Archive for April, 2011

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Volunteer project diary – week one from our volunteer projects on Moturiki

Moturiki April 11 - Week 1 - Build

Tuesday 19th April –

Withthe volunteer projects all set to start tomorrow morning, today was a chance for our gap year team to prepare, going through the build plans immediately after briefing as we look to extend the community hall to build a kindergarten, and also replace the collapsed bridge that goes across the creek. The team then had their personal project planning discussions with the leaders to find out which areas they may look to focus upon, before heading down to the school and kindergarten after lunch. A sevusevu was presented in Navuti, a village that the team will be walking through daily, before also presenting our sevusevu at the school. With the school committee building a new teachers quarters the traditional ceremony took place for the cementing of the first post, again a custom for the team to become immersed in so quickly. We also stopped at the kindergarten to meet the teacher Laisa and talk through ideas for the theatre of dreams! In the evening we then came together to set out the rotas and sports to be coached, and the team are set and ready to rock for a big first day on project tomorrow!


Moturiki April 11 - Week 1 - School (3)

Wednesday 20th April

The volunteer team were finally able to put their greatly appreciated enthusiasm into action today as all areas of project began.

Ann, Rob, Katie, Miranda and Billy kick started the kindi mayhem with lots of songs, games and plenty of crayola! The five volunteers were able to get to know the children as they came from various villages on Moturiki; all raring to go with the kindi adventure.

Tom, Sarah, Ellie and James stepped into their teaching roles with ease. Sarah helped class 3 with maths, English and health science. Tom used arts and crafts as a great way to get to know the children by making name plates for each desk, paint and glitter was flying everywhere! Eliie and James descended upon a large, combined class 6, 7 and 8, assisting Master Mika, starting their teaching rota with beloved fractions!

Our building manager, Jack was very happy with the start and the commitment of the team as the work on the community hall extension began. Mixing cement and digging holes for posts was the name of the game for the building team and everyone was quick to be involved with every aspect to enable the blessing of the first post to take place. True Tpers!

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The MDS children were ecstatic to have the sports coaching volunteer proejcts once again with the team. Cricket, football, rugby, boxing, netball and rounders were the sports chosen for the afternoon and the team quickly found their feet and great progress was being made with all year groups. 

As the children returned home, the team took to the sports field once more to see Paskey’s PPP team take great victory in rounders, before the boys joined the village with a fast game of rugby.

Nasesara extended their warm welcome to the team with yet another evening of grog and the madness of hop hop. The guitars were quickly out which meant with little hesitation the ladies were throwing talcan powder over the team and the dancing soon began into the evening.

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Thursday 21st April

The building volunteer team began where they left off yesterday with high spirits as they completed all the holes ready for the posts. The majority of the posts were concreted which meant the team has set a good, steady pace to follow for the rest of project.

The kindi crew, now feeling more settled, were able to implement their structure a little more today and introduced new songs such as “10 Green Bottles” and art time was full of paints for an “under the sea” display.

James and Ellie’s main focus with the older children was teaching a song, “Walking in the light of God” for the fundraiser next week. Classes 6, 7 and 8 loved this and were split into harmonies and were clapping away! Over in class 3, Sarah was teaching opposite words in English which had a great response from the children while Tom’s main focus for the day in class 4 was addition.

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The building team arrived at MDS to start sport for the afternoon with the rest of the volunteers. Alun and Rob covered some fielding techniques with an excitable and large class 5 and 6 while Adam, Anthony, Billy and Matt went through the basics of tackling with 7 and 8. James, Calum, Henry and Tom took class 3 and 4 with a station each to focus the learning. Georgie, Katie, Ellie and Miranda were delighted with the standard of netball players in the older girls while Ann, Mia, Sarah and Julia took charge of the youngest children in rounders with some great pass and follow competitions!

The team enjoyed a game of football with Nasauvuki village boys and of course Master Mika before an afternoon of touch and of course hop hop into the evening with Billy as our Ratu for the evening!

Moturiki April 11 - Week 1 - School (1)

Friday 22nd April

After morning briefing today, the team sat down to discuss their coaching plans for the week ahead in netball, rounders, football, rugby and cricket. Following this, we joined the village for the Good Friday service in church; sharing beautiful singing and sermons.

Due to the Fijian public holiday, no project took place today; instead competitive streaks came out during exciting games of Mafia (a TP favourite) in the hall. Mia was definitely the one who came out on top killing those around her! The girls soon congregated together for a Royal Wedding sticker club before dinner!

After a week of non-stop hop hop, the volunteer team had a relaxing evening in the hall watching Dodgeball, what a classic! This was a favourite amongst the children who were giggling away throughout! An early night was had by all, raring to go for the weekend’s activities.

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Saturday 23rd April

The first Saturday in the village was very much a family affair as the volunteers went their separate ways, engaging in everyday Fijian life. 

Miranda, Katie and Ellie were lucky enough to be guests at a wedding at the nearby village, Yanuca. The girls had a great time and felt very fortunate to be part of something so culturally different to what they are accustomed.

