Archive for January, 2011

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Gap Year Batiki Diary – Week one on the projects

Batiki gap year projects (12)  Batiki gap year projects (13)

Monday 24th January –

This morning the team were packing up their kits and getting ready to head out to Batiki island for the 8 week project phase of the expedition. We picked Jack, our building manager, and made out way to Levuka town where we met the Batiki boats. It was not long before the team and bags were loaded and we made our way out to the island. With the sunshining and no wind it was a quick and easy crossing, and the team were into their new home. After changing into sulus, shirts and jaba dresses we presented a sevusevu to the Ratu and village elders, and the team then headed off to their new homes with their families to settle in. The team and community then attended a welcome church service together before having a huge feast and of course some grog and “hop hop”…it was great for Think Pacific to have finally touched down in Batiki!

Batiki gap year projects (8)  Batiki gap year projects (11)

Tuesday 25th January –

With projects due to start tomorrow today was spent prepping the various elements. In the morning the leaders took the team through the plans and drawings for the community hall, before taking a walk down to the school to meet the headmaster and teachers and see the classrooms and the kids. Back in the village they meet Liti, who shall be assisting us with the kindergarten, before heading home for lunch. The afternoon was spent relaxing as the expedition leaders took the ppps’ with each of the team

( * ‘ppp’  stands for ‘personal project planning meeting’ –Each volunteer is assigned to one of our leaders and every week, our leaders have a one-to-one talk with each volunteer to discuss their role, their experience and anything they wish to discuss in confidence. This offers individual support to each person in the team).

Following the PPS  there was an evening de-brief and the project rotas were pieced together so everyone can play a full role in the teaching, building, kindergarten and sports development project.  Everyone is now ready and excited to begin tomorrow!

Batiki gap year projects (16)  Batiki gap year projects (15)

Wednesday 26th January –

This morning was a huge morning for Think Pacific and our January 2011 Batiki team as projects began on Batiki island for the first time!

On the build Ben, Tavis, Charlie, Georgia, Bryony, Harry, Dan, Rupert and Matt were busy digging holes, mixing cement, setting the posts and carrying timbers, and by then end of the day 20 posts were completed to show the huge effort put in by everyone.

Batiki gap year projects (3)  Batiki gap year projects (6)

In kindi it was a very good, if slightly chaotic start, but that is the beauty of kindi! With it being the first day ever for the young ones to come to a kindi Fanny, Gillian and Livvy decided to focus on games and fun, before starting to introduce the routines tomorrow. So they sang songs, had outdoor games and played musical statues, before story time to end. And with 9 children turning up it was a very positive first day.

In school it was a slightly slower start, with the children and teachers settling in to the new school year and the most effective roles of the team within the classes still being set. But with Oli in classes 3 & 4, Satnam in 5 & 6 and Kerry in 7 & 8 we will be developing the support they can provide in the classroom so the volunteers roles are fully defined in the next few days.

As ever sports coaching started with a bang, with Kerry, Matt, Gillian and Georgia taking the girls from classes 1-4 for rounders, Livvy and Bryony taking the girls from classes 5-8 for netball, Oli, Rupert, Dan,. Fanny, Satnam and Tavis taking the boys from classes 1-4 for football and Harry, Ben and Charlie taking the boys from classes 5-8 for rugby.

Batiki gap year projects (7)  Batiki gap year projects (10)

In the evening it was party time as we looked to celebrate Gillian’s birthday! The team and community came together in the shed for a huge feast prepared by the village ladies, and after a short rest (with more food of tea and birthday cake) it was back for some bowls of grog. In true Fiji style the guitars were of course there and the “hop hop” was in full swing, quite a way to spend a birthday!

Batiki gap year projects (9)  Batiki gap year projects (14)

Thursday 27th January –

On the build this morning the team dug the final 15 foundation holes before setting the posts and cementing them in to complete the foundations which is a fantastic effort in just 2 days.

In kindi the team began to introduce a few of the structures and ideas, including hand washing and tooth brushing club before and after snack time. There were also more games of duck duck goose and song time, before “Alice in Wonderland” was read during story time.

