Archive for October, 2010

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Gap Year Fancy Dress Party


week 2 - gap fancy dress

With it being Halloween, getting dressed up is the name of the game tonight!

Well, in Fiji, our gap year team recently had a little fancy dress party of their own!  The theme was chosen by our volunteers as anything beginning with T or P, which gave lots of room for creativity!  As our gap team gathered at the shed for the party, its was clear some great effort been made with the understandable limited fancy dress reources to be found on a remote Fijian island! Costumes included Thom and Alistair who arrived as “Twin Tin Men”, Millie as a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle”, Sarah and Naomi as “Presents” and Will as a “Tape Measure”. There were also some animals on show, with Tim arriving as a Tiger and Emma and Ellie as Piglets.

With tabu on the grog also lifted the tanoa was out and the team were able to enjoy a few bowls. And of course with the village guys having the guitars out it was not long before the “hop hop” was in full swing, with the Fijian women getting our gap year team to their feet, and in fancy dress, it makes dancing Fiji style that bit funnier.

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Gap year diary: A round up of week four on the TP gap projects!


week 4 - kindi (5)

Monday 18th October –

Back on the gap volunteer projects this morning, and with the sun shining bright, the build was a busy place. There was a team on the roof hammering in the roofing nails, with two pods also inside continuing with the flooring, a difficult job with the two direct posts to navigate! In the afternoon there were also teams working on the walling as we look for a big week on the community hall.

week 3 - build. (12)

In kindi the team practiced their numbers and animals, as well as colours during lego time. The kids were then outside for play time before heading down to the beach for arts and crafts where they collected shells to make a collage. After a sing along it was story time, as Rob out in a wonderful performance reading Cinderela!

In school Alistair and Leah continued with classes 5, 6, & 7, taking maths and English respectively, whilst Sarah took classes 3 & 4, including some Geography as they looked at capital cities around the world. Emma was also busy supporting Jesse in class 8. And in the afternoon sports coaching was in full swing, with classes 5 & 6 learning the long jump in athletics!

With the sports coaching for the children completed for the day, it was the turn of the village men’s and women’s teams, with rugby and netball training beginning in preparation for some island matches on Saturday!

In the evening our gap team were free to relax, with the health committee team finalising their lesson plans for tomorrow and the quizzers putting down their ideas. There was also a beach bonfire to sit around and tell stories late into the evening!

week 4 - school (4)

Tuesday 19th October –

Today on the build flooring and walling was once again the name of the game as the team continued with what is a very exact science, and after just a few days they received high praise from Jack, our building manager, which is high praise indeed!

In kindi we were happy to see lots of kids arrive, and after circle time it was back on with numbers and colours. For arts and crafts after break time the team once again took the kids to the beach, this time to make a big sand castle that could be decorated with shells collected. And it was Bryony who read Jack and the Beanstalk as the days story.

week 4 - school

In school the team continued with their classes. After lunch the health workshops began, with Richard and Bryony heading into classes 5 & 6 to discuss Smoking, Healthy Living and Diabetes, raising awareness on the affects of smoking, the importance of a balanced diet and exercise, and the causes, symptoms and treatment of Diabetes. Neill and Rose went into classes 7 & 8 to talk through Diabetes, smoking and STI’s and sexual health. With smoking a growing concern in Fijian youth it was a vital opportunity to talk through both the physical and financial implications of the habit. Diabetes also has stigma and ignorance attached to it in Fiji and Neill and Rose worked to clarify key elements, before separating the boys and girls between them to discuss safe sexual practice and the signs and symptoms of certain STI’s. The workshops were a huge success and the children were quick to engage and respond.

In sports coaching class 3 & 4 learnt the triple jump in athletics, whilst 5 & 6 were busy as they were introduced to hockey and JiJitsu! Class 7 & 8 boys were also showing real improvement during rugby training, using the skills being taught to them with inside runners, off loading in the tackle and running from depth.

After the school sports it was once again youth games, with training continuing in both rugby and netball. And at the afternoon de-brief it was the vote on movies, with it being a close run thing between Knight & Day and Pirates of the Caribbean, with Knight and Day winning by 2 votes! With Joseph rehearsals beginning for the school children tomorrow the team also sat to listen to the key songs so that we are ready to rock!

week 4 - kindi (2)

Wednesday 20th October –

On the building project this morning the team continued with the flooring, with both pods measuring, cutting and nailing the timbers. After lunch Jack asked for a push on the walling, and so one pod continued on the flooring whilst three looked to build up the outside walls towards the top plates.

