Archive for February, 2011

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Anna Hurley’s Blog from the Fiji Islands

anna blog

Arriving in the village of Yanuca was one of the best days of my life. After a few days of relaxing and bonding on Caqalai the suspense of going into the village had built and on the boat ride over the butterflies were fluttering as we all became slowly more nervous. However, all fears were soon crushed as lining the sea wall in the distance all we could see were rows and rows of bright colours where all the villagers had put on their best dress to greet us. As we pulled closer they all started to sing and dance and we were pulled straight on shore and into a massive hophop. This hophop continued far into the night as the grog steadily flowed. Never have I felt more welcome in any place in my life with everyone pulling you up to dance, wanting to know your name and to help you in every way possible. I immediately felt like I was a true member of Yanuca and excited that this tiny village of 15 houses was home for the next couple of months.

The first few days the team clubbed together to begin building the community hall. We spent the days digging, hammering and often rushing off to the toilet as our stomachs were not quite used to the Fijian cuisine yet! For a group who had never picked up a hammer before (apart from Andy, though at times we can’t quite believe it!) we learnt the basic skills pretty quickly under Big Jack’s ‘guidance’ (mainly consisting of “what happened?” and “get me the chainsaw”). It was nice to all be doing the same thing to begin with so we were still able to get to know everyone whilst bonding with all the villagers as well. We all found ourselves comparing families, homes and the food that was being prepared for us. When it was time for the project rotas to begin the bottom plate of the build was already in place and we were impressed at how quickly it was all going up.

Anna (2)

I spent my first 2 weeks teaching class 4 at the ‘local’ school. I say local in loose terms as the walk takes just under an hour and is often through very deep water! Sharp rocks and shells on the sea bed also don’t help and many of us have ended up with pretty wrecked feet (possibly a slight understatement). I can’t believe I used to complain about walking to the bus stop. However, we have all learnt to love the walk either chatting amongst ourselves (genuinely playing would you rather…) or walking deep in thought about what everyone at home is up to or how we still can’t really believe we’re actually here. I still find I’m having to pinch myself that after months of waiting I’m actually on the other side of the world having the time of my life, living the dream.

Teaching was one of the biggest challenges I have faced here and yet one of the best things I’ve done. I was shown into the classroom of 10 children (the smallest class in the school thank goodness) and simply told ‘off you go’! The class had no teacher as she was on maternity leave and so for the first few days I was on my own. Fortunately, I was soon joined by the Australian gap year student, Nathalie so the stress of teaching was shared and we battled through the pain of the ‘Draco Malfoy’ lookalike – and personality-like – together.

Each class has a syllabus, however, it’s quite tricky to teach a class about the Aborigines when they don’t even know the alphabet yet! I ended up going all the way back to basics and ditching all the text books. We had to teach the sounds of the letters as well as the letters themselves and it turns out that they were learning the same things in kindi as we were in class 4! It was evident that since the children had started school some had not learnt a single thing while others were flying through. It was upsetting to see, however, the feeling that you got at the end of the day when the children had grasped what you were trying to get across is one I cannot describe. After 45 minutes of teaching the difference between a liquid and a solid, pouring water over the kids heads and banging frantically on doors and tables, when they finally shout out the correct answer the smile across my face was a picture. It’s so satisfying and a real sense of achievement hits you. Although you’re only in school for a short period, just realising you’ve taught them one tiny thing makes you feel as if your time there has been all worth it.