In school it was another slightly difficult day for the team, with their involvement limited as the school teachers get everything ready for the new term.  In the afternoon the attention turned to sports coaching, with our volunteers leading the coaching for all the age groups, who rotated between different sports.

In the evening it was quiz time, written by “Team Canada” which of course included a round all about  Canada, as well as song intros and more. And after the battle of the brains it was team “Quiz on your face” who won the day!

Batiki gap year projects  Batiki gap year projects (4)

Friday 28th January –

With the posts completed yesterday this morning the team began sawing the posts to bottom plate level, before measuring and cutting the studs to size and nailing on the outside wall bearers. It has been a big few days on the build, and next week we shall look to have the frame up.

In kindi the kids went through their shapes and colours during lego time, and during arts and crafts they painted their hands to print onto the card which they absolutely loved. For outside play there was a wheelbarrow race, a hopping race and a skipping race!:)

Batiki gap year projects (2)  Batiki gap year projects (5)

In school it was a far more productive day as the teachers and team begin to settle into a rhythm. Oli read a story on droughts with classes 3 & 4 before asking them to draw a picture and write a few lines about what may happen during a drought. In class 5&6 Satnam was assisting with their work on tens, hundreds and thousands, and also took comprehension for English, and in classes 7 & 8 Kerry read a poem and then took the classes through the questions.

Sports coaching was once again in full swing in the afternoon, with classes 5-8 boys doing some tackling drills and some 2 v 1 before playing a controlled match, whilst in football the team split classes 1-4 boys for coaching before playing some 5 a side. In netball the 5-8 girls were showing some real talents, and the little ones were striking the ball nicely in rounders.

In the evening the team and community came together in the shed to play some cards, have a few bowls of grog and “hop hop”, and the atmosphere was absolutely amazing, exactly what life in Fiji is all about!:)

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Gap Year Yanuca – School and sports coaching begins

Tom O and Jack Andy teaching in Fiji

Saturday 22nd January –

With Saturday as a ‘village day’, the majority of the team had the opportunity to go fishing. Some using nets, whilst others helped their dads fish by spear – a great skill and one that many a Fijian is very adept at! With the plan of a beach bbq for the whole village being put off due to a very typical English style wet, summers day; the catch was taken home and cooked for dinner. We’ll be scheduling the bbq on the beach soon.

The evening was yet another huge grog and hophop session.  Yanuca village really know how to party and some of our guys and girls can really move too!! We will certainly have to find some energy and endurance if we are to stand the pace for the next 7 weeks! Although with some of the boys often staying the duration of the grog sessions we have some chance of beating them at the their own game.

Laura Village life in Yanuca

Sunday 23rd January –

The first Sabbath was a scorching hot day! Very little breeze and a bright, shining sun in a cloudless sky is possibly the worst weather imaginable when you are to sit in church. However, the occasion was lovely. A very nice and also humbling speech from one of the village elders followed by our Mata Ni Vanua offering a few words took everyone’s minds off the heat and yet again reminded us why we are here and how happy the village is to be playing host to us.

It appears one of our toughest tests is going to be convincing little 5 year old Kuli that we are indeed nice people and there is no reason to be scared. However, for now I am sure he will continue to cry, wail and run around in a frantic fashion at even the slightest site of any of the team!

The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing, catching up on diaries, having PPP’s.

PPP’s (Personal Project Planning) continued all afternoon – these are a vital role of project life. It is where each member of the team has the opportunity to chat through life in village, projects, sports, and just about anything they fancy with either Tomasi or Jen to ensure they are getting the most from their time in Yanuca and Fiji.

There was a mellow grog session in the evening followed by most of the team watching the moon rise. One of our team 8, came up with an idea for a photo to mark Think Pacific’s eighth project in Fiji, and Jack, Emma, Jenny and Harriett played the starring roles with their torches and Anna behind the lens capturing the magic. The outcome of which can be seen below.

