Archive for November, 2009

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Extremely hard to say goodbye to Fiji

Helen in the village

Less than twelve hours left in Fiji and it’s going to be extremely hard to say goodbye.  Since leaving the village we’ve had a fantastic two weeks together taking TP on tour around the islands and taking the Naicabecabe party spirit with us.  Throughout the morning we’ve been waving off those continuing on their travels and it’s now slowly hitting home that this is the end of our three months together.

Last night we had our awards ceremony and celebrated the trials, tribulations and hilarious moments we’ve each endured.  It seems like only yesterday we stepped off the plane at Nadi airport but it still amazes me how much we’ve achieved together.  The time we shared in the village is truly unforgettable and the fact that we continue to constantly reminisce about the families and friends we’ve left behind there is testament to how much they meant to us. 

I have had the time of my life out here.  Living in Naicabecabe has taught me so much about what it really is to care for others, to share unconditionally with those around you and to say sega na lega to whatever comes your way. 

I miss the village and my Fijian family immensely. I guarantee I’ll be back, but for now it’s sototale (see you again).

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Chris; skydiving, zip lining, white water rafting and saying a sad goodbye to Fiji

sky dive - chris coriniti 2  sky dive - chris coriniti

Today has been the second day of emotional goodbyes. Right now there are only ten of us left; the other six have parted ways. I just spent the last of my Fijian money on a steak that was overcooked but since today is the last day I decided to let it go.

About a week ago I picked up a flyer for skydiving and since it is something I have wanted to do my whole life, I knew I was going to do it. I asked everybody else if they wanted to join me and to my surprise, eight others did. We jumped out of a perfectly good plane strapped to someone we only just met at the insane height of 14,000 feet up in the sky. One of the best parts was watching Joe go first; as soon as he jumped out I looked over the edge of the plane and he just disappeared. It was my turn to jump but I didn’t really have a choice, the man with me just pushed me out of the plane. Either way, it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done and it’s something I can say I’ve done. In the past ten days I have gone on a zipline, jet-skied, white water rafted, and skydived. I have paid dearly for it but you only live once and I have no regrets.

Yesterday in the debrief it really hit home that we were actually leaving Fiji. It was very emotional to leave Naicabecabe and now we’re leaving the country. The day we left the village just about everyone cried, even the biggest toughest Fijians. The relationship I had with the village and everyone in it was the highlight of my trip. Some of the villagers gave us things to remember them which was amazing, I got a necklace from one of the girls Helen and she has the same thing just in a bracelet. I was so touched when she gave it to me, Im going to have it for the rest of my life and it is full of so many memories. When someone says, “Chris where did you get that necklace?”  I’ll begin a long and amazing story of how I got it. She put it around my neck the day before we left and I don’t plan on taking it off. Even for airport security.  I gave one of my really good friends the shoes that I bought because he always commented on how much he liked them. I think I should have given him something else because now I have no sneakers (“trainers” for everyone in England) but I’m sure he will appreciate them and I can just buy a new pair when I get home. The goodbye in Naicabecabe was not just a goodbye to friends, it was a goodbye to family. The families we have stayed with have been so caring; they have treated us like their own children.  The village was one big family and I am so privileged to have been a part of it. Naicabecabe is a second home for me and I will most definitely be coming back.

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Oli McMann recaps on his last three months in Fiji

fun day 11


My time in Fiji is about to come to an end and I can honestly say that I’ve had an incredible three months.  The experience truly has been life changing.  Living in the heart of a small Fijian village is a very unique opportunity and it’s difficult to try and express exactly how it feels to be so involved with such a special community.  The people of Naicabecabe welcomed us into their village with open arms and the level of hospitality we received allowed us to settle into village life very quickly.  My Fijian family were absolutely amazing, giving up their beds and making every effort to make me feel at home.  I was living with the village Ratu and his wife, as well as his son and daughter in law.  Chris and Jack, our building manager, were also staying in the same house as me and they made my time in the village even more special.  The care and love shown by my family is something I will never forget.  They would always go out of their way to ensure I was happy and comfortable, including staying up at night to chase rats away from where we were sleeping.  Every day we were given good meals and always offered authentic Fijian food.  For me, as a very fussy eater, the food was always going to be a challenge.  For the first few weeks I did struggle with the food, especially the traditional Fijian root crops which would be served with every meal.  However, I soon found myself being more open to try new foods and after two or three weeks I was wolfing down whatever was put in front of me.  I have even been able to add a couple more meals to my list of foods I like, which I’m sure will make my Mum very happy.

It wasn’t just my family that made my stay in Naicabecabe so incredible.  Every single person in the village would always be there for all the volunteers, even those families with nobody staying with them would invite somebody in to eat with them.  Most of the interaction with the villagers came during the building project.  The banter with the Fijian men helped to ease the tension and allowed special friendships to be formed.  The evening times were also spent socialising, especially when drinking kava.  Drinking kava is certainly something I will never forget but I don’t think I will be craving it any time soon.  It really does taste as bad as I had been warned but the atmosphere created when a kava session takes place makes it strangely addictive.  Kava sessions were a time for telling stories and for dancing.  The Fijian women were relentless with their dancing but, even though there would be moaning there was too much everybody always had a really good time.