After school I went into kindi which has been my best week yet. Circle time, singing, throwing paint around and ’learning’ was the order of the day. I don’t think I have ever said the colours red and blue more times in half an hour and still not have the person opposite know the difference! They are all so enthusiastic though and often genuinely believe they are right when you hold up a blue block and they shout out pink! We all saw the funny side and spent most of the day just laughing. The tooth brush march was definitely the highlight, however, I’m still unsure whether I found it more cute or disgusting! There was a huge amount of spitting and metre long lines of drool hanging from the chins of every child. If the village dogs ever came near, toothbrushing turned into absolute chaos with kids running everywhere, toothpaste smothered all over their face! Crazy Foto became my favourite shortly followed by Peni. I will forever remember when on my last day every child ran out shouting ‘moce Anna’ over and over again. Even if they hadn’t learnt their colours and numbers, at least they knew my name :-)

When my week at kindi was sadly over it was time for me to make my mark on the build, even if that was a few holes in the floor and massive hammer marks in the wood. We’re so close to finishing all the building now which is good and bad; good because it means the paint can come out but bad because Big Jack will soon be leaving the team and the end is getting slowly closer.

anna washing Anna (1)

After project each day we do sports coaching at school and Emma, Harriet and I have been trying to coach some hockey. However, taming extremely enthusiastic children with a large wooden stick in their hands can often be trickier than first thought, especially when you have a class of 30 children, only 10 sticks and 4 balls. We’ve resulted to not even giving class 1 and 2 hockey balls as we decided it was detrimental to both the health of them and us and therefore let them go mental with tennis balls, which when hit with a hockey stick travel absolutely miles. None of them wear shoes and they all seem to believe that the aim of hockey is to hit the ball as hard as you can and just aim for goal. There is no passing or legal tackling and we often are holding our breath and biting our nails as we  watch them try to play a match. We’ve learnt to just go with it and have decided that, although not as effective, Fijian style hockey is a lot more fun. It really gets your adrenaline going when a large heavy ball is flying at you and all you have to protect your feet is some foamy flip-flops. We have seen some progress with the older years who now know how to hold a stick correctly and most have learnt a sort of reverse stick and are insane dribblers. One boy, without any guidance, did a chip over the stick and ran on leaving his defender completely dumb struck as to what on earth had just happened. I don’t think I’ve ever cheered more loudly. They all then attempted this leaving balls flying everywhere in the air. Great fun.

This time last year I would never have thought I would be on a remote island in Fiji, having cold bucket showers, hand washing my clothes with a scrubbing brush and living in a single roomed rectangular house made of corrugated iron. When I left for here I was worried about all these things and living with a family who I’d never met before. However, all of these put together are what make me feel completely at home here. I feel like I’ve lived this way for years. When I was told in the briefing that I would find a second home in Fiji I underestimated what they said. I’ve got a home, a wonderful family and, although there are zero luxuries, I feel like I have everything I need.

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Batiki gap year team – Week four on our volunteer projects in Batiki

week 4 - sports coaching (6) week 4 - school (3)

Saturday 12th February –

The weekend is always a great opportunity for the team to spend some time relaxing with their families, with Ben heading off spear fishing with a few of the village guys and others taking walks down the beach.

In the afternoon it was sports time, with three teams, captained by Livvy, Bryony and Gillian going head to head on the netball court, and some 7s and 10s rugby for the guys. The netball was a very tight affair, with some fantastic matches and some great netball being played, with Livvy’s team coming out on top, and the ladies have very high hopes for the Lovoni tournament in March! In rugby Charlie was left to represent the TP boys, with Harry, Ben and myself all our injured, and with Matt playing some 7s before resting for the 10s. With it being the first contact session it is fair to say there were some tired legs and some inconsistent play, but there were also some nice combinations coming together and some good tries scored so lots to build on in the weeks ahead as we lead up to the 7s competition!

week 4 - kindi. week 4 - kindi. (19)

Sunday 13th February –

As ever Sabbath was a day of rest and relaxation for the team, who attended divine service in the morning with their families and the village community. After a big lunch the afternoon saw the team and village huddles in houses to catch the Las Vegas 7s, and with Fiji reaching the finals there was quite an atmosphere!

week 4 - kindi. (12) week 4 - kindi. (11)

Monday 14th February –

Despite it being a bank holiday here in Fiji the team were back on project for school and kindi. On the build the flooring was continued, and the team also began the walling, with huge progress being made on the side next to the village church.

