A traditional Fijian birthday party for Helen…
Archive for October, 2009
A few photos from this week’s health awareness project on Moturiki Island: well done to the team for leading some fantastic initiatives with our local Fijian partners.
There’s a huge amount to catch up on from our tiny island in Fiji; The last week has seen lots more hard work from the team, great progress in the building and teaching projects, some really important health initiatives getting underway, some Fiji-style birthday celebrations, and then, the terrible news that a dear Fijian friend, who made such an amazing impact upon our July volunteer teams, has sadly passed away…
Wednesday 14th October –
Today was a big day on the build as it saw both the flooring and the new walling completed by the team, and it was intricate work to cut the timbers around the window frames and size the flooring into narrow gaps. There were also further wall joists and rafters that were rotten being replaced, it is now really starting to come together. In the kindi Chris, Joe, Rachel and Laura had the kids out playing, and after a few rounds of “duck duck goose” and the “hokey cokey” they headed back inside for classes. In school it was the first day of the environment workshop, with Adam teaching class 5 & 6 about waste management and showing them the example compost that we have set up, whilst Emily and Laura went into class 1 to talk about saving endangered species and getting a litter pick going. The projects are a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness for the environment through interacting with the kids and it was great to see it up and running. The sports in the afternoon are now in full flow, and I think Oli is happy to have the older kids for football so that the games can be a little more structured than the class 1 & 2, however enthusiastic they may be! Rounders and Frisbee are also underway with Adam and Laura.
In the afternoon Megan and Derry, who are volunteering with Latitude in Nassessara village, came down to Naicabecabe as they are very keen to be involved in the health awareness programme that we shall be running in the school from next week, and so we called the health committee together to go through the posters and leaflets once more and to chat again about which illnesses and diseases we are keen to focus on. Our hope is to expand on the health syllabus for the kids and provide information and posters that they can refer back to in the future, as well as providing some very basic first aid practice for class 7 & 8 through workshops with the volunteers, it should be a really good process. In the evening the volunteers enjoyed some mellow bowls of grog at different houses, with Holly mentioning how much fun it was to go on a “grog crawl”!
Thursday 15th October –
There was a real buz on the build today, with lots to do and the team working in little “pods” with the Fijian guys. With Maria looking to stay on at school she will now spend every Thursday on the build so that she can be a part of the work going on there, and she was straight to work with Adam and Russi to replace rotten walling on the east side and then board up with walling the gaps left by two windows in the old church, which was not an easy job perched on home made ladders! Fiona, Oli Mcmann, Holly, Danielle and Cat meanwhile were putting primer on all the Frascia boards ready for the undercoat, and Scott and Emily were working with Tomasi on replacing the rotten walling on the back side of the hall whilst Helen began filling the small holes in the old timbers with wood putty. Later in the morning Jack also asked for 2 windows to be made, and it was a labour of love as Scott and Holly made their window, there were lots of smiles like proud parents when it was complete! Oli Mcmann, Helen and Cat also did a fantastic job with their window, very soon the team will put Jack out of work! In the kindi Chris introduced “drip, drip, drop “ to replace “duck duck goose”, and it was so funny watching everyone squeezing water all over each other and chasing each other around the circle, I think it is fair to say that Rachel came out particularly damp!:) With food being the theme for the week in kindi they also had a cracker eating competition after break time which was hilarious, and the team seemed really happy with their morning when I caught them at lunch!
In school Oli Gray was left to take class 8 with Maria on the build, and I think he enjoyed the responsibility as it was his “highlight of the day” at the de-brief. It was also the second day of the environment workshop, with Adam taking classes 7 & 8 and Laura and Emily taking classes 3 & 4. Sports continued as ever. At the de-brief two football captains were named as Oli Gray and Joe ready for the clash of the Think Pacific titans on Monday afternoon, it is now up to them to assemble their teams between the team and the villagers, it should be an immense sporting spectacle! And in the evening the villagers from Ulibau village came down to meet the team and see the projects, and after a sevusevu in the hall, and an incredible amount of cakes that they had brought, the grog party began, with the guitars being played, songs being sung and dancing for all!:)
Friday 16th October –
This morning it was another busy time on the build, with the windows put up, the inside of the wall primered and the undercoat of the frascia boards applied. They also cracked on with putting the wood putty in the small holes so that they can then be completely sanded down, and finished boarding up the holes of the old window. Jack also replaced the rotten top plate on the old wall and made the main entrance door, we are looking forward to another big week next week, with the room to be built inside and the roofing irons to be changed and painted. Friday is music day in the kindi, and Chris was happy to see that the kids are getting better on the recorders. It was also the second day for the environment “workshop” with the kindi kids, and Cat and Danielle had them doing another litter pick around the village and drawing and colouring in the endangered animals and learning their names.
