Here’s the huge update from our gap year team in Fiji and a recap of all the amazing achievements and unique memories Batiki Island.
Monday 6th June; Our volunteers start the project with a bang!
It was a start to a new week for our May 2011 gap year team, and our volunteers were well rested after a great Sunday chilling in the village. It was time for our gap year girls to get their wood work skills on! Jimbo our building manager showed them how the make the doors for the toilets and then it was up to our volunteers to finish the rest, they did a great job and by the end of the day they had all completed. Scott, Hywell and Ed were on block work really getting to grips with it, to the point where they fitted a whole toilet block without any help for Jimbo. Jack and our plumber got to work on the pipe work. Rob and Tom were on the iron sheets that go around the toilet blocks which are a very hard process, but they also did a great job.
In School our gap year team were set up to kick off another great week. Amelia finished strongly on Friday and aimed to carry on her success today. This she did, with a tremendous morning of maths and English workshops, the kids and Amelia had certainly earned their lunch-break. The same morning saw Hattie completely bossing classes 7 + 8, with the kids hanging off her every word and itching to learn. They ran through both science and English with relative ease and by lunchtime the children were just waiting for the afternoon’s lessons! James was to take his first solo class today, a class which he absolutely rocked! He started to work on sentences with classes 5+6, a task not to be taken lightly! The results were initially mixed, but with a bit of teaching from James, those who were struggling were whipping out sentences left, right and centre by the end of the day!
With a whole weekend to rest, the kindians were absolutely buzzing today! With the gap team being equally pumped, this was looking ready to be an incredible day. It began with songs and games, which were massively enjoyed by all, including renditions on The Grand Old Duke of York and Three Little Speckled frogs, and extremely energetic games of Duck, Duck, Goose. The kids then settled down to recap on some numbers and learn a few new colours before snack time arrived. Outdoor games followed, with Tails and Bulldogs being the favourites. Arts and crafts saw volunteers and kids alike making either cowboy or Indian hats for the following day.
Tuesday 7th; Gap year team proving an inspiration in the classroom
It was the last day in kindi before the rota change, so our gap year girls were looking to make it a great day for the kids to remember! It started with the kids getting on their cowboy and Indian outfits, which went down a treat. The morning was spent singing song and playing games. Then it was time for kindi sports day. Which was by far the most fun we have seen the kids have I a long time. Sprints, shack race, egg and spoon, relay and many more saw the kids putting all their energy into it.
School was on fire, with James in 5&6 focussing upon maths. Amelia was in full flow with class 1&2; they really have grown to love her. Hattie took time to run through the play that the whole school started practicing on Monday before sports. It’s about Lutusobasoba; the man who they say founded Fiji hundreds of years ago. The kids are relishing the chance to try some drama!
The building volunteer team had another hard and hot day ahead of them, with the foundations for more toilets to be laid. Ed and Tom soldiered on with the foundations while Katinka, Hollie and Anneka set to work on the cross blocks.
Another key job was to finish bricking up the remaining septic tanks; this was a job that Hywell, Jack, Scott and Rob were becoming old hands at, so it was finished and looking good in no time. Just before lunch it was all hands on deck to finish the remaining foundation so it could set for the next day’s team coming in. Our gap year team are really pushing ahead with this project and it’s amazing to see how much is being achieved in such a short time!
Wednesday 8th; Gap year girls steal the show on the building project!
It was the changing of the guard on the building volunteer project, with a girl heavy group they were out to prove they could do it as good as the lads! And boy did they. Hannah, Libby and Alice got straight to work on the frames for the rest of the toilets. Anneka helped Jimbo finish block work on the septic. James was on the plumbing working with our plumber putting together the 4 inch pipes for the septic. Hattie had the tough job of digging out trenches for the water pipes to go in. Katinka and Hollie were on the other septic learning the magic of block work, and building up their guns! Start to a new rota did not disappoint, Jimbo loving is new gap year volunteer crew!
On their first day at school, the new volunteer gap year teachers were both nervous and excited. Ed was heading into class 7+8 and Rob and Scott had class 5+6. Amelia stayed in class 1+2, who were now seeing her as a new teacher, not a volunteer! She started off in true Amelia style with some learning based fun followed by an interactive maths session. Ed got straight to work with taking a maths lesson while Rob and Scott hovered around the classes giving assistance wherever they could. The kids seem to love their new teachers and all our gap volunteers feel this could be the start of an incredible rota.
The kindi volunteer team for this rota consisted of newbie gap volunteers Tom, Naomi and Jack along with Sarah, who stayed on from the last rota. It was down to Sarah to show the boys the ropes. Within 10 minutes they were sat with the kids for Lego time, building all sorts of vehicles and structures. The day then progressed into songs and games, followed by break-time and outdoor games. Having massively enjoyed their first day, the new gap team were definitely looking forward to tomorrow!
Thursday 9th; Kindergarten kids having a blast!
Kindi today was rocking! With the new leaders badge introduced as a prize for improvement, the kids were all vying for first place on the points chart. The day started with a kindi welcome for Naomi, with the kids standing in 2 lines as she entered the door, they sang the Good Morning Song and clapped her in. Songs and games then kicked into action. The kindi Learning element saw Jack and Tom’s brilliantly crafted rainbow put to good use as the kids excitedly screamed out colours.
With songs in full swing, the mood was one of tense anticipation for the upcoming round of musical bumps! Eroni, our reigning champion, pulled through to win it, learning some killer moves from Jack along the way. The afternoon it was time to run through the weeks learning activities to make sure the kids were making progress. They are really starting to come to terms with numbers, which will put them in good stead for going into school next year.
It was a boiling hot day on the building volunteer project so it was water and sun cream at the ready. The gap year team really pushed through the build even with the baking heat. Anneka and Hywell were working on the timber frames for the lids of the septic. Hollie and Katinka continued to work on the blocks around the septic finishing it off at the end of the day with big hugs all round. The rest of the team had the great job of digging the trenches out for the lengths and lengths of pipe work that is going to be fitted throughout the village.
On just the second day of school, Ed had fitted completely into his role in classes 1+2. He took a very successful maths lesson in the morning, teaching the kids about the area of circles and cylinders, and then progressed on to making signs for the school compound in the afternoon. Amelia once again rocked classes 1+2, taking the kids outside to collect objects of different colours. The kids thrived on the mix of competition, physical exercise and learning! In 5+6, Scott and Rob organised a lesson on mosquitoes, combining their skills to