TP 8

Monday 24th January –

With today being a teacher training day, and preparation taking place for the start of school tomorrow it was a final day to have the whole team on the build. They all worked hard, again through the scorching heat, and managed to get all the joists cut and nailed down, all studs cut, top plates cut and some very impressive joining work done by Jen, Alyse, Tomos and Harriett.

At this rate the build will fly up in no time and it will begin to look like a building. Although with only 5 people on the build from tomorrow there will be a lot of hard work ahead.

Building project Yanuca On the build, yanuca gap team

Due to unforeseen circumstances with transport, Jim, the building manager for Batiki unfortunately couldn’t get down in time to head to Batiki with the other Think Pacific team. So it meant we had to lose Jack for a week or so to allow the build out there to get underway. Jim joined us in Yanuca, he’s a great guy and a very talented carpenter to have on the project and in the evening and he settled in and began to get to know the team, who are really looking forward to working with him and learning some carpentry skills.

The hophop shed was busy again with plenty of the team up past 11 boogeying away to the shouts of “shake it, shake it”. Laura was making up for lost time after resting over the weekend after not feeling 100% and so did not miss a dance while she was there!

With a busy day on all projects tomorrow we only hope the grog doesn’t take full effect and have people sleeping in in the morning.
Harriett1 Emillie

Tuesday 25th January –

With Nick, Alyse, Gill, Harriett and Jenny in kindi, and AJ, Laura, Emillie, Andy and Anna in school this week we headed off early for the long walk to Nasauvuki. The tide was on the way in and the 20 minute walk through thigh deep water followed by half an hour through the bush the team were mud covered and tired by the time they arrived. Even still, smiles were on faces and excitement was visible ahead of their first day of proper project life.

 Alyse Anna and Emma

With some of the teachers away from school this morning, there was a real task ahead for our volunteers, some of the guys found themselves on their own with a big class of Fijian children to teach. Certainly a baptism of fire for our teaching volunteers!  To their great credit they were fantastic. Not being phased at all, and getting to know their classes, gauging their different abilities and playing a few ice breaker games. Laura and AJ’s class 7 and 8 were by far the noisiest being led in some singing and dancing to “Fijian classics” such as Justin Bieber – Baby, Shakira – Wakawaka and a couple of actual Fijian songs too.

Kindi was also a slow start with only a few of the island children attending this morning. The team used their spare time to get to know the few children who did turn up but also to find out what materials there was in the cupboard and get the plans in place for the kindi project over the coming weeks.

They planned some arts and crafts activities and looked at ways to introduce letters, numbers, shapes and colours. Fingers crossed word gets around and there is a much better attendance tomorrow.

Sports projects fiji Sports coaching

Today was also the start of the sports coaching. With every child in the school taking part, and 5 different sports being coached, it was impressive sight on the playing field to see so much activity and so many happy faces! The sports for these first 2 weeks are rugby (coached by Tom O, Tom C, Jack) netball (coached by Jenny, AJ, Emillie) hockey (coached by Harriett, Emma, Anna) rounders (coached by Alyse, Laura, Gill) and football (coached by Andy, Nick, Tomos). The team being here provides an opportunity for the school children to receive proper structured sports coaching which they ordinarily would not get. We look forward to seeing the kids all progress over the next 7 weeks.

The team took part in their first games of touch rugby for the boys and netball for the girls. The heat was a massive obstacle, with drinks breaks being taken regularly and many attempting to stay in the little shade available on the pitch. The skill level surprised a few, and impressed everyone although getting used to the Fijian village forward pass takes a little bit longer to adjust to!

After the walk home, it was time to get the generator running for ‘village movie night’ The team gathered around for the evening and the film ‘Takers’ which came out as winner. It’s been a busy week already, and with Angharad’s birthday coming up very soon, lots more to look forward to before the weekend!

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Gap year video – A trek through Fiji

Here in the TP HQ, we’ve finally got around to editing all the fabulous video footage from our September 2010 gap year projects!  We’ve already posted a couple of videos on our site of the team completing the building project and leading the kindergarten classes, which you can view on our gap year videos page.  Here is another awesome one for the collection! This follows the gap year team as they climb to the peak of Ruku Ruku on Ovalau Island.  In true wildlife documentary style,  past volunteer Thom Udall, does a fantastic job of tracking the team through the Fijian rainforest. Even David Attenborough would find it hard to beat this performance!

