Olympic Trophy on a bonfire to create the TP ashes and chatted until the early hours about Fiji.
July 09 team will forever be remembered by people of Daku as the start of something very special. So much of this team’s spirit and ideas will be carried forward for years to come. So much work lies ahead for Think Pacific as we make sure our volunteer teams keep making a huge and sustained difference to the villages of Moturiki, to make sure we fulfil the development targets of our local partners and to endeavour to provide our teams with the best, most rewarding experience of their life. It’s been a huge learning curve for our volunteers and the Think Pacific team, but one thing is for sure, we’ve loved every minute and we’ll never forget July 09.
Vinaka Vaka Levu to all our volunteers. You’ve done a tremendous job and it’s been an absolute privilege
Take care, keep in touch and we hope to see you in Fiji again soon.
Simon, Harry and Benjy x