Monday 24th May –
After a relaxed morning enjoying some sunshine on the beach and playing some volleyball, the team packed up their kit and got ready to head across to Niubasaga, our project village for the May 2010 expedition. As ever we went dressed to impress, with the guys in sulus and bula shirts and the ladies in skirts, shirts and dresses. Arriving into the village we were once again greeted by smiling faces, and the team enjoyed some tea in the community hall as it is still tabu for drinking grog, before once again meeting their new families and making their way to their new homes. After a little time to unpack and settle in the team were quickly out and about, with volleyball kicking off quickly with the village guys and kids everywhere wanting to play games, tell stories and run around like crazy, it felt great to be in the village!
After dinner the team attended church as a welcoming service into the community, with the youth singing “I Know the Lord”, the Vakatawa preaching on the prophesy given for Moses, and some fantastic hymns being sung. Faith and religion plays a central role in Fijian life, and it is something that is therefore very special to become a part of during the project weeks ahead.
Tuesday 25th May –
This morning was our first team briefing, as we went through the plans for the build before mapping out the rest of the day. Meeting back at 9am we set off across the island to the Moturiki District School and kindergarten, where our teaching and kindi placements shall be based, to meet the teachers, see the classrooms and of course meet the crazy kids! The walk in itself proved to be a mini expedition, with the road a little wet causing people to slip and slide their way along! Whilst in the school we also had the chance to chat through the sports programme, and with Cassie looking to introduce kickboxing Master Mika, the headmaster, was very excited!
The afternoon was a relaxed one, with the team spending some time with different families as Tim and Benjy, our expedition leaders, pulled them aside for their “ppp’s”. (personal project planning) There was of course some volleyball being played, and a mini game of touch rugby also kicked off. At the de-brief we came together to prep for the start of the projects tomorrow, and the huge amount of interest in the school and kindi placements was fantastic to see. With two rotas there was the chance to give everyone the opportunity to be involved, and heading into school for the first week were Lucy Lomax into class 3, Poppy into class 4, Becky G into class 5, Lucy Price into class 6 and Nathan into class 8. Sophie, Anna, Georgia and Cassa were also ready and waiting for the little angels in kindi, with ideas for arts and crafts and the play area already floating around. Whilst the build can often steal the glory of the project, the school and kindi are a massive part of the holistic development that the Ministry of Health and Lomaiviti Council are keen for us to implement, and the children really do make it such an incredibly worthwhile experience.
Tuesday night is also “Movie Night on the project, and after some discussion, with Bad Boys 2 and 300 being thrown out there, it was Taken which won the day…it is certainly a crowd pleaser!
Wednesday 26th May –
This morning the project work began, with Benjy taking the school and kindi team across and Tim ready to rumble on the build. On the build the foundations are the name of the game, and with the build site being covered by a dead tree the first job was for that to be cut up by the chainsaw and the pieces removed. Another boulder then had to be cut away and rolled, and finally we were set to make the profile. The team then confirmed the measurements, with some class 8 maths being needed, squared the corners and put up the string as the marker for the ground as level. With the profile completed the team then began to dig around the perimeter for the blocks, and by lunch we were there, with just some flattening out when we got back. Others also measured and cut the rods to be put in the foundations, and it was then time to start mixing the concrete for the first layer of blocks. With no cement mixers in sight it can take some hard graft as you load the sand and gravel into the barrel, with the water and cement inside, keep it turning and then pour it on, and it was a fantastic team effort by all those on the build to help each other and get the job done well. As we finished for the day a layer of cement had been completed around 2 sides, and with Jack and Luke continuing until 3 oclock we arrived back in the afternoon to see two layers of blocks had been completed ready for us to do the third tomorrow.
In kindi the team were very quick to settle into the routine and start to throw ideas out there to encourage the kids, both in the group work that they do but also during outdoor play time. They also chatted to Benjy about their ideas for making the play area even bigger and better, with a slide for the kids, it is a fun few days ahead!
In school they were also enjoying the challenge of teaching in what is a very different setting to the classrooms back at home, but whilst resources may be more limited the kids have an enthusiasm and excitement to learn that the volunteers can really feed off. And of course in the afternoon it was time for sports coaching to begin, and that is always a fun part of project life. With the team having a huge amount of sporting interest we have seven sports up and running as: Rugby – James + Joe, Netball – Lucy + Lucy, Football – Graham + Ronan, Rounders –Poppy, Georgia, Becky G, Greg and Anna, Hockey – Nathan + Becky S, Badminton – Jason + Jamie, Kickboxing – Cassie + Sophie. There is also interest in beginning swimming classes for classes 1 and 2 which is great, and with house sports on Friday afternoon there are games for the coaches to be working towards.