In kindi it was time for the epic kindi sports day! With the school kids having the day off Ben, Matt, Georgia and Bryony had some extra helpers, and with events such as the egg and spoon it was a great occasion, although I think the sack race stole the show!

In the afternoon the team had a rounders match, splitting down into ppp groups for the clash if the titans. It is fair to say there was some epic hitting, with Charlie and Rupert hitting the school roof. There was also some epic throwing, with Tavis launching the ball the entire length of the playing field! After my ppp group won the first match it went to best of three, and for the second Jimmy, our building manager, subbed in for Harry to show us his rounders skills. The second match was extremely tight, but again my ppp group pipped it by 1 rounder. It was an awesome afternoon, and everyone is looking forward to the team football after sports on Friday!

With it being Valentines Day this evening we put on a “Blind Date” event, with members of the team taking it turn to go behind the corrugated iron and ask questions, with three nominated to write answers that were read out by our Cilla, and re-capped by our graham! The answers gave us allot of laughs and funny moments, and by the end of the evening Charlie was skipping off into the sunset with Dan…it was romantic!

week 4 - school (2) week 4 - kindi. (8)

Tuesday 15th February –

Back on the build this morning the team focused on walling, with two pods continuing on that whilst one was working on flooring. And with the kindi and school teams back on build in the afternoon it was a busy site, with good progress both on the walling and flooring being made.

In kindi they were practicing numbers in early learning, using the cards to count up to 10 before singing 1,2,3,4,5…Once I caught a fish alive to help them with the numbers in song. They were also loving the Hokey Cokey as ever, and the music man song is a favourite at the moment! For arts and crafts they all drew each other in crayon before colouring them in, some pretty special art for the kindi walls! 

In school Charlie took over from Tavis in classes 5 & 6, whilst Livvy was back in classes1&2, with Rupert in 3&4 and Dan in 7&8. There was Maths and English in the morning, and with all classes having Fijian on a Tuesday afternoon they re-joined the build after lunch.

For sports class 7&8 moved on to free kicks and shooting from distance against a goal keeper in football, whilst in cricket Matt, Harry and Oli had a game going with classes 5&6 that was really productive. In hockey 3&4 practiced their dribbling, with looking up and looking for the pass being a key part of the drills used by Bryony, Ben and Livvy, and in volleyball classes 1&2 practiced their hits before having a big group game.

Tonight is of course movie night, and with the films being narrowed down to Bad Boys 2, Hitch and Enemy of the state, it was Enemy of the State that won the day.

week 4 - build (5) week 4 - build (2)

Wednesday 16th February –

On build this morning all the pods were on walling with the sun shining bright. Harry, Gillian and Fanny looked to continue with the wall nearest the Church which has just a few rows left to go on, whilst Kerry and Oli made huge progress with the seaside wall and Tavis and Livvy started the wall nearest the school. There was some hard graft put in during some pretty hot weather through the morning, and after lunch the team, joined by our kindi recruits, moved inside the carry on the flooring.

In kindi arts and crafts was allot of fun as Georgia, Bryony, Matt and Ben drew around Leah, one of the kindi kids, and got the rest to colour her in. The life size colouring book was then hung on our kindi wall!

In school the headmaster and class 7&8 teacher were away, so Rupert and Dan were holding the fort in classes 3&4 and 7&8 respectively. Charlie also continued in classes 5&6. In the afternoon it was also the health awareness seminars for classes 5, 6, 7 & 8, and Oli, Rupert, Kerry and Dan did a great job in introducing some key health ideas to the children, including the dangers and risks of smoking, dental hygiene and a healthy diet, all areas that are extremely relevant to Fijian youths living in the island villages. In class 7&8 they also touched on mental illness and the best treatment of it, with two boys in the class having epilepsy and there being very little understanding of it.