It was almost impossible to not be having a good time whilst in the village and if it looked like you weren’t you could always rely on one of the children to come and cheer you up.  The children in the village were amazing.  The kindi kids were always running around playing somewhere in the village and every time they spotted me they would run over and use me as a climbing frame.  They would also tell me who in the village they thought had “komo roto” (head lice), volunteers included.  Telling people they had “komo roto” soon became one of the running jokes in the village.  Setting up the kindi has had an incredible effect on the village children.  The volunteers who set up the kindi in the first few weeks did such a good job that the children would turn up early every morning they were so keen.  We were told stories by the adults that some of the children used to be loners who would sit at home playing with toys, so it was amazing to witness them becoming friends to the point that it would be rare not see a group of kids causing some kind of mischief somewhere in the village.  For me personally I was amazed by the transformation of one little boy in particular, Junior.  The day we arrived the village most of the children would not leave us alone but one little boy always sat away crying and would run away if I tried to walk over to him.  Unfortunately he could not be persuaded to attend kindi but in time his confidence grew and he began to join in playing with the other children after kindi had finished.  It wasn’t long before Junior was one of those children using me as a climbing frame and he became the one most likely to try and engage me in conversation, even though we couldn’t understand each other.  I will never forget the day I heard say my name for the first time when he came running towards me.  In setting up a kindi and being there for children of Naicabecabe I truly believe we have changed their lives forever and they will grow up to become incredible people.

The school children living in Naicabecabe were also very special people.  All of them could speak extremely good English so it was very easy to form bonds with them.  There were no children living in my house so my time with them was limited to when I saw them around the village or if I went to visit another house.  However, this did not stop them from wanting to get to know me as well as they had gotten to know the volunteers living with them.  They loved to hear stories from home and about my family and equally loved to tell stories about their own lives.  Unfortunately I was not able to spend any time teaching in the school but I was still able to see that the children were very intelligent and had a great willingness to want to learn.

The building projects we completed in Naicabecabe will have a massive effect on the lives of all the villagers.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the build and I am very proud of the end results.  The bridge and footpath mean there is now no issue walking to the next village during high tide and the transformation of the old church into a community hall means the villagers now have a communal place that can be used for so many worthwhile activities.

The day we left Naicabecabe was incredibly emotion and was testament to the bonds that had been formed.  I found it extremely difficult to say goodbye to the villagers, particularly my Fijian dad who had been so good to me over the last ten weeks.  Just before we left he sat Chris and me down and told us that he loves us like sons and how grateful he was for what we had done for him and his village.  I will never forget anybody from the village and my parting image of the whole village standing in the sea waving us goodbye will stay fresh in my mind for a long time to come.

This expedition would not have been what it was had it not been for the fifteen volunteers I shared it with.  I have made friendships for life and saying goodbye at the airport is not going to be easy.  What we achieved as a group was very special and I am very proud to have been a part of it and to have shared the last three months of my life with such amazing people.

The leaders on this expedition, Harry, Tim and Ben have also been incredible.  Their support and guidance throughout the trip ensured that I got the best Fiji experience possible.  I spent five nights in hospital with a nasty foot infection and I will be forever grateful what they did for me during that time.

What I have experienced during my time in Fiji has changed my life and I am never going to forget it.  There is no doubt that one day I will return.

Ollie M

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

An epic three months in Fiji



It only seems like yesterday that I was getting ready for my Fiji experience and now I am here sitting by a pool writing my last blog entry.  The last three months have been epic and I have made some life long friends in the team as well as  in the villiage. 

My Fijian family especially made my experience, Leba my mum made me feel welcome the moment I arrived, after we had a little dance I knew there would be lots of laughs to come. I will miss her incredible laugh and great sense of humour along with her ability to make great food, I especially loved breakfast, I am still craving pancakes and her porridge. The house would also not have been the same without Cat, she had me in stitches with her impressions of x factor, her morning wake up calls and patience with my untidiness.  My favourite part of the project was coaching netball along with Alice, the girls did incredibly well at the old capital festival and even though we did not win  the day itself was a emotional roller coaster with both Alice and I crying and laughing through the day. Even though coaching was my favourite part I loved the building side of the project too. I loved the relationship we had with the Fijians and we become a well oiled team by the end. I will however never go on a roof of a building again, that was a scary experience.

Fiji will always have a special place in my heart and I will be visiting some time in the near future. I have learned allot about Fiji but also myself, this experience has been awesome and I will not forget it anytime soon.

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

TP sky diving from 14,000 feet!