The rest of the team either visited their family’s plantation or went spear and line fishing for their evening’s dinner. Julia was very excited to eat her catch of the day

Following a truly memorable morning for the team, they came together with the village for a volleyball tournament. The team’s competitive streaks were shown once again as they came across the experienced Fijians. Within a matter of time, the rain soon began to fall which certainly did not stop play! Those that were not on court soon joined in with the children dancing and sliding in the rain; Anthony was the triumphant winner of the sliding competition, very closely followed by Alun. It was hard to tell who was enjoying the sliding more; the children or the volunteers? Once everyone was dried off and fed, what else was there to be done but bring out the guitars and hop hop the night away?

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Sunday 24th April

The team joined the village for their Easter Sunday service this morning before relaxing and reflecting on their first week in Nasesara village.

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Batiki gap year team enjoy a Fijian fancy dress party

Photos of our five week gap year team partying the night away on their Fijian Island..

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Batiki gap year team – Jade’s volunteering project in Fiji

Jade blog pic


After arriving two weeks ago now I already feel at home in Fiji. The locals are some of the friendliest I have ever met; the food acquires some getting used to… ‘heavy carbs’ is an underestimation! But we have certainly indulged in some lovely cuisine!

After arriving we headed to our castaway Island which allowed us to relax into Fiji time, snorkel and mix together as a group.

We’ve been living in Batiki for just over a week now; my family are lovely and my house is luxury to what I was expecting.

I’ve participated in Kindi, netball coaching and have today been helping out as a classroom assistant in the local primary school. I’ve also been helping out with the renovation of the village church; I’ve surprised myself in my plastering and painting skills!

I have to say Batiki is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and I’m delighted to say I’m a part time resident! I’m looking forward to what the next two weeks volunteering offer…

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Moturiki gap year blogs – Ann’s first thoughts of Fiji

Ann's gap year Fiji blog

Fiji – this place is magical. Wonderful. Incredible. Breath-taking. Heaven.

You could think of every amazing descriptive word in the dictionary and someone will have used it to describe Fiji. Yet to really make someone understand this place, you struggle with words to make it compare. It really is… amazing.

I’m not just talking about the white beaches, the palm trees and the heat, because what makes people come back to Fiji time after time, and why they have their hearts here – is the people. Their smiles make your heart melt and their laughs make your sides split, while they also make you feel like this has been your home for years. For me, making me feel welcome is the biggest gift they could give me, and considering our first week, it’s like they wrapped it up, stuck a huge bow on it and covered it in glitter. Priceless.

The team got to bond, although we were all pretty close anyway, in the sea in Caqalai. Our first stop of the trip. We had got there by boat. But by boat I mean one of the tiniest boats I have ever set foot in, and I LOVED it. The waves either side, the clear blue sea, my team sitting opposite me and the sun beating down. Magical. We did a variety of things in Caqalai like chilling… eating… bonding… chilling… eating… bonding… oh! and obviously the volleyball tournament, the snorkelling trip, the quiz night, watching a meke, grog and hop hop, the trip to Levuka,  presentation from the government officials, meeting the chief of Moturiki… you know, just the usual really!

After four days there we prepared for our departure to Nasesara. But none of us could be ready for what lay round the corner…

The Cere. Something only some Fijians will see a couple of times in their lifetime, and we weren’t just watching it, we were in it. The Cere is where, as we come up to the village in the boats, all the unmarried men in the boats jump out and swim to the shore when they hear the sound of the conch, a big shell that gets blown. When they swim to the shore all the women in the village will be standing on the shoreline, one of whom will have a whales tooth round her neck. As the guys get to the shore the women run around and hide and the men have to find the woman with the whales tooth, and when they get to her they have to drink a big bowl of grog and then they have won the whales tooth. The whales tooth is one of the most valuable gifts you can give someone and to win one in such a way is HUGE. So much so that the press came to watch, take pictures and interview the winner, which was… drum roll… James! No outsiders have ever been allowed to take part in one and to say our leader Harry was excited is an understatement, he was like a kid at Christmas!

It was a phenomenal way to start our time here and we’re going to repay the effort they have put in by being the best team Moturiki has ever seen! That’s right, I went there.

My family is like heaven. They are the loveliest human beings I have ever met. So full of joy, and just always happy to have you around. I have a little sister called Kelera and my mum is called Merlita and my dad, Samao. My dad is also one of the church elders so is never dancing at the hop hop but our language barrier always makes me laugh! We all get on really well. I wasn’t culture shocked when I got here but the only real thing I have struggled with is the food, because I THOUGHT I wasn’t fussy, but it turns out I am. Nightmare. I’m sticking it out though and to be honest I have tried things I have never had before like crab, whole fish etc. and it’s not been too bad!