In kindi it was once again a day of fun and games, with the lego pieces being given out to the kids who recognise the colours correctly to help their learning, and letters of the alphabet being introduced. In arts and crafts the kids were making necklaces with the shells they had collected from the beach, and they were able to paint their name onto the shells to take home to show their parents!

In school Alistair continued to revise Permieters in Maths, whilst also introduced synonyms in English with classes 5 & 6. Leah looked at health with class 7, and Emma helped Jessie in working through finite and infinite numbers in class 8 maths before taking them outside for arts and crafts.

week 4 - kindi (4)

It was also a big day on project I school today as, after lunch, classes 5, 6, 7 & 8 came together for a first rehearsal of the Jospeh musical! Thom, Richard and Millie, who are leading the production, chose Any Dream Will Do as the first song for the kids to learn, and after singing it through for them once we were all truly amazed at the incredible sound that the children were able to make. With three weeks to go we are all very hopeful of a fantastic evening when they sing a selection of Joseph songs for the village!

For sports coaching classes 5&6 were playing rugby and netball, whilst classes 3 & 4 learnt throwing and catching in cricket. Class 1 & 2 were also introduced to athletics, with 7 & 8 learning hockey and Jijitsu. Rugby and Netball training for the village teams continued after school sports ready for the matches on Saturday afternoon, with both teams are looking strong!

In the evening it was quiz time and the weekly battle of the brains. As ever there were some interesting rounds, including “nicknames” and “Doctor Who”, as well as a “guess the person” round as one from each team had 30 seconds to describe as many people or characters for the others in the team to guess. It is fair to say it was an evening full of banter, and with just one point separating two teams it was team “Ray-n in the titans” who won the oreos and the chance to write next weeks quiz.

week 4 - general.

Thursday 21st October –

With the sun shining the focus on the build was once again the walling, with three pods continuing on the outside whilst one continued with flooring. It proved a very productive day, with 7 rows of flooring going down and a big change on three of the walls. Jack also began making the doors, having completed the window sills, and the completed structure is now within sight!

week 4 - gap year build 7

In kindi the team were as busy as ever with numbers, colours and shapes, whilst also having the kids singing the Shakira classic waka waka! At story time Rob read “The Little Soldier” to end the day.

In school the team continued with their classes, with class 5 & 6 having a Maths test with Ali, and Leah looking to take her first science experiment. Emma also continued with their reading and spoken English in class 8. And sports coaching was once again in full swing in the afternoon, with classes 3 & 4 taking hockey and Jijitsu, classes 7 & 8 learning the long jump in athletics, classes 5 & 6 learning bowling in cricket and 1 & 2 having tackling practice in netball!

week 4 - kindi (3)

Friday 22nd October –

With some rain in the air this morning we continued with both build pods on the flooring inside, whilst Jack completed the final door. Next week the flooring and walling shall be completed, it is exciting times ahead!

With this being the last day of the two week rota it was one last kindi adventure for Hannah, Rob, Zoe and Bryony, who were not to be put off by the weather! With the kids really responding they have seen some fantastic results for the work they are doing, with Kassa, a 3 year old girls, writing her name and knowing the first 5 letters of the alphabet as an example! They had allot of fun in arts and crafts after break time, before Zoe read The Large Family at story time!

In school it was also the last day of classes for Ali, Leah and Emma, who was flying solo in class 8 with Jessie away, with Sarah sadly not making it in. Ali split classes 5 & 6 into three teams for a “countdown” style maths quiz, whilst Emma had each kid stand and tell their story to the class to practice for the test next week.

In the morning Leah was with Millie in classes 3 & 4 for the last of the health workshops. They looked at the causes, symptoms and preventions of Typhoid, with a word search for the kids to have fun with as they tried to find key symptoms. They also looked at healthy and unhealthy foods, introducing the Ministry of Health’s programme called “Bula 5:30”, encouraging everyone to have their 5 portions of fruit and vegetables and to do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, before finishing with Teeth, and how to maintain healthy teeth from a young age. The workshop was a success with the kids seeming to respond well and enjoy what they were being taught!

After lunch classes 5, 6, 7 & 8 came together for a second rehearsal of Joseph, with Jacob and Sons and Joseph’s Coat being sung by the kids who once again made a wall of sound that the team will struggle to compete with! As they continue to learn the songs, next`week Millie shall then look to put actions to the words to create a mini drama which is an entirely new concept for the kids to experience.

week 4 - sabbath service

With the rain falling sports coaching was cancelled in the afternoon, so the team came together for hymn practice, as this week the team shall be singing I Vow to Thee My Country during divine service on Sabbath. And after the practice it was birthday party time as we were invited to celebrate the 1st birthday of Marica, Leah and Namois’ sister in the village. The 1st birthday has big significance for the Fijian communities, and it was a quite a party, with pork, chicken, fish and lots more!

