And then the final moments were upon us, as the team said their goodbyes before those flying out made their way to the airport, the end of an epic adventure that will stay long in the memory. The July 2010 team have been fantastic ambassadors for Think Pacific, and we are so grateful that they gave their time to support the communities of Moturiki, Vinaka vaka levu and sota tale, we look forward to seeing you back here at your Fijian home Savuna very very soon. Loloma, the Tp team.
Archive for August, 2010
Saturday 14th August –
Early this morning our gap year team were into the Rivers Fiji bus and heading up into the Namosi highlands for the Upper Navua river rafting. With clear blue skies it was a beautiful day to be on the water, and the canyons that you paddle through are stunning. As ever the lunch was a joy to behold as we stopped beside the waterfalls. Reaching the end the teams were all smiles, and we made our way back to the resort in Pacific Harbour for dinner and few drinks.
Sunday 15th August –
With today being a day off for the team there was a chance to relax and have some fun in the sun at the resort in Pacific Harbour. A few headed over to the Pearl Resort for a massage, whilst others took a walk to the local Arts village to buy some gifts. In the afternoon there was some swimming pool fun, attempted human pyramids, volleyball and lots of bridge jumping!
And in the evening, when the team were back from enjoying some cocktails at the Pearl, it was time for the final July 2010 “Quiz Night”, written and orchestrated by the team leaders. There was also, in keeping with July 10 quiz events, some fun and games….a Stars in their Eyes contest! The teams were asked to pick a pop group, dress accordingly and enter the stage to say a little about those they were there to impersonate with their best singing voices. We also guest appearances from a few who we had met at the resort, and I’m not sure they knew what they had got themselves in for when they joined us for a drink or two! They looked fantastic in costume, and when the singing began Pop Idol would have been hard pushed to pick a winner, with some funky dance moves adding to the event! However the job did fall to the leaders, with team “Effort” winning the battle of the voices!! The rest of the evening was spent with the team enjoying a few coctails and having a boogie before we head Nadi side tomorrow.
Monday 16th August –
This morning the team loaded onto the tp bus for one final road trip along the coral coast to Smugglers Cove in Nadi. Arriving on another beautiful afternoon there was some time relaxing in the sunshine on the beach. At 5pm we came together for the expedition de-brief, when the team offer very valuable feedback on the expedition, the projects completed and their experiences as a think pacific volunteer. Whilst we may be reflecting on an unbelievable 5 weeks, we are always very aware that we can always improve to make the expeditions that little bit better, and we are grateful for all the ideas raised by the team. It was then dinner time as we sat together in the bure by the beach, with stories told of times gone by. And after dinner it was time for the July 2010 “TP Awards”, with a chance to acknowledge memorable moments and characters from the journey past. The awards were:
Master Mika Award – Frankie = for her fantastic job in the classroom with class 5 which caused Master Simi to approach me to ask if she may stay on beyond her rota during project time as she had shown such a genuine interest and passion to support the children.
Picasso Award – Katie = for the incredible logo drawn to encapsulate the achievements of the team in Savuna village which meant so much to the volunteers and the community as a whole.
Fiji Time Award – Richard = for embracing this beautiful aspect of Fijian life and never being on time, but always arriving with a smile and a sense of reasoning, with his watch proving 20 minutes slow and a belief that the meeting was merely scheduled for half an hour later!
Robert Carlyle Award – Cat = for being a tough Scottish lassy and conquering all that TP could throw at her with a smile and sense of quiet determination. An absolute star on project who was a real asset to the team and community, and who also celebrated getting into Cambridge whilst with us in Fiji
Forest Gump Award – Kerrie = for a particular moment on project which left us all with smiles when, during a tp relay race, she lost her footing and stacked in, only to hear her expedition leader calling “run…keep running….”
Dirty Sanchez Award – Amy = for a very special moment on project when, for just $5 and a single oreo, she licked the community hall wall that had not seen a wash in more than 20 years!
Big Daddy Award – Sophie = for having the love of a child thrust upon her (little Mele) and for growing to love and cherish him as her own in a special bond!
Three Musketeers Award – Chris = for a special bond between himself, Fijian Tim and our Mata ni Vanua Esala, who lived together in the village and will miss each other very much. Where there was one there were the others!
Dr Doolittle Award – Lindsey = for her love of one little animal…”TP the Cat”….who was brought from Nasesara and lovingly raised by Lindsey, and who quickly became a team mascot for our July 2010 team!
Mr Kipling Award – Hannah = for her absolute love and devotion to cake during the project. It is fair to say that Mr Kipling himself would have been extremely proud of the cake that was enjoyed in “Cake House”.
Happy Gilmore Award – David = for always being on top form, keeping the team laughing and entertaining the kids and community with his fantastic sense of humour. And for one moment when Happy Gilmore was all he could think of!
Unsung Hero – Alex = for her huge courage and determination throughout the project, particularly when her Fijian mother passed away and when delivering a very moving personal testimony during the final church service in Savuna village.
As all of our past volunteers know, when the kava starts to flow and the island guitars begin playing, Fijians don’t half love to dance! (or ‘hop hop’ as it’s better known in the Lomaiviti communities).
Well, three girls from Durham decided to bring a little Fijian party of their own to the North East, as they held a fundraiser evening towards their Think Pacific project next year.
