Archive for January, 2010

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Gap year photos of the week

Here’s a few of our favourite shots from this week;

week 2 (33)  week 2 (32)

week 2 (31)  week 2 (30)

week 2 - kindi prep. (9)  chris & kid (1)  Hockey coaching

more week 2 (8)  more week 2 (5)

week 3 - sports coaching (1)  week 3 (38)

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Gap Year Diary – The end of week 3 in Nasauvuki

Monday 25th January -

In school Steve, Tom, Hannah and Lal had a meeting with the teachers this morning to discuss their roles in assisting the teachers, but also to map out the plans for the term and talk through ideas and initiatives. And in the afternoon they lent a hand in setting up the desks and chairs ready for the fun to begin tomorrow!

In the afternoon the team had the rounders bat and ball out for a whack on the field, whilst training continued with the guys ready for the 7s tournament in Levuka in a months time. And in the evening it was Paskey, Becky, Chris and Michelle who headed out to the reef to go spear fishing with Solo, John and Solo, and there was a huge amount of nervous excitement as they drifted into the unknown! They all came back with tales of the fish that got away, but the experience was a very fun one nonetheless!

week 3

Tuesday 26th January –

Today was once again a busy day on the build. With the purlins being set across the rafters on the roof the team were able to begin strapping the rafters ready for the roofing irons to be put on tomorrow, which meant there were pods up high strapping and a pod below measuring and cutting the strapping pieces to size. The roofing irons themselves also needed to be measured and cut to size, and with 35 irons it was a great effort in the rather un-glamorous side of the construction! There were also more studs to be measured, cut and nailed in along the end walls ready for window and door frames, whilst the Fijian guys nailed the collar tie timbers in place to add strength to the structure. Everyone is looking forward to beginning the roofing tomorrow!

In the kindi “animal week” continued in full swing and with a good routine. The numbers counting in the morning showed just how quickly the kids are learning, and the team have devised great little games to help them such as the “corner game”, where they have to run to the person holding the number shouted, and singing their numbers whilst drawing the number in the air. They then sang their animal nursery rhymes Old Macdonald, 3 Blind Mice and Ba ba black sheep before break time. After break they had “drama”, where they had to imitate the different animals, and then headed outside into the sunshine for games time, with Duck Duck Goose proving a favourite. And of course before home time there was Sleeping Lions and Story time, it is a busy morning in the Nasauvuki Kindi!

Today was also the first day of school, and so after introducing themselves at morning assembly Tom, Steve, Hannah and Lal headed into the classroom to assist with their classes. With the school still awaiting the two new teachers the team were in at the deep end, taking some English and Maths classes and finding their feet very quickly! Steve was taking class 3, Tom was taking class 5, Hannah class 2 and Lal class 8. I’m sure as the days go by they will really grow in confidence and relax into life on the other side of the desk!

In the afternoon the team were out having a run around as school sports starts tomorrow afternoon, and for Rob, Tom and Will it was the first day of squad training as the countdown to the 7s tournament in Levuka next month begins! At the de-brief the first sports rota for the school was set, with Rugby and Netball consistent throughout and Football, Rounders and Cricket decided as the alternative sports for the first two week rota with Paskey coaching hockey throughout, the team and the kids cannot wait to get started.

During Tabu Tuesday evening is “film night”, and once again the choice went to a hotly contested vote, with Taken eventually being selected by a majority of one! Film night is proving a hit, in the village it is a special treat!

week 2 (14)

Wednesday 27th January –

Today was another big day on the build, as the roofing irons went on with the Fijian guys tacking them ready for our team to go up and nail them in tomorrow. Whilst the roof was being put in place the team looked to measure, cut and nail the window frames around the entire structure, and with lots of banter on the site it proved to be one of those days where things didn’t quite swing our way with some minor altercations being made but hey, we have our chance to get it set tomorrow!:)

In the kindi they were practising their numbers as usual, and then sang nursery rhymes before the fun of drama began. The team had them acting out fairy tales after break, and then in arts and crafts they were painting fish and decorating them with sticky paper, some even made it onto the build!

In school the team continued assisting in the classrooms, and it was a big day as sports coaching began in the afternoon. With so many skills amongst the group there was rugby, netball, cricket, football, rounders and hockey all in full swing, with Paskey and Immi doing a fantastic job in introducing hockey for the first time to the kids! The sports coaching is a highlight of any day on the project and we are all very excited for the weeks ahead.