In the evening the team relaxed and played cards together as we look forward to the sports tomorrow and the weekend ahead.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Gap year stories: Millie’s blog


Millie gap year FijiBula! I can’t believe I am half way through my stay in Ulaibau Village; time has gone quickly and slowly at the same time. I had a rocky beginning in the village being sick in the first week and changing houses in the second but everything has definitely come together now.

In my family I have a mum, dad, older sister, younger brother and Ellie my American roomie.I think for me the family has been one of the best things about this experience. They are so kind and generous and find cards hysterical which makes it all the more fun for me.

The projects are going really well. I started in Kindi which was definitely jumping in at the deep end. I learnt quickly that a 3 year olds attention span is short, enthusiasm is high but retaining information is a long process. It’s hard to imagine not being able to count up to three. I loved Kindi but you have to think fast and be creative otherwise you will find yourself with kids everywhere.

Before I came out here I wasn’t sure whether the build was for me but I have really grown attached to it. I feel like I am learning new skills and there is a real sense of working as a group. Flooring has by far been my favourite task. The building is ¾’s of the way there and I am still having fun which is a good sign.

I taught my first lesson in the school today on Thyphoid, Healthy eating and brushing your teeth and it was fantastic. I was nervous before hand but once the kids burst through the door you have no choice but to start doing your thing and luckily my thing seemed to work! Next week I start officially in school and after today’s experience I am pretty excited.

Millie gap year building projectMy favourite village moment so far has been fishing with my family. Not really knowing what to expect Ellie and I waded out to the deeper waters of ulaibau with our snorkels. Our dad then pointed to a net and explained that we had to swim along it looking for trapped fish. It wasn’t what I had expected (fishing rod) but it was fun. We swam along this net for an hour and unfortunately there was only one fish, a blow fish, and it escaped. So no fish for dinner, Whoops. I was completely knackered afterwards but I felt like I had just experienced something quite unique so I was more than happy.

The hardest part of living in the village for me is the food. My mum is a good cook and her pancakes are brilliant but the more traditional Fijian dishes I am struggling with. It seems the Fijian flavours are not to my taste and although I won’t ever turn down what I am given I am finding it hard to eat a full helping of most things.

Joseph the musical has kicked off and is already going well. Fijians love to sing and they’re not half bad either. As my musical ear is not as tuned as I would like it to be (to say the least) I am looking forward to getting to the acting part where I can really get stuck in.

My aim for the second half of my village experience is to visit as many house as possible for lunch or dinner and get involved in as much stuff as possible.  Easy.

Millie x

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Gap year project – week three update!


Here’s the latest round up from week three of our gap year project in Uluibau, Fiji;

gap year project jititsu

Monday 11th October –

Today was a bank holiday as Fiji celebrated its independence on “Fiji Day”! There was therefore no school and kindi, however the building project rumbled on under the ever watchful eye of Jack, our very own building manager. The wall bearers were completed above the top plate and the purlins were nailed onto the rafters ready for the roof to go on tomorrow, a big day!

Whilst the building team cracked on the rest of our gap team headed up into the bush with Tomasi to look for timbers to create some hurdles ready for athletics to start tomorrow. With machetes in hand the timbers were cut and brought and in the afternoon the hurdles were created.

In the afternoon we came together to form the next sports rota, with athletics replacing rounders and hockey and Jijitsu replacing football. With Will introducing Jijitsu to the kids for the first time, and Zoe and Neill looking to coach athletics, it is a big two weeks ahead!

gap year project building  gap year week 3 - building

Tuesday 12th October –

After the bank holiday the volunteer projects were back in full swing this morning. On the build all the roofing purlins were strapped and the entire roof was tacked on before lunch which was fantastic. In the afternoon all the remaining timbers on the beach had to be carried to be put in the hall, and after a huge effort from everyone, and some fun along the way, it was a job very well done.

In kindi Rob, Hannah, Zoe, Rose and Bryony made their way to Daku for their first day, and with 12 kids arriving it was a busy first day. In the morning they practiced their numbers, colours and shapes, and in arts and crafts they made crowns to wear. To end it was story time, with Zoe reading “Three Little Pigs”!