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

A big thank you to Tim Morton and Kukri Sports!

Tim Morton (right) delivering the sports kitVinaka vaka levu (a big thank you!) to the team at Kukri Sports Ireland, who have made a massively generous donation of brand new sports wear for our volunteer projects in Fiji. 

Tim Morton (right in the picture) from Kukri Sports found out about our sports development projects through a former rugby team mate and one our project leaders, Tim Mckee.

The sports gear, which includes jerseys, shorts and socks will be hugely appreciated in Fiji and will go a long way to supporting the grass roots youth teams who we are assisting long term in the outer islands of Fiji.  The kids in these remote communities have such a severe lack of sporting kit, yet such a huge passion for sports, especially rugby. They will be incredibly excited when these boxes arrive in the next couple of months!

With our leader, Tim Mckee (picture, left), heading back out to the Fiji Islands in April, ready to lead a new phase of projects on Batiki Island, he now has the task of carrying all of this kit ten thousand miles to Fiji. We’ll have an update once the kit arrives with pictures and blogs of the young Fijian players kitted out in their new sportswear.

It’s always amazing to see how generous organisations and individuals can be in supporting development aims so far away, and we know that this will make a big difference as we continue to establish and support access to team sports for kids in some of the poorest villages of the South Pacific.

For more information about Kukri Sports, or to get your hands on some awesome team sportswear, please visit


The Think Pacific team.

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Batiki team – Gap year photos from the village

Our gap year volunteers on Batiki Island are off to a fabulous start. They’ve been in Yavu village for only a week but the team are already becoming a real part of the community. The volunteer projects are underway with the kindergarten school foundations already completed and the wall posts now being set.  The team have spent the past week teaching lessons in Batiki School, leading youth initiatives and sports coaching each day too.  We’ll be posting the full volunteer diary from week one of our Batiki gap year project soon. But first, here are a few great photos as our volunteers are welcomed into the village and spend their first few days relaxing into traditional Fijian life.

Batiki Jan 11 gap year- Week 1 (3)

Batiki gap year Jan 11 - Week 1 (2)

Batiki Jan 11 - gap year Week 1 (6)

Batiki Jan 11 - gap year Week 1 (5)

Batiki Jan 11 - gap year Week 1 (4) Batiki Jan 11 - Week 1 (45)

Batiki gap year Jan 11 - Week 1 (1)

Batiki Jan 11 - Week 1 (9) Batiki Jan 11 - Week 1 (30)

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Yanuca gap year team, week one volunteering in Fiji

Water fight on the beach in Yanuca

Monday 17th January –

After a week of briefings and relaxation and enjoying some sun on Caqalai, an anxious but excited team headed off to their new home in Yanuca village. The sea was as flat as a mill pond so just perfect for the crossing. Even before the village was in sight you could hear the whole community singing. As we came round the corner and into the bay in which the village sits the sight was incredible. An Array of bright multi coloured shirts and dresses, lots of smiles and dozens of people on the sea wall ready to welcome their new friends, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

The team moved on towards the shed for the sevusevu to the Ratu of Yanuca, but not before some sea front hop hop! A sign of things to come for their first evening! The team were then presented with salusalu’s (a flower garland) by their families and headed off to see their new homes. On returning to the shed shortly after, an impressive feast was served and the grog and hophop soon followed. The team impressed with some excellent moves but in particular Jenny and AJ appeared to be crowd favourites. Nick also managed to build a reputation for himself and was the last man standing out of the team.

Yanuca grog time

Tuesday 18th January –

Today was a big day in terms of visiting school, meeting Master Mika, the headmaster, and having a look around the kindi. The team walked what will become a very familiar walk through the mangroves, low sea tide and beaches to Moturiki District School. Here we presented a sevusevu, and were taken on a tour of the school compound. It also gave the team a chance to see where they will be able to demonstrate their sporting prowess a little later on.