In the evening it was the weekly quiz night, and the nervous excitement was tangible as we gathered for the big event. With questions ranging from the british lions tour to gossip girl it had people scrambling for the all important points, and the eventual winner (once again) were “Team Gavlar”, who celebrated with their pack of Oreos! With the roof being fixed, a special occassion for the community, the villagers were given permission to lift the grog tabu for an evening, and so the guitars were out, the powder was on faces and there was some dancing to be done!

week 3 - sports coaching

Thursday 29th January –

With the roofing irons in place this morning Will, Becky, Rob and Sam headed up to nail them into place, and it was not an easy job with the Fiji sunshine still well and truly shining! By the afternoon the job was complete, with Michelle also climbing up to help out. The Fijian guys also nailed on the ridge cap so that we are ready to put the flashings tomorrow. Meanwhile the rest of the build team looked to complete the window frames, and they split into pods, with some measuring, some cutting the timbers to size and others nailing them into place, and with Jack also putting the door frames in place the hall is really starting to come along.

In the kindi today it was the much anticipated “treasure hunt”, and after completing their numbers they were out and about on the sports field searching for tennis balls, flip flops, cards and lots more.

In school the team are really growing in confidence, with Lal busy teaching class 7 about faily relations and Hannah and Steve having class 5 writing letters all about their homes in the village. And sports was as hectic as ever, with Tom and Rob’s kids going head to head in a catching and throwing game, it was a clash of the titans!

In the evening the ladies of the village had very kindly agreed to teach the team how to weave the mats and fans, and they proved to be naturals with Ashleigh Dexter making a little mat in just one evening. It’s the little parts of village life that make all the difference to the experience on any project and they are great skills for the team to learn.

week 3 - mat weaving (3)  week 3 - mat weaving (4)

Friday 30th January –

On the build this morning the team completed the window frames on the wall facing the sea, whilst Will, Sam and Cat headed onto the roof with Solo to hammer the flashings into place. Jack then threw down another mini challenge of putting the first pieces of walling along the bottom of each side so that we were ready to crack on on Monday, and so after marking the level for the walling timbers, and putting fishing wire across to confirm, Will and Gavlar nailed the first pieces of walling on three sides.

In kindi the team continued with their numbers and nursery rymes, however more significantly it was also the kindi “sports day”! The kids competed in all sorts of races including the three legged race, the wheel barrow race and a “stone and spoon race”…eggs are in short supply! The kids absolutely loved it, and so did our kindi team who handed over to Fi, Cat, Becky and Immi who will be starting next week.

In school today Hannah introduced the idea of pen friends to class 5. Her father had kindly arranged for all the children at Rolans Gill primary school, where he is a teacher, to write a letter so that they could start friendships with people from a village very far away. It is a fantastic idea and I am sure that the kids both back in England and here at the Moturiki District School, will gain so much from the pen pal scheme.

After lunch the health and environment committees had a brief chat with the expedition leaders to discuss initial thoughts and ideas for the up coming health and environment weeks. Areas they will be looking to cover include waste management, composting, keeping the sea and beach clean and the protection of animals and wildlife. We will also look to move the recycling station from the village to the school so that the kids can learn recycling practices and maintain them. In health the team will be revising the 1st aid introduced with classes 5,6, 7 and 8 during the recent Think Pacific September project. They will also be looking to focus on the negative affects of smoking and grog drinking, healthy eating and diet habits, dental hygiene and sexually transmitted diseases. Our volunteers are viewed as absolute role models by the Fijian children, so taking the time pass such basic but important messages is so important.

In sports today, it was “house sports”, and so for an afternoon the coaching is put into practice with games and matches all over the field! And the rugby and netball training with the village continued as usual, with contact rugby sessions starting tomorrow for the guys.

In the evening it was once again time for “games night”, and whilst the team kept the “crowd” entertained playing Articulate and Sherades, the village guys were once again quick to dress up and put on a “show” that kept everyone laughing. There is now talk of a “Fiji’s Got Talent” night amongst the team which would be hilarious!

week 3 - kindi (2)

Saturday 31st January –

Early this morning the team once again loaded into the outboards for a trip into Levuka, a chance to email home and grab a smoothie after another big week. We were back in the village by 2.30pm so that the guys could join a big training session with the rugby team, and then a welcome rest for tea and freshly baked bread.  This afternoon there will be a big team meeting, as the teaching, youth projects and sports coaching start to get serious.

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The community hall in Nasauvuki really starts to takes shape

week 3 (31)

Well done january TP team!  With some impressive work on the project this week, the community hall is really taking shape! It’s amazing to see how far the building has come, from just the foundations three weeks ago to a proper structure now. We look forward to seeing the finished hall in just a few more weeks time.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Will Jackson’s Fiji highlights so far..