In school Sarah went into class 3 and 4 to shadow Master Ipeli, Alistair and Leah went into class 5, 6 and 7 to shadow master Joe, and Emma went into class 8 to shadow Jessie before they start taking their classes tomorrow. They were introduced to the children at school assembly, and had the opportunity to plan their lessons through the day so they are all set for tomorrow! In sports coaching Athletics got underway with classes 3 and 4, whilst Will took classes 7 and 8 for their first ever Jijitsu lesson, of course explaining that they were skills not to be used at home! With Fijians being an extremely physical nation, they had a natural eye for the marshall arts being shown to them. And Zoe was pushed all the way in her sprint race with classes 3 and 4!

With the roof going on today the village asked for us to join them for a grog party, and so movie night was of course postponed until tomorrow, although during the de-brief “Secret Window” was chosen. At the grog party the guitars were out with lots of hop hop, and Thom and Tim took the chance to serve the grog to the team and community, it was quite a party!

gap year project week 3 - school project

Wednesday 13th October –

On the build this morning the gap team began to put on the walling timbers. However with the heavens opening before lunch Jack then asked us to begin the flooring in the afternoon to prevent the walling getting wet, and so the first line of flooring was measured and hammered into place, the building is really starting to take shape!

In kindi the team used the “join the dots” to teach the children writing numbers and their names, and after outside play time they then made boy and girl stick puppets in arts and crafts. It was Rob who took up the challenge of reading for story time, choosing the story of Pinochio.

In school Sarah, Ali, Leah and Emma were taking lessons for the first time, and they did really well. Hannah also went into class 8 in the afternoon to help them with a 1st aid lesson. And sadly due to the heavy rain sports was cancelled, and the team played cards and relaxed in the village. In the evening it was movie time as we came together to watch “Secret Window”.

gap year team week 3 kindi

Thursday 14th October –

Back on the build this morning flooring was the name of the game as the team split into two pods and continued measuring, cutting and nailing the floor timbers. At the end of the day 8 rows were completed, and Jack, our building manager, was extremely happy with the quality of the work.

In kindi the team continued with numbers and colours, and after break time they had the paints mixed as they cut out and painted their hand prints to add to the tree started by our July 2009 team more than one year ago! At story time it was “Three Little Pigs” before the kids headed for home.

In school Emma was assisting Jessie in testing the children on their spoken English, as they were asked to read a stroy and re-tell it to another student. In class 5 & 6 Ali took them through perimeters in Maths, whilst Leah took English and Social Science with class 7. And with Master Ipeli away Sarah had the daunting task of leading class 3 & 4 for the day, and did extremely well taking them through English in the morning before the headmistress came to teach Fijian in the afternoon. With the rain still falling sadly sports coaching was cancelled once again, but with Daku village visiting the team and the projects there was an opportunity to sit with them for a few bowls of grog in the shed during the afternoon.

gap year building project

Friday 15th October –

With the rain having passed this morning the team continued with the flooring, but also cracked on with some of the walling to reach the windows so that Jack can begin to put on the window sills next week. It was a productive day, with the team really finding their rhythm on flooring and completing a further 8 rows before lunch.

In kindi the kids were full of excitement and were quick to call out answers as Rob took them through animals with picture cards, whilst Hannah had the young ones practicing writing letters. Zoe also had numbers on the board to test how well the kids could pick them out. After an energy filled break time a game of “sleeping lions” was much needed, and during arts and crafts they were making paper chains, colouring in each of the strips before we hung it up across the room. And with them having so much energy there was a game of “hokey cokey” before Zoe read “The Gingerbread Man”!

In school the team continued with their classes, and with the sun thinking of putting his hat back on sports coaching was back in the afternoon, with the girls from classes 5, 6, 7 & 8 playing netball, Will having a great response from the class 5 & 6 boys in Jijitsu, and rugby, hockey and cricket also running well.

After school sports it was the youths turn, with our expedition leader Tom taking a rugby training session and Hannah leading a netball session for the girls as we look ahead to the matches against Savuna and Nasauvuki respectively next Saturday!

At the evening de-brief the Entertainment Committee announced the “School Fundraiser” theme as the Ratu’s Variety Show, and the team shall now come together to make some acts ready for the big event. The evening was spent in the “hop hop shed” having some bowls of grog and a dance, a chance to party with the weekend having arrived!

gap year project week 3 - rugby training

Saturday 16th October –

With so much rain falling through the week the Rukuruku trek was pushed back to week 5, and today was therefore a chance for the team to enjoy some village time, with lots heading out to sea for a fishing trip and others heading up to the plantations with their families.