After sports the guys from the villages were out for a big game of touch, with Ronan, Jamie, James, Graham, Jason, Benjy, Tim and myself also joining in and showing some kaivalagi magic! It was then back across to Niubasaga for the de-brief, and after talking through an excellent start to the projects we looked to finalise the committees, including “Fancy Dress”, “Kindi Fundraiser” and “Fun Day”. With the team expressing their interests the committees are: Fancy Dress – James, Jason, Cassie, Anna and Greg; Kindi Fundraiser – Becky, Becky, Joe, Georgia and Sophie; Fun Day – Lucy, Lucy, Poppy, Jamie, Ronan, Nathan and Graham. The fancy dress committee will need to be quick choosing their theme, as the big event is all set for this Saturday night!
And of course Wednesday night is “Quiz Night”, with last weeks winning team of Nathan, Becky S, Graham and Anna writing the brain teasers. There was a range of topics to say the least, including Pokemon, Neighbours and the Periodic Table, and in a low scoring contest it was the leaders (named “I like to eat worms” after Tim’s exploits on the build….)who won the day!
Thursday 27th May –
On the build this morning the team were quick to crack on with mixing the cement to cover the second layer of blocks so that the third and final layer could be set. The team then had to dig, shovel and carry mud, coral and sand to fill in the centre of the foundations to near ground level, and once again it was a huge team effort with Ronan and Jason running around with wheel barrows, Becky, Greg and James shovelling to flatten it and Benjy, Jamie, Graham and Joe doing some hard digging. By the end of the day the rods had been laid and all that is now left for the foundations is the concreting tomorrow.
In kindi it was another action packed day for the team, starting with the name game before teaching colours and basic numbers with lego pieces. In arts and crafts there was some celebrity fun, as the children cut out famous faces and then cut out or drew clothes for their bodies and stuck them all onto card. There were some big names on show, with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie having a makeover! They also introduced “finger flick” painting which the kids loved, its fair to say there are some artists amongst them in an abstract kind of way!
In school the volunteers continued to find their feet in the classroom, and found themselves enjoying the opportunity to teach when it came up. In the after noon Tim and Lucy Lomax were also lucky enough to enjoy a Fijian lesson with classes 7 & 8, learning a few key pharses along the way! And sports coaching was once again in full swing, with Graham and Ronan having some dribbling races with class 3 & 4 in football, some big hits in class 7 & 8 rugby, and a hilarious game of rounders with classes 1 & 2, with no one really knowing where to run and when!
This evening, back in the village, there was a “games night” for the team and village, with card games, pick up sticks, snakes and ladders and “Down in the jungle” keeping us entertained.
Friday 28th May –
With everything set this morning the team mixed and laid the cement for the flooring and final layer of blocks, and by lunch the job was done. It will now be left to dry over the weekend before we begin to construct the frame on Monday.
There was more fun and games in kindi this morning. After morning worship for the kids and learning their colours the team sat everyone in a circle to sing songs, with old favourites “Ba ba black sheep” and “Old Macdonald” popping up. Each person then had to go into the centre of the circle and make animal noises for everyone else to guess…Georgia’s impression on a god was most excellent! And with “Monsters” being chosen as the theme for the fancy dress party tomorrow night, during arts and crafts the kids were busy making masks and claws to hang around the community hall for the big event!
In school Becky was overseeing a maths test for class 5, whilst Lucy P was also helping with maths in class 6. In class 4 Poppy was helping the children with their story books, whilst in class 3 Lucy L helped with English comprehension. In sports this afternoon it was game time, with matches all over the place and the team getting themselves fully involved. And with sports coaching finished and the kids heading home, the team came together for a big game of rounders, splitting into ppp groups. It was an epic encounter, with catches off trees, some almighty hits and some cheeky run outs, and with Benjy’s team in the field and leading 14 ½ to 13 with just two bats left for Tim’s team the ball was launched high and long….and as Nathan tried to throw it back it was lost in the undergrowth. With the search party having no luck the two captains shook hands on a very good draw, and the teams are ready to battle it out once again next Friday afternoon!
This evening saw the end of tabu on grog, and so the team and village made their way to the community hall to enjoy a few bowls, tell stories and of course “hop hop”, and with grog set for tomorrow night I imagine there will be a party spirit in the hall for the fancy dress party!