In sports coaching today Georgia introduced swimming classes for the first time, taking 5 from classes 5&6 to learn basic swimming strokes and control in the water. With the communities out here in Batiki relying on travel by outboard in open seas swimming is a fantastic skill to pass on! Cricket, football, hockey and volleyball were also in full swing.

In the evening it was once again time for the team to cook with their families, with Fanny making roro with fish as an example of the dishes the team come to know. And after dinner the team joined the community for a few bowls of grog together in the shed. 

week 4 - kindi. (7) week 4 - rugby training (3)

Thursday 17th February –

With some rain falling this morning the build pods cracked on with the flooring, working to complete a number of rows before lunch. In the afternoon we were able to continue with the walling on the two end walls, and with Jimmy, our building manager, working on the window sills by the end of the week we shall look to have all the walling above the window level.

In kindi sadly the rain kept some of the regulars away, so with only 7 the team threw in an extra long lego time, before playing musical chairs where the kids have to stand on bits of coloured paper when the music stopped. In the final it was down to Ronny and Koroi, and after Litia, the kindi teacher, had taken them outside to dance a little it was Ronny who was first to run back in and find the paper!

In school Dan took English in morning, reading passages and poems, before the teacher returned to continue classes. In class 3 Rupert was also taking the children through stories in the morning before the headmaster returned after recess. And in class 5&6 Charlie went through missing factors in maths, before teaching direct and in-direct speech in English.

For sports class 5&6 were on hockey, ending with a game of 5 vs 5, whilst 3&4 took football. Cricket had the organised chaos of classes 1&2, focusing on catching in a circle, whilst volleyball had classes 7&8. Georgia also took 4 from classes 5&6 for swimming lessons.

With Thursday night being “Quiz Night” this weeks questions were written by our last winners Quiz on Your Face,, with “Team Canada” taking home the oreos!

week 4 - kindi. (6) week 4 - school (1)

Friday 18th February –

On build this morning the team were set some pretty tough targets as we looked for a big end to the week, with Livvy, Tavis, Oli and Kerry working on building up the front wall, and Fanny, Gillian and Satnam continuing on the side wall. Everyone worked extremely hard, and with some great team work by lunch our goals were reached and Jimmy, our building manager, was a very happy man!

In kindi it was a big day as Matt, Ben, Bryony and Georgia took the kids down the beach for the kindi teddy bear picnic. There was some dancing on the beach to S Club, some cakes and juice for snacks, and some snorkelling and body boarding fun! Everyone had an absolute blast, coming back all smiles!

In school it was the last day for Rupert in class 3&4, Charlie in class 5&6 and Dan in class 7, helping with English and Maths. And for sports coaching Dan, Satnam, Rupert and Kerry had organised a whole school football tournament for the kids to have a chance to show the skills they have been learning over the last 4 weeks of coaching. Sadly class 3&4 were late out of class so the junior tournament was cancelled and classes 1&2 split into 4 teams for matches. The classes 5-8 tournament was however in full swing, with Dan, Charlie, Harry and Oli managing the 4 boy teams, and Kerry refereeing the girls match. With some lovely football being played by kids who have until now grown up only playing rugby the games themselves were a big success, and with a last minute goal putting Harry’s team The Blues into the final to play Charlie’s Stormers it was all to play for. The bell for the end of school sadly interrupted the final with the blues 1-0 up after just two minutes, but the tournament was settled as a draw!

The evening was a huge one for the team and village as we were visited by the three other villages on Batiki – Mua, Naigani and Manuku, as well as a village form the neighbouring island of Nairai in the Lomaiviti Province, who came to meet the team and see the hall. In the day the village guys re-built the shed to create space, as by 9pm it was full of people enjoying the biggest grog party we have seen so far. There were bands from Manuku and Nairai playing the songs, lots of grog being drunk and, of course, allot of “hop hop”….i’m told the party went until morning!