In school the afternoon saw Adam take the second computer class, with Oli Mcmann sadly out of action. With a very sore and infected foot, our expedition leaders have been making daily visits to the doctors with Oli, whilst he gets back to full fitness.
Chris continued with his school music class, and both were once again a huge success. On Fridays the sports are more of a free for all, with the kids choosing which sports they are keen to play and the team setting up little games for them to have some fun. As we work towards the school sports day however Fridays will prove a perfect time for practice matches.
The health committee also met today to plan the first aid practical for the kids, and also allocate the classes that each person will focus on so that we are ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday with the programme. At the de-brief myself, tim and Benjy were quick to say what a fantastic week it has been, and I think everyone is looking forward to a relaxed weekend!:)
Saturday 17th October –
After a big week on the projects the team took the opportunity today to head into Levuka to check emails, pick up some snacks and have a ‘Blitz’…possibly the best ice cream ever made! On the way back to the village on the outboards we were joined by 15 or so Dolphins swimming along side, including a mother and her baby dipping and diving, which was incredible moment. And with the sun shining back in the village Holly, Benjy and Oli Gray headed out snorkelling whilst Emily, Scotty, Alice, Joe, Chris and Tim went for a sea bath with a load of the kids, it’s a hard life! In the evening we were invited by the teachers to visit Nasauvuki for a grog party, and as ever the guitars were out and the dancing was in full swing. And at midnight there was a fun walk back through the jungle and home to Naicabecabe!
Sunday 18th October –
It’s amazing how fast Sabbath seems to come around! The team attended church with the village in the morning, and then it was another busy day of resting, reading and sitting in the sunshine! With it being a bank holiday for Diwali tomorrow Oli and Joe also finalised their teams for the football match in the afternoon, and the count down began for Helen’s big day!
Monday 19th October –
Today was Helen’s big day, so the day began with her opening her cards and pressies from the team, and threats of birthday bumps from the project leaders! With it being the Diwali bank holiday there was no school or kindi, and so the health committee of Maria, Chris, Rachel, Fiona took the opportunity to plan their workshops for the week, beginning with the first aid sessions with class 7 & 8 tomorrow. On the build there was lots to do, with Scotty and Emily building the third window, Holly, Maria and Joe completing the walling blocks on the east side, Dannielle painting the undercoat on the frascia boards and Laura continuing the primer on the new wall. Jack, Tomasi and Anasa were also busy hanging the windows and doors, and the building is really starting to take shape which is great. In the afternoon it was time for the clash of the titans football match, and with the south pacific sun beating down it was decided to play four 15 minute quarters. There were some top performances, with Tomasi, Isikeli and Maciu shining on Oli’s team and Russi, Danielle and of course the birthday girl putting in storming efforts on Joe’s team. The match ended 2-1 to Oli’s team (and Tim has insisted that I mention that he scored both with some quick footwork and ruthless finishing), but football on the day was the winner with lots of the village guys getting involved and lots of laughter all round! Arriving back in to the village the ladies had done an incredible job in decorating the hall with flowers, mats and sulus hung, and the team and villagers sat together for cakes and tea to celebrate Helen’s birthday. Marama had also made the traditional Fijian dress for Helen to wear which was very special, and after a good feast there was the big beach bonfire. After some birthday dancing, the group sat around the fire telling stories and singing songs, with a memorable version of Bohemian Rhapsody, before Chris let loose some fireworks to light up the sky, it was quite an evening!
Tuesday 20th October –
On the build this morning it was all about roofing irons and painting. With the sun beating down Adam did a great job in climbing up onto the roof with Anasa and Tomasi to rip off the old roofing irons and nail on the new sheets, whilst Emily, Cat, Helen and Danielle continued to put the primer on the new walls and windows, and apply the undercoat to the frascia boards. With ipods on there was some great singing and dancing as they worked! In the afternoon Joe, Oli and Scott were also up on the roof.
The Kindi this morning welcomed Scott into the family, and it was a big day with the kids making a get well card for Oli, who we decided to move across to a little cottage in Levuka for a couple of days to make sure he gets the best treatment for his foot infection. With some antibiotics and Tim’s excellent cooking, we’re hoping he’ll be back in no time!
In the village it was time for the weekly ‘litter pick’ as part of the environment programme, and the team were very happy to see how excited the kids were with all the rubbish they were able to find! In school it was a big day with the start of the health workshops, with Maria, Chris and Alice taking class 7 for 1st Aid, and Holly, Oli, Rachel and Fiona taking class 8 1st Aid. All came back to say that it was extremely productive, with the kids interacting and really getting involved which is very positive. The workshops also tie in very neatly with their health science syllabus, and the health committee are looking forward to their class workshops with the other forms over the next 2 weeks. It was also good to hear that Alice’s highlight of the day was being given more of a role in teaching the kids in class 4, whilst Fiona was happy after her first day as an assistant in class 3! In sports the rotation continued, with cricket being introduced rather rounders, alongside rugby, netball and football. As ever the kids and team had allot of fun, although Holly and Chris missed out after finding their new “Nasauvuki Family”, spending the afternoon having some food and telling stories together.