Will Jackson Rob (L) and Will at home in Fiji

Wow, so much has happened already during our time in Nasauvuki it’s hard to believe we’ve only been in the village little over a week. Let’s start with the people though – undoubtedly the friendliest and most jovial people that I’ve ever met. You can’t pass them without getting a ‘bula’, a playful poke or a request for at least 20 ‘high fives’ from the kids! I think our Dad, Matiu summed it up at a recent grog session when he said that ‘most of us don’t have a cent in our pocket, but as long as we have food on the table we don’t worry about anything’. Our family are great, especially Matiu (the sptting image of Mario) – his laugh is infectious and his sons Aleki, 22, John, 27, and Phillip, 14 are all really nice guys. I think the various children that come into our house are all quite scared of me though – perhaps something to do with the slightly sunburnt face!

Highlights of my time in the village so far include the two massive water fights (cue many quotes from Gladiator and 300) and Rob, Tom, Chris and I’s first heavy Grog session on Sunday night. At 12 o’clock the ban on kava (Timbu) started, so between 7.45 and midnight we crammed in as much as we could – a decision we regretted when faced with some heavy lifting the next morning! The kava ban (every 2 weeks, for two weeks) is a shame as it’s a great way to get to know the villagers, but it does provide some welcome respite from the endless dancing – Fijian women love their ‘meke’. However, it does mean that you can pull out all the cheesy moves with no shame at all!

The build itself feels like its racing along, led by our funny but scarily strong manager, Jack. We’ve had some pretty amusing attempts at hammering (not mentioning any names, Hannah) and the Fijian boys have been showing up our lack of DIY skills, but I’ve found that if you say ‘Set’ (done) at regular intervals you manage to look like you know what you’re doing! Still, it’s been really enjoyable so far and it will be nice to have something tangible to show for our efforts in Nasauvuki at the end of our 10 weeks here.

School starts next week and it will be great to finally get involved in some teaching and sports coaching. In the meantime my afternoons have been dominated by trying to get to grips with the Fijian style of rugby – one touch touch, and they’re all ridiculously quick! They’ve been talking about taking us to play in a 7s tournament in Levuka in February – a scary thought but something I’d love to do. The boys also proved that we’re better than the girls at every sport by routing them at netball (Paskey did not look happy). The team is fantastic, everyone’s getting along great and I still can’t get over how beautiful Fiji is. Oh and did I mention we saw dolphins? Yeah we saw dolphins, they jumped out of the water for is. This place just keeps getting better and better.

Love to the family,



Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Trek to the peak for a magnificent view of the Lomaiviti Islands

levuka peak

gap year trek to the peak of Ovalau, Lomaiviti Islands

Saturday 23 January -

This morning out gap team loaded into the outboards to head across to Levuka for the trek to the peak with Nox, and with the Fiji sun well and truly shining it was the perfect day for it, although we all knew it would be a sweaty climb! A few of the team were not feeling fully fit so stayed behind in town to send some emails and relax, whilst the majority set off up the hundreds of steps that lead you away from the old town and onto the track up the hill. Along the way there were plenty of water breaks and rest as the heat was unreal, and the team were very quick to support each other and offer encouragement to those struggling. Nox is also fantastic at keeping the pace a good one so that we move as one. The views at the top were incredible, looking right out across the Lomaiviti Province as far as Batiki, Gau and Nairai islands, and well worth the huge effort put in by everyone.  The way back down is always allot of fun, as you slide your way back to Levuka.

After lunch in town we headed back to the villages to throw a rugby ball around and relax. There is also talk amongst the team of baking cakes with their families over the weekend…banoffee pie would brighten up any Sabbath!

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Christmas presents for a tiny Fijian village!

jessie's xmas parcel (6)  jessie's xmas parcel (3)


It may seem a little late for Christmas presents, but after the journey this package has taken and the trials and tribulations since it first left the UK, we’re just so glad it finally made it to a tiny island in the South Pacific! 

This giant box, which has spent the past few months between planes, cargo ships, motor boats, Fijian government offices and post offices across the Pacific, is filled with gifts for the children and villagers of Daku, Moturiki. With big smiles all round, it was delivered to the village by Harry this weekend.  

The whole thing has been organised with lots of time, care and effort by one of our past volunteers, Jessie Kundi. Jessie joined TP for our 5-week expedition in July 09 and upon her return to the UK, she has been very busy fundraising and encourging her work mates to donate gifts, so she could provide the Fijian community she lived with over the summer with their first ever Christmas presents. With such low incomes on Moturiki island, gifts and luxuries such as books, sweets and toys, are such a rare thing. As the smiles and happy faces show, a tremendous job well done.  On behalf of the Think Pacific team and the villagers of Daku, vinaka vaka levu Jessie!


jessie's xmas parcel (1)  jessie's xmas parcel (2)

jessie's xmas parcel (14)  jessie's xmas parcel (13) 

jessie's xmas parcel (12)  jessie's xmas parcel (11)

jessie's xmas parcel (10)  jessie's xmas parcel (5)

jessie's xmas parcel (7)  jessie's xmas parcel (9)

Jessie during her July 09 TP volunteer project

Jessie during her 09 TP volunteer project