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Yanuca gap year – Latest diary from our team in Fiji

IMG_3558 IMG_3690

Monday 14th February –

Today was a bank holiday and so it was a day off for everyone other than those who chose to do some work on the build. Time was spent in plantations and fishing and eating. Expedition leader Tomasi made the mistake of eating the last doughnut from Harriet’s house and Harriet then took revenge and moved everything out of his tent and putting it on top of the concrete water tank!  Much to the amusement of the team and Tomasi of course seeing the funny side, there may however, be some form of revenge at a later date!

The build continues and for the next two weeks AJ, Emillie, Anna, Andy, Tom Claydon and Gill will be refining their hammering and sawing techniques looking to complete the floor before the week is out. Jack ‘the machine’ building manager who just seems to be able to fix any problem or error with nothing except his bare hands will knock up some windows, doors and steps yet again making the building look that little bit more complete.

IMG_3678 alyse (2)

Tuesday 15th February –

The start of the 3rd and final rota began today, and it is unbelievable how quickly time is going by! In school this rota Harriet and Tomos are working with class 5, whilst Nick and Jenny are in Class 6. Both will no doubt enjoy the challenge; particularly with the whole of class 5 being known for their rowdiness, and in class 6 focusing on the development of a couple of children at the lower end who struggle in most areas of school work.

Kindi saw the arrival of Jack, Emma, Tomo and Laura, who were greeted with some happy faces. Carring on from where the previous 2 rota’s have left off will be no easy challenge, but time in kindi is great fun and so rewarding after the hard work put in.

Sports was unfortunately cancelled due to yet more adverse weather! The weather has been a bit of a nuisance over the past week and consequently sports coaching has really struggled to get going consistently. Hopefully the usually bring and sunny Fijian weather will come back with vengeance and dry up the field!

Gill and Emillie (1) harriet

Wednesday 16th February –

With Tomasi heading over to Suva for today and tomorrow Jen was left in command of the TP ship, and will also contribute the diary entries for these days..

Things went quite smoothly today in all aspects of project life. Work on the build has continued with some fine work on the floor as well as finishing making the windows and work going into the doors. The steps are going up as well, making it much easier to get into our hall while carrying tools.

Children are learning and having fun at school and kindi. It was a nice arrival this afternoon hearing Jungle Book songs being belted out by class 6 with preparation for their upcoming performance.

We finally had sports again today. The coaching is going really well as things were looking quite professional and slightly muddy on the field. It’s always great to see the children smiling, laughing, and having a blast turning into mud monsters!

For our evening activity we had some mat and basket weaving with some of the women and men in the village. Although traditionally it is the women who make mats, we had some of our boys learning as well. We also learned about Fijian watches- essentially a grass bracelet, which explains a lot about ‘Fiji Time’!

Emillie Gill 

Thursday 17th February –

The flooring is finished on one side with about 5 rows to go on the other end, all windows are up and the doors and steps are completed!  This is a very exciting process for us to see everything we’ve been working on come together.

School and kindi are going well with work continuing on letter recognition in kindi. Harriet gave a great maths lesson involving some very heavy cupcakes and cakes drawn on the board I caught the end of, and again, hearing the bellows of jungle book songs on approach to the school is amazing.

Due to some serious Fijian rain sports was cancelled today, and the team headed back early to rehearse for the Talent Show tomorrow night, and also enjoy a bit of down time.

The evening saw the weekly quiz, and in a closely fought battle it was Think S-Pacifically who came out as winners. After some great questions like “draw a moomin” and solving simultaneous equations, they earned their pack of oreos but forfeited the chance to write the next quiz, handing the responsibility over to The Leaders, possibly a bit of charity knowing they may not get to write another one during the village stay!

anna Fabba (1)

Friday 18th February –

Friday saw the continuation of some pretty poor weather, and it was clear that sport was not going to be on today. The matches were cancelled yet again and rearranged for next Friday.

The build saw the completion of the floor and all doors and windows being hung, just needing the bolts put onto them until the build is finished and it is on with painting. The speed of the build and the quality of the work is of great testament to the hard work and enthusiasm of every member of the Yanuca TP team. Something they can be very proud of.