In true Fiji style the grog was bought out, and our planned departure still during high tide was put back, ending up with us getting a boat back round to Yanuca, returning a good few hours after we intended. The afternoon was spent relaxing and getting to know families before again the grog came out, hophop started and a new song was introduced. During this song each person must come up with an animal and when prompted, produce the sound of this animal. Jack with his monkey and Tom O with his elephant were clear crowd favourites.

A big day tomorrow with the build starting and the team will have to work hard through the heat to and humidity to get us off to a good start.

Yanuca water fight Water fight Yanuca

Wednesday 19th January –

An awesome start to the build project saw 16 posts finished off in the one day. Holes dug, posts lined up and levelled, cement mixed and then poured into the holes. The sun was out in full from very early on, and it didn’t relent until it finally set in the evening. It goes without saying that there were some very tired people at the de-brief, and a good third of the group were in bed and fast asleep by 8 o’clock! Tomorrow will certainly be a rest day for a few people.
With school yet to start and the team not yet making their way across the sea to MDS school, the chosen afternoon activity is volleyball. The village guys and girls have been kind so far and toned down the accuracy and power of their spikes, and the huge improvement of our team has seen some competitive rallies and games. Harriet in particular has improved beyond recognition.

The evening was spent enjoying a few games of cards with the kids and youth of village, Uno was introduced to the village and trump 10 was introduced to the team. A very enjoyable evening and just right for the team to relax after a hard day’s work.

Hop hop in Fiji

Thursday 20th January –

Another very productive start to the day. The team were able to finish lunch as there was nothing else that could be done until Jack had wielded his chainsaw. All the posts were finished and set ready for the direct posts and the bottom plate to be done tomorrow.

Due to the afternoon off the build, the guys made the most and caught up with their sleep, diaries, and played a lot of volleyball. Smiles all round at the de-brief and all eagerly awaiting the evening’s quiz.

The quiz this week was witnessed by arguably the largest TP Quiz audience ever! During the quiz the leaders unfortunately struggled due to a break of the rules from Think S-Pacifically by including a question on Harry Potter. Particular frustration coming to Tomasi as it was in the ‘General Knowledge’ round!! The Imaginary Badgers (Angharad, Nick, Alyse, Harriet and Tom Claydon) came out the winners earning their pack of Oreo’s and the right to write next week’s quiz.

With everyone seeming reluctant to call it a night at this early stage a few games were played. The animal game, but to much more amusement and some very tense moments the game “Down in the jungle” was enjoyed by the team and village kids alike. Vani from class 6 stealing the show with her lighting fast reactions to emerge as champion.

Some of the team headed to the shed for some hophop, whilst others chose to save their energy for the no doubt epic Friday night grog and hophop evening.

Setting the foundations in Yanuca Laying the posts in Yanuca

Friday 21st January –

With the plan for the day of two 6m direct posts and the complete bottom plates being put in place it was always going to be a hard day’s work. The start of the day was wet and rainy so the team used it to practice hammering and nailing.

When the weather relented, it was straight on with the work and the team showed some impressive early skills. By lunch time the bottom plate was complete and the time came for the heavy lifting of the direct posts into place. Holes were dug, measurements made by Jack and the two posts were surprisingly easily lifted and slotted in. The concrete was mixed and by 3 o’clock the posts were secured and it is the first time the site actually starts to look like a building.

Friday night was organised for a big hophop and grog session. People arrived slowly to start with and the first dance involved all of about 4 people. Soon after the village and team arrived in their droves and the shed was bouncing. Alive with some Fijian classics but also some contemporary mixes of ‘Twist and Shout’ and ‘Rolling on the River’. Some incredible moves were being pulled out with Harriet, Emma and Jenny stealing the show with their, Back to the 70’s, style moves, much to the delight of the locals.

A brilliant first week in Yanuca village. A busy weekend of fishing, bbq’s and hophop is planned, before the start of the youth, school and kindi projects next Tuesday. Exciting times ahead!

Building Yanuca