On a different note, tomorrow will be the funeral of Va, a wonderful lady from Daku who died very suddenly last week. Va and her family looked after Abi and Joe during the July project, and she was someone who everyone was very close to with her ability to light up a room with jokes and laughter. And so today myself and Ben went with the villagers from Naicabecabe to make our offering of crops, mats and a donation to the family, and tomorrow the whole team will attend the funeral on what will be a very sad day for the whole island and Think Pacific.
Wednesday 21st October –
Today was the funeral of Va, an incredible lady in Daku village who had made such a huge impression on our team during their time there in July on the project. Va was an absolute gem of a lady who could light up a room with her laughing and teasing, and for her to die so suddenly last week was extremely sad for everyone who had been so lucky to meet her. In respect we stopped all work on the projects today and attended the funeral as a team, all our thoughts and prayers are with her family.
Thursday 22nd October –
Back on the projects it was a busy day on the build. Adam and Scott did a great job on scowering down the roofing irons, and with the help of Cat they then began applying the primer to the roof. With more sanding to be done Helen, Maria and Rachel were absolute troopers, and with aching arms the job was complete after lunch and the hall is now ready for its undercoat. Danielle also began putting the top coat on the frascia boards. In the kindi they started off with the name game, and then sang the “1, 2, 3, 4, 5”. After snack time Joe, Chris and Laura had them outside playing a game of Hop Scotch which was allot of fun, and it was then time for the number boards and story time before the kids set off for home. In school it was the second day of health workshops, with information on diabetes and smoking and drinking being taught to the classes. Sports continued as usual with cricket and football being coached alongside rugby and netball.
Friday 23rd October –
This morning the team cracked on, with Emily and Danielle beginning the undercoat on the front wall of the hall, Oli, Helen and Cat completing the primer on the roof, and Jack, Tomasi and Anasa putting up the frascia boards. In the kindi Chris said that it was the best music lesson yet with the recorders as the kids were really starting to get the hang of it. The kids also had fun with the lego at play time, before having relay races outside with Joe and Chris for games. At school Holly and Maria continued their revision classes for 7 & 8, whilst Alice was really enjoying helping class 4, with a boys vs girls spelling test to keep the kids on their toes! And with it being Friday the sports were great as the kids can choose which game to get involved with. In the evening it was the kindi fundraiser “movie night”, and so Fiona, Adam, Scotty, Laura and Rachel spent the morning helping Teresa and Joanna bake the custard pies, chocolate puddings and banoffee pies to raise funds. It was $50c entrance for adults and $30c for kids, and with juice being sold and a kati for pies and puddings it was a real success. And I think all the kids and the village enjoyed the treat of some movies! And with Oli Mcmann feeling much better and getting the all clear from the docs, it was great to have the full team together again.
Last week was a massive week for Sports. After coaching the Moturiki District School Under 14’s Rugby Team every afternoon for the last 3 weeks, at last brought the Old Capital Festival to Levuka. The tournament was divided into 2 pools, each pool containing 6 teams. After our first 3 games, we had 3 wins under our belt and were feeling good. However the next two games dampened our mood a little as we drew both, mainly thanks to the referee for cutting down the match length from 5 minutes to 2 and a half on one game. However after half an hour of anxious waiting, the announcement came up in Fijian, after seeing the team’s reaction I knew we were through to the semi finals. The team we came up against were giants- many of them looking much older than 14 and a few looking older than me! However MDS under 14’s played incredibly well, staying on the other teams try line for most of the game. However after another 6 minute game, neither side had scored so we went into extra time. After a forward pass the opposition were over our line and the ref decided he had had enough and ended the game. At the point I flew onto the pitch, screaming at the ref it was a forward pass and that we were in the middle of extra time! It was definitely a forward pass so I continued arguing that we were robbed! Even after this huge disappointment, my team shook hands and kept their heads up high, telling me they were looking forward to start training again on Tuesday. I couldn’t have asked anything more of my team.
The next day was full of even more excitement as it was a day of celebration of the village and marked the day we had to perform our meke to the entire village and plenty more supporters. We had been practicing this group dance for the last fortnight and after half an hour of dressing up in the typical meke gear we were ready. It went amazingly well considering we had women trying to cover us with talcum powder and put sweets in our mouths half way through. This was followed by a huge feast of a dinner in the half finished village hall. One of my favourite Fijian traditions is to sprawl out on the floor after eating a massive meal- something I will look to bring back to England. After the meal, the kava session was in full flow, however due to Sabbath falling on the next day, dancing had to stop at midnight sharp- a look of disappointment swept over the group when this happened. After a big night on the grog, there is nothing better than having a day committed to sleeping the entire day after, luckily for us the next day was Sabbath so this was exactly what happened. Sleeping till 3pm in the afternoon is a perfect way to cure a grog hangover.