School was a little haphazard with the apparent disappearance of the teachers, but those in school rallied round and distributed themselves in order to ensure no children missed out on their education for the day. Kindi was its normal wild self and the team have really established themselves there this week, ready and raring to go for next week and continue the success and progress already made.

The evening was the fundraising evening, and with a clever play on words resulting in the evenings proceedings being called “Yanu-ca I got talent!” The acts started strong with Emma, Jenny and Anna teaming up with Lusi and Salome from the village to do a dance. This was followed by the now traditional leader led cinnamon challenge, which was somewhat disappointing due to the people chosen to eat the dessert spoon of cinnamon powder all managed to complete it without much more than a blink! Luckily the next act was the girls traditional Fijian meke, with the village children and all the TP girls demonstrating their local moves. Next up was Nick and Jack doing an upside down cracker eating contest, the winner was Jack just edging out Nick by a couple of crackers. What followed this was nothing less than impressive, but also distinctly disturbing. Andy, AJ, Emille and Tomos forming a group named Fabba. An ABBA tribute with a twist…after a well mimed/sung and danced version of Take a Chance they paused, donned hats and sunglasses and morphed into a version of Bonkers which should probably never be seen again! The crowd went wild and the cameras flashed to make permanent reminders of this sight. This was followed by Tomasi seeing how many people he could clear with a dive forward role, with Jack, Nick, Harriet, Jenny, Vani and Makelesi sat down, he squeezed one more in and made it 7. The finale was a very camped up sing song, with the whole group doing a version of Don’t Stop Believing, I am sorry to say it was more Glee than Journey but amusing none the less.

Alongside the acts, there was food and drinks being sold, a Think Pacific sulu raffled off with a game of heads and tails won by Alyse and Laura’s mum, Ateca. With all the monies in it will be counted over the weekend but suggestions are in that it could be as much as $300 raised. A massive total but short of the $650 needed to shave Tomasi’s head. The visiting villagers from Uluibau and Ovalau seemed impressed with the efforts and the party was soon in full swing with the hop hop going strong and the grog flowing.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Ben’s blog from Batiki

Ben blog profile pics (1) Ben blog profile pics

Hello everyone, my turn for the blog finally. We are currently finishing up on week 4 in the village and I wish I could describe how idyllic and calm this place is. Every night you can watch storms flash their way across the horizon. No one runs anywhere and nobody is ever in a hurry. This place is so relaxed its unreal.

I haven’t seen what other people have written already so I will give a very brief update of the story so far…

Caqalai for 4 days, visited Levuka whilst there which is like a humid spaghetti western. Finally arrived in Yavu village in Batiki and met our families. Everyone seems happy with their family and the food is better than I was expecting. Meals are usually rice, fried fish and bread fruit, or pumpkin curry and cassava.

I am amazed by how tidy the village is, bar from some litter here and there, the lawns are mown once a week, and leaves are raked every day. Homes are very pretty and colourful inside with patterned curtains and woven mats everywhere!

Last week we had a fancy dress night. We tried to get as many of the village to dress up in a “Tribal” themed night which went down a blast. Some of the Fijian girls were dressed in woven palm leaf dresses and the guys with decorated spears and clubs.

So far I have only joined in with one game of rugby before rolling my foot when teaching the kids. Still waiting for it to calm down and I don’t want to risk damaging it any more on the uneven pitch here but I will be ready for the Levuka sevens in week 8.