Sunday 17th October –

This morning the team attended church with the community, singing Jerusalem during divine service. There was then the customary Sabbath feast before an afternoon of sleeping, cards, music and relaxing ready for another big week on our gap year project in Fiji!

gap year week 3 - building project

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Gap year stories: Sarah’s first blog from Fiji


sarah  gap year teaching project

Sooo, week three…. first blog! I’m not promising a particularly amazing read because I’m pretty knackered after another full on night groging it up with the village! I have to say I seem to a bit of a party animal when it comes to hop hop, I stick it out till the end!  I’m in the school at the moment teaching 8-9 yr olds English, science, maths, health and social science and art.  We’re sharing the work load with the usual teacher but he seems to think he can have a lil holiday whilst we are here!  The kids are amazing and seem to be enjoying the whole idea of having their picture taken if they do well at a spelling test! I’m staying with the Ratu (chief) of the village, Timothe and his wife. The awkward silences can be quite frequent seeming as he speaks only a little English!  Me and Zoe power on though nicking cracker biscuits whenever we can!

school project fijiI have to say that at about 4 o’clock each day I fully appreciate the position of my house, as my bedroom window looks out on to the main playing field when the village rugby guys do their thing! A cuppa tea, couple of crackers, good view through my window…. my afternoons couldn’t be any better!!!

The best part of this village is getting home from the projects at lunch time when the wind has died down, and sitting by the sea when the tide is rising. The water is so still and when the sun shines it’s pretty much what you see on a post card.

I often forget how far from home I am, as it ends up feeling like your home. We live and work with the villagers as if we had always lived here.

So there you go, a brief insight into my goings on!  An overall opinion so far….. friggen amazing! Every minute of it. Plenty of love to everyone at home x

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Gap year stories: Thom’s thoughts of week three in Fiji


thom blog pic

So here we are, end of week three and the end of another brilliant week here in Uluibau and what a week it’s been!

We had rain and wind blasting through the village for most of the week postponing many of our activities such as sports with the kids after school and mat weaving too. Our trek at Ruku Ruku is now postponed to Saturday week 5 because the route would have been too treacherous. The build had the roofing started on Tuesday which meant a celebration in the village that evening with the traditional drink kava and hop-hop (or dancing) all round.

There are four clans in Uluibau and it was my clan’s turn to host the kava night on Tuesday so I was nominated spokesperson for “talo” (serve) meaning I said when the next round of Cava was to be drunk and then me and a few others in the team served the Cava to the village. This was a sincerely humbling moment for me, serving a village in a ceremony so key to their way of life and being fully accepted in doing so. Tuesday night is usually film night so we pushed that through to Wednesday and sat down to watch Secret Window with some of the villagers, I quite enjoyed it but I’m not sure it was well received across the board.  Thursday night was quiz night were team “It’s better if you do it like this Maurice” won by a massive margin of 9 points.

This week I started on my two week build rota wich has been more than enjoyable. Working on the roof and climbing rafters to fix strapping to purlines and then seeing the roof go on. Wednesday saw the rain come down so we started the flooring and working in “pods” was the name of the game for the rest of the week because of the wet weather. Friday saw the assembly of A-pod. The flooring team extraordinaire that consisted of Will, Ray (Tom Weeks), America (Ellie) and myself. Our flooring was second to none, the perfect selection of flooring pieces and our chiselling, wedging and nailing meant that gaps between pieces were none existent, tis was until pseudo A-pod took over and left a gap big enough to swallow up the ratu if he’s not careful but Jack, our one man wrecking ball and foreman of the site, will soon fix it with his immense forearms and brute strength.

Friday saw the weather subside enough for some sports in the afternoon and I joined in with the lad’s rugby training which concluded with a game of full contact rugby sevens and yes Sean I played, and played well, apparently… I scored at least! :D

Last Saturday after a trip to Levuka we had a fancy dress evening with the team which was “T.P themed” meaning we could dress up as anything beginning with T or P. We had a Pinocchio, Teenange muTanT ninja Turtle, Pirates, The Prince of Persia, Three Packs of cards, Two Presents, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Tiger lilly buT whilsT The Party was geTTing sTarTed, across the Playing field came a Twinkling Pair which PerPlexed The Team somewhat buT as They Tip Toed closer iT became aPParenT That iT was ali and myself dressed as Twin Performing Tin PeoPle ToPPing The use of T’s and P’s sTarTing the name of our costume. (if you think your computer’s gone awol with all the Ts and Ps capitalising, I was actually keeping myself amused by keeping this bit of the blog in the T.P theme… sorry)

Week three has seen many highs for the team and for me personally and although I am feeling well integrated into the team and village I have started to get a little home sick. Thinking about home and all the things I miss having has started to take its toll but it’s all a part of the experience and just something I’ll have to get over.
I’m looking forward to continuing the build and starting on the Joseph project on Friday!

An awesome experience and an awesome time.

Thom