Annabelle, Zoe and Rebecca who all attend Durham Johnston School will be joining Think Pacific’s July 2011 volunteer expedition to Fiji. Their Fijian themed night helped to raise £300 towards their target, and proved so popular that they’ve had requests to host more.
With our July 2010 team at the end of their incredible 5 weeks in Fiji, it’s great to see our July 2011 expedition filling up so fast already.
We’re looking forward to seeing Annabelle, Zoe and Rebecca make their own impact in the South Pacific Islands next year as they join a unique team to teach, lead youth clubs and kindergarten classes, introduce sports and build vital local facilities in the poor and rural communities.
As well as volunteering and exploring the beautiful islands, beaches and rainforests, we are hoping, especially after all this practise, that the girls can show the Fijians how the ‘hop hop’ is done in Durham!
As I write I am in a very different type of paradise to what I have been for the past few weeks, sat on a beach overlooking the sea! The sun is shining, the music is playing and it’s the teams last day together before some depart for home, it’s unreal how quickly time has flown, I’m pretty sure none of us are ready to leave! Since my last blog we have left the village! sad times!
Leaving Savuna and leaving my new family was one of the hardest things I have done, I’m already certain I will be back in the near future! Over the weekend we went white water rafting which was so much fun and absolutely stunning!! We all turned into big kids (well….Tim and Harry) it was great! Over the past 5 weeks I have learnt so much and had so much fun I’m going to miss the village and all that inhabit it…..even TP the cat. I can honestly say this is the best thing I have ever done.
To give running water to a Fijian village who have struggled for years without it is an amazing accomplishment and to experience a Fijian funeral is one I will never forget! Although it was a very sad day it wasn’t a sad time as villagers from all over came to celebrate her life and feast and party.
Teaching the children in the classroom was one of my top highlights of the expedition it was great to see them so eager to learn and share my knowledge with them. Another of my highlights have been quiz nights. We have had so much fun, as each one became more theatrical, last night was stars in your eyes……and tonight Mathew we will be….the Spice girls! A very funny night! The whole trip has been filled with giggles and from the boys too!
Although I came to Fiji to help the village I feel that they have taught me so much more! I’m taking away so much more than a tan and a lot of mosquito bites! The way of life is so different here and is so relaxed I love Fiji time, anyone who knows me knows that I’m always late, therefore Fiji time is a perfect way of life for me its going to be hard getting back into the rat race back home! Overall it’s been a unique experience that I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to partake in! I’ve made some great friends in the team and some great friends in Fiji who I already can’t wait to see again!
To think that we had come to our last day in Savuna was truly unbelievable, and as the team spent the morning packing up their bags, the village guys prepared the lovo for the evening feast and pounded grog ready for the party to come. In the afternoon the team were into their formal dress as we came together to attend a final church service with the community, and after Esala, our Mata ni Vanua who has been incredible throughout, thanked the team with some very kind words, it was left to Richard, Alex and Amy to respond, and naturally it was a very emotional speech reflecting on the special times gone by.
After the church service had finished the team also stood before the community to sing Lean on Me, a poignant moment for everyone. After Church it was time for one last feast together in the community hall, and after receiving a very special gift of Savuna sulus the entire team wore them with pride in the community hall, and were once again blown away by the feast prepared. And then it was time for the grog party to begin, and with visitors from Nasesara and the band from Navuti all there, the tanoa was full, the guitars were playing and the team and village were up on their feet for the “hop hop”….it’s what village life is all about! As ever the grog continued until day break, with Hannah, David, Katie, Cat and Chris there to enjoy the sunrise. And then came the toughest part of expedition life as the team began to say their farewells to those who have been overwhelming in their love and kindness over the last few weeks. Savuna, like so many Fijian villages, is a very very special place, and as the village gathered to wave the team off I speak on behalf of everyone when I say we will miss them so so much.
Back on Caqalai, the tiny castaway island where the project began, the day was free for the team to relax and reflect on life in little Savuna. It’s now time to end the expedition in style as always, as we explore the rainforests and beaches of Viti Levu and a final fun packed few days in the Fijian sunshine..
Today is the last day in the village after 3 and a half weeks, and it’s pretty surreal. Last night we had our last dinner with our individual families – Sophie, Harry, Tim and I had a feast of whole fish, pork ribs, kasava and cold juice (luxury!). It hit me that this would be the last time we’d be eating with Jope, Rudy and Frances, who have been so lovely to us, always encouraging us to ‘kana,’ meaning eat, lots! After dinner we had a mini grog party at Kitty and Jim’s. Chris turned up with a garland around his neck, and in a sulu and cape that matched his two older brothers, Tim and Asala. Later on in the evening, in the hall, the whole team was given a rainbow of specially printed Savuna sulus, we drank yet more grog and had a wicked Hop Hop session – think Hawaiian hula meets Justin Timberlake. I left for bed pretty early as I’m saving myself for tonight’s antics!
Today I’m starting to think of all the things I’ll miss about village life; from yelling ‘bula’ to pretty much every Fijian you walk past (stranger or not), burning my tongue on boiling hot fresh lemon tea, team debrief meetings with Harry giving us the daily low down, and Fijian Tim serving me ‘low tides’ of kava because I’m not actually that partial to it.
I know it’s cliché but I will never forget the time that I’ve spent living with the people of Savuna, experiencing their traditions and their everyday way of life has been fantastic, they’ve treated us so well. Now, wish me luck for staying up as long as I possibly can at tonight’s final party!