My family are very nice, I have been on several fishing trips now, but haven’t used the spear gun yet. Hopefully next one I will catch a shark or a nice big sword fish. I have a 14 year old sister (Cherrie), 11 yr old Koli (brother) 4 yr old Koroi (brother) and 3 month old Lichia (brother) and 40 yr old Nem and Ana (Dad and Mum)

I am loving the time here. The build is moving on with the floor and walls going up at a good speed. I just finished my 2 weeks in kindi which has been fantastic fun. Today we finished up with a picnic a little way down the beach with all the kids singing songs having races on body boards and trying to play volley ball. My favourite moment from kindi has to be trying to teach them “stuck in the mud” when I tried to free Eroni. Bryony has a great picture of how a 6’3’’ 18 year old crawls through 4 year olds legs.

Still 4 more weeks in Yavu left and still more to do. There is talk of all the guys shaving all leg and armpit hair for the kindi fundraiser, not to mention what Paskey will/won’t do. Painting the hall, 2 weeks of school teaching, a Rugby 7s tournament and a trip to Levuka next week (week 5) so check your emails!

Ben x

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Jack’s volunteer project in Yanuca, Fiji

jack blog

This is the first time I’ve been able to put any words down on the laptop, its contradicting saying that I haven’t had time in Fiji as it’s a very relaxing way of life for example, this morning we had our morning briefing at 7:45am before we all go off to projects, I had just finished my breakfast at 7:45am, my Fijian mum then tells me to lie down and that the clock is fast; Fijians are not great time keepers.

So it all started back on a very long flight to Nadi, then a bus journey across to Suva then a very wet boat journey to our first destination Caqalai, which is a resort island exactly what you would picture Fiji to be like: sandy beaches, clear sea, beach huts and takes about ten minutes to walk round the whole island. It was a great place to catch up on sleep from all the travelling, play some beach volleyball with some of the locals, experience Fiji culture with grog and a sevu sevu with one of the villages across the sea. One village came over to perform a meke, we got to know them with some help of grog and hop hop then towards the end of the night it turned into a huge water fight when they were about to leave, Fijians celebrate new year’s until January 31st by getting people drenched in water when not expecting it, this then lead onto bigger things with people getting dragged into the sea. After picking some sulu’s and bula shirts up from levuka the nearest town, it was time to head to Yanuca the village to meet our families and start the projects.

It was quite daunting at first, getting the boat to the village you were going to call home for the next 2 months, but the first sight of the village from the boat with the whole village dressed up singing and dancing waiting for you to arrive has got to be one of the best welcomes you will ever get. We then had our sevu sevu, which is a traditional ceremony to welcome you into the village, then Alelia my mum and niko my brother picked up my bags and took me to my home, it’s safe to say I’ve settled in quite well we are currently sprawled out on the floor after eating dinner (vegetable chop suey, having lots of vegetarian meals Rick and Jan you’d love the food, not quite as good as your cooking though Jan). The house is basic but homey, I was surprised to be welcomed to a bigger bed than my own back home.

So far I’ve been on the build for two weeks which was brilliant seeing it all come together, big jack the man in charge is awesome and is great to work with, a 52 year old man with the strength of the wrecking ball, he would often resolve problems with a hit of his fist on that piece of wood that just won’t fit, hammers slow him down, and a lot of the big problems would follow with him saying ‘’get the chainsaw.’’ I’ve now just finished my week at school teaching 7 & 8 with Emma, it was great fun and the kids were awesome well most of them anyway, they would give a lot of respect. Most of the children having to get boats over or walk through low/high tide just to get to school, our walk to school usually takes around 40 minutes through the jungle, through the sea to Motiriki island then a walk down the beach to the school, quite a different start to the day than I’d usually wake up to in Britain.

There’s a few other things that we’ve been up to: a trek up Ruku Ruku which was possible one of my best days here; AJ had her birthday which was celebrated by the whole village having a great feast together;  a fancy dress party personally dressing up as a monkey, me and tomasi have decided is the only thing Fiji is missing is monkeys, jenny dressing up as Tabby Sal which I don’t know if anyway heard about but is a cat who got asked to attend court in America, TP8 are great fans; we’ve been snorkelling and were lucky to see some sharks; fishing with a few people from the village; Sundays are also a highlight to my week having a weekly competition of rock, paper scissors, which I’m currently drawing with Emma and generally catching up with sleep and reading; I’m also loving learning Fijian and have picked up quite a lot; and love coaching sports after school and then playing some rugby with the local boys and we will be having our first fixture soon.