Thursday 26th November –

At breakfast this morning there were some rather nervous faces as the moment of truth approaches…the sky dives are just a few hours away. Whilst not a part of our own expedition, there was some fantastic “tp” spirit as Maria, Joe, Oli Gray and Holly painted “T” and “P” on either hand to flash as they jumped out, and lots were sitting in the sun to watch each pair arrive from the heavens. With 9 jumping it was down to one to go solo, and Oli Gray stepped up, so he was first to load into the van. Ultimately it turned out that he was jumping with another guy, and he was absolutely buzzing as he landed on the lawn next to mama’s, although he did mention that the harness was rather tight in certain areas!:) Chris and Joe were the next to go before Maria and Scotty took the leap of faith…and that was after the instructors had enjoyed some teasing of how loose Maria’s harness was…it wouldn’t be as fun if they made you too comfortable after all! Holly and Alice were next out the door, and we could hear Holly laughing from 5000 feet in the air, it really is an unbelievable experience. And finally it was Oli Mcmann and Cat, with Cat’s nerves building with every dot she saw falling from the sky through the day, but I am very happy to say that they arrived safe and sound, smiling from ear to ear. As far as adrenalin rushes go, sky dives are pretty high up there!

In the evening we had been invited down to Tarika’s for dinner, a lady from Naicabecabe who now lives in Nadi and who met the team during ‘Naicabecabe day’ at the start of October. As ever they were so welcoming and had put on an absolute feast of curry for the team, and stories very quickly drifted back to the village and our family and friends back there. One very special guy had made the journey across from the village, with Biss, our Mata ni Vanua, popping up to see everyone..he is very “tp”! And with more and more people arriving for the grog party the guitars were out and everyone was up on their feet dancing, a small taste of the village back on the mainland!

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Isa, the end of the September 2009 Fiji Expedition

Think Pacific September 2009 Team  Leaders Tim, Bis and Harry

Friday 27th November –

Today was a hugely fun one and sad one, as the realisation of just one more night set in. The team spent the morning relaxing by the pool and popping into Nadi town for some last minute souvenir shopping, and after a lunch together we sat down for the expedition de-brief. After such an incredible 12 weeks together it was a perfect opportunity to look back on so much achieved and so many happy memories, but more importantly my chance to ask the team how we can make the experience even better, and it will always be a massively valuable process as the team are the ones who have lived it. It is also a chance for me to say a massive vinaka vaka levu to the team for sharing so much in a small village in Moturiki, and for being such strong ambassadors for Think Pacific.

In the evening it was time for the much anticipated September 09 Expedition Awards, a mixture of serious and jokey ones from our time together. The awards were:

Leap of Faith Award – Fiona Corbett = the first to sign on and an unsung hero throughout.
Abi Heath Award – Oli Mcmann = after an infection that nearly cost him his foot!
Chris Coroniti Award – Chris Coroniti = for his selflessness and courage during the Rukuruku trek, where he put the team interests before his own.
Kaiviti Award – Adam Burt = a man who sunk into village life and never looked back.
Son of Man Award – Scott Hooker = for his striking resemblance to a certain biblical figure.
Coach Carter Award – Emily Vibert & Alice Hawkes = for their incredible work with the Moturiki District School Netball teams.
Michael Angelo Award – Oli Gray = for his labour of love in painting a small patch of the community hall wall over a 5 hour period.
Kindergarten Cop Award – Rachel McCartney = for her work in the village kindergarten
Rory Bremner Award – Cat Ewing = for her hilarious impressions, particularly the X factor judges.
The Grog-lin Award – Holly Stillwell = for her ability to outlast almost all the Fijians at a grog party, and for taking a smile and laughter wherever she found herself drinking.
The Robert Carlyle – Laura Burnett = for being a tough Scottish lassy who was so strong throughout.
The Ned Schniebling Award – Maria De Freitas = for her fantastic work in the classroom in inspiring the kids.
The Mary Antoinette Award – Danielle Dilley = for her passion for cake. (“Let them eat cake”)
The Joey Tribiani Award – Joe Janney = what can I say….:)
The Anna Nicole Smith Award – Helen Douglas = for her services to old people.

Naturally I was also very keen and happy to have the moment to thank Tim and Benjy for their incredible efforts over the 12 weeks, supporting and guiding the team and keeping everyone smiling and laughing, we couldn’t do it without them!

After a few bowls of grog the team enjoyed some drinks on the beach, we just cannot believe how fast the time has gone!

Saturday 28th November –

With Adam, Alice and Maria setting off for Aussie land, and Scotty on his way to New Zealand, there were some early morning goodbyes, and naturally there were tears and hugs all round. Emily and Oli Gray have a couple of weeks travelling around Fiji, and later in the morning they were also away as they jumped on the outboard to head out to Mana Island in the Yasawas. After packing up their bags the rest of the team headed down to Denarau Harbour for a spot of lunch, and the afternoon was spent telling stories and remembering the good times. The airport was very tough in saying goodbye as the team made their way through departures, and with Oli Mcmann flying out tomorrow morning we made our way back to Mamas. Isa September 09 team, sotatale!  (see you again!)