We’ve not been too busy this week, just been trying to find some sort of routine around the projects and finding a routine in home lives too. I live in the last house at the very top of the hill, I’m thinking my bum will be nice and toned by the end of this trip, so making sure I give myself enough time to get home, have a wash, wash my clothes and have dinner is something I’m trying to get used to, but it’s taking a whole lot of effort.  I found a new pet in my room the other night, Benjamin the river dancing rat… I actually don’t mind him being in the walls at all, just that he doesn’t stop scurrying around at night when I’m trying to get to sleep, hence the nickname! 

Also, I have an injury, I shall commence the story; Ann is running late for the debrief, and the rain is the heaviest it has been all week. The village has a LOT of frogs everywhere because it has so much water and they are all over the path. Ann has managed to make it down the hill avoiding all the frogs.  Ann gets to the last house before the hall for the debrief and there lies a frog. A frog that will not move. That is until she walks past it and as she puts her foot down it hops under it. Therefore, freaking  Ann out at the squished frog under her foot. She jumps and swings her leg out and hits her foot off a sheet of metal and slices her three toes open. Unaware of this however she continues to run to the hall where the frog continues to chase after her, almost in anger at being stood on. As she runs into the hall it continues to hop after her as she screams at the team waiting on her and the boys see an ample opportunity. Frog punting. Billy hits the frog so hard it flies out the window and lands on the path outside on the other side of the building. Meanwhile Ann is dragging blood around the hall from her toe… Oh, what a night. Don’t worry though Doctor Johnston has it all under control.

I could write so much more, but I don’t have time to write a book when hop hop is about to commence in approximately 10 minutes.. I’m having the time of my life here and I love it. Before hop hop though I’m going to help finish the William and Kate wedding sticker book – that’s right, SOMEONE ELSE LOVES THE WEDDING!! Heaven. Paskey and I have decided staying up late and watching it on telly is the only way forward – she even brought over flags, masks and crowns so we can have a wedding day celebration at Kindi and School next week! Just amazing. But before I get too excited and go on about my love for the royals, I must go. The sticker book is calling…

Love to you all, anna (ann scarr) x

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Gap year blogs from Batiki – Life in Mua village by Nick

Nick Blog Pic

The village of Mua is unlike any community I have ever experience before. It is that word ‘community’ that is important, as it has come to perfectly encapsulate every aspect of Fijian life that I have encountered during my short time here.  Fijian hospitality is famous, but nothing can quite prepare you for the sacrifices that Fijians are willing to make to accommodate your stay, from the giving up of a bed to the sharing of food.  It has taken just a matter of days to feel completely comfortable within the environment I now live, a testament to the family I live with, but also to the Fijians as whole.

For the past week I have been helping to repair the church building. Definite progress has been made, with large sections of plastering having been completed and old timbers removed. However much is still left to do, especially on the roof which requires giant wooden structures of scaffolding to be built which require a lot of time and energy. The building phase has been a baptism of fire for many of the volunteers, myself included, however most are starting to relish the new challenges as they progressively become more comfortable with the new skills and knowledge they are quickly acquiring.

The nature of the work means that the church has inadvertently become the centre of attention for the villagers, but it is important to remember that work going on in school and in kindi. At the end of each day the builders see exhausted volunteers walking back to the village being followed by ecstatic children, evidence of the hard work being done in both sections. Saki, the ten-year old that I live with, said that he loves having volunteers in the class as it makes school less boring, which I guess is exactly the point of why we are here.

The sports coaching has been a mixed bag of carnage and learning in healthy measures of both. Alternating days between the younger and older children, definite progress has been seen by the volunteers. I have been coaching rugby with Matt and Struan and we have been amazed at how quickly the children pick up some of the concepts. Simply by organising them into drills, a novelty for most of them, their natural talents flourish and we can coach them things they would have never have picked up on otherwise.

On a personal note, being able to play touch-rugby everyday with the locals from Mua and other villages has been a great to way to let off steam and bond with the villagers at the end of the day. Keeping up can be tough at times, where more often than not tactics are replaced with out-and-out flare, but it’s been fun.

Fijian customs are experienced everyday, from the saying of Grace to the drinking of Grog. Throughout however there has been the constant guiding hand of the Fijians. Both humble and helpful, it has been touching to see how eager they are to ingratiate us into society, always quick to explain procedures and to get us involved in daily activities. The past weekend saw members of the team cooking, line and spear fishing, visiting the copra plantations and celebrating Palm Sunday, all under the supervision of the Fijians.

I cannot think of how I could get more involved in the community, which is another testament to the way the Fijians treat visitors. Sinking to cliché, we are one big family, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.


Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

A trek to the peak of Batiki Island

Batiki is famous across Fiji as being one of the most beautiful islands of the Lomaiviti group, if not Fiji itself.  the island, shaped like a giant whales tale, is fringed by white sand beaches and swaying palms. The interior rises up to a peak, and the view from the top, overlooking the reefs is fabulous.  A trek to the peak of the island is a popular activity for any Think Pacific gap year team to the island. Here are some photos of our April 2011 volunteers as they take a break from volunteering to explore their Fijian paradise.