Anyway it’s time to hit another kava session with lots of dancing,
Saturday 10th October –
Naicabecabe Day was finally upon us, and at 8am the team were up for a last run through of the mekes. It was then a waiting game for the boats to come from Suva bringing those coming to celebrate the day back in the village. With their arrival due for 10am, very quickly the day fell into the loving arms of “Fiji Time”, and at 3pm the boats could be seen on the beach. By this time the village had enjoyed a feast in the community hall, and after those arriving had eaten we attended a church service together. It was a year to the day that the church was opened and the community of Naicabecabe had said that they should gather every year on that day to have a soli and spend time together. After the service the sevusevu was performed, and then the kindi kids performed their two mekes and two songs that the team had taught them in kindi, with “bah bah black sheep” a highlight as they had masks and hats! The team then got changed for their mekes, and the ladies had done a fantastic job with their salusalus’ and vesas’. The mekes’ went really really well, as the team looked relaxed and smiling throughout, despite allot of talcum powder being thrown around on their heads and faces, a wonderful Fijian tradition!:) All the villagers were there to woop and cheer, and we owe a huge thanks to Mosese and Asanaca for teaching the mekes’ and performing them with the team! In the evening the soli began for the grog party, and the hall was full packed as we drank and danced all evening. The soli itself was a huge success, with over $800 raised for the community! At 11.30pm, and with Sabbath on the horizon, the guitars were put down and the whole hall began singing Fijian hymns, a “Fiji moment” that will not be forgotten in a hurry!
Sunday 11th October –
After the grog party the night before it was a slow start to the Sabbath day, with everyone coming together for tea in the hall. The team then had a rest before another feast at lunch in the hall, where a pig had been slaughtered for the occasion. And it was another busy Sabbath afternoon of reading, telling stories and napping before the grog began. Sabbath grog parties are always special as everyone sits together singing hymns, and of course with it being “Fiji Day” tomorrow the grog party went long into the night. After the stroke of midnight there was even time for Oli Gray and Adam Burt, the last men standing, to be up on their feet and asking the ladies for a dance!:)
Friday 9th October –
Today was an early start for the team as we loaded onto the boats at 7am to head into Levuka, everyone was very excited for the sports ahead. Meeting the school teachers and rest of the kids at the wharf, we then fell into our lines ready for the march through the town to the ground, and it was great to have such a presence supporting the children. To open the day there was a speech from guests and the national anthem was sung, and then it was game time!
In the group stages the girls were absolutely un-stoppable in the netball, with 12 wins out of 12 as the Under 10s, 12s and 14s cruised through playing some superb netball and making Alice, Emily and all the team extremely proud, as well as all the villagers who were there supporting. The Moturiki friends and family were certainly making the most noise, and the atmosphere at the netball court was incredible. In the rugby the under 10s showed some strong defence to win their group with 3 wins and 1 draw, whilst the under 14s also went through with 3 impressive wins and 2 draws as they too did Scott and Joe very proud! Sadly the Under 12s didn’t make it through after 2 draws and 2 losses, although the two teams who ultimately met in the final, Levuka Public School and Delana Methodist Primary School, were the two to go through form their group and myself and tim could not have asked for any more from the boys!
With the semi-finals to come, the Under 10s were very sadly disqualified for playing a girl who was 5 days too old, and it left Alice and Emily and all the girls so so disappointed as they had ben un-touchable up to that point, after training so hard. But the girls have assured me that next year they will be even better, and they can head home so proud with their games. The Under 12s stormed through to the final, where with just moments to go were squeezed out by Loreto 3-4, and yet again there was nothing but praise from everone watching for their efforts! The Under 14s missed out in the semi-final 4-5 against a very big LPS side, and looking back there was a sense of frustration for Emily and Alice and their girls that with only two games lost in 14, they missed out on the trophies, but they were quick to say just how amazing their kids had been, going in as huge under-dogs against the much bigger Ovalau schools.In the rugby it was a simllar story of pride and frustration, as the Under 14s lost in sudden death extra time in their semi-final against Marist Convent School to a very obvious forward pass, and the Under 10s lost out in their final to a sudden death drop kick competition when they couldn’t be separated in normal time. So no trophies to bring back to Moturiki Island, but the kids had given everything and made everyone so so proud. We arrived as the huge underdogs, and left as everyones favourites, people will no longer ask who the Moturiki District School are!