Until next time, love to everyone. Moce, Jack

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

A few gap year highlights from Laura

Laura Blog

Bula everyone from Fiji!!! It was a month ago today that I flew out here, the time has gone extremely fast. I couldn’t decide how to write my blog as there are so many things that I would love to tell everyone therefore I have decided to write down the highlights of my time in Fiji so far.

The first highlight of my trip that is strongly imprinted in my mind is of AJ falling through the bridge on the first day- hilarious. I can remember running to see if she was alright, but when I got there both her legs were through the bridge and she was ready to fall head first into the water. At the time it was scary, however looking back now it was so funny. 

The boat journey to Caqalai where everyone got drenched is one of my favourite moments so far. Everyone was enjoying the smooth boat ride whilst trying to come to terms with the fact that they were finally in Fiji, when we all got absolutely soaking wet! After around 27 hours of travelling we arrived at our destination dripping wet looking like drowned rats (we definitely arrived in style!). 

Snorkelling was a great experience and was one of the things that I was really looking forward to when I came out here. Once I had acclimatised myself to the unusual breathing with a snorkel and swimming with flippers I really enjoyed it. Both the coral and fish were beautiful to look at and easy to get close to. 

The weird transformer bug with glowing eyes that was attracted to Jenny’s mosquito net. Harry attacked it with bug spray which made it fly around the room angrily making the strangest noises. Then we both abandoned Emillie to get help leaving her to defend herself. 

Arriving in Yanuca is definitely something that I will never forget. We were greeted by the whole village standing on the shore singing to us. When we got off of the boat we received flowers and were introduced to everyone in the village. It was a truly beautiful way to be welcomed to our home for the next 8 weeks

Fishing was very fun. Alyse, Eremasi and I floated out to sea on a raft made from bamboo. We were all trying to see the fish using our googles, however both Alyse and I had no luck. Eremasi caught 4 fish with his spear gun, but 1 managed to escape half dead. Even though I never caught anything it was great watching Eremasi diving down and catching the fish without struggle.

Teaching at school was sometimes a very frustrating job, however when the children began to understand it was very rewarding. Coaching dance after class has been very fun too. Getting the children involved in dance was something that I always intended on doing when I came out here and it makes me very happy to see the children enjoying the lessons. The children are so full of life and are very grateful to have us teaching them which makes the experience even more enjoyable.

The build has been a huge highlight during my time in Fiji. When I originally planned my trip I thought that teaching in the school would be the most rewarding but for me it has been the build. By being a part of the project I have been able to see the progress made on the building and to know that I have helped to build a new community hall for the village makes me very happy.

Another major highlight of my trip has to be the climb at Rukuruku. I still cannot believe that I have climbed a mountain. As frustrating and exhausting as the climb up was the view at the top was worth it. Being able to see the mountains around us, the islands on the horizon and the tiny villages hidden in the hills was stunning. The climb down was worth it too as we got to go for a long swim in a fresh water pool. Sliding down the rocks of the waterfall was very fun.

For the next 2 weeks I will be teaching at Kindi and hopefully coaching some more dance classes. Next weekend we are going to Levuka which means that I will be stocking up on treats for the rest of the trip and sending out a few e-mails. We are planning a day to learn some Fijian skills such as mat weaving, a netball match with another village and a fundraiser day to raise money for school sports equipment. Looks like there will be more fun to come.

I hope that everyone at home is well and is enjoying the cold weather while I bake in the sun. A few tips for when I return, fruit would be amazing, sandwiches would be incredible, bangers and mash hmmm and an amazing tuna pasta bake would also go down well!  Thank you for reading my blog. I’ll see you in 6 weeks time.

 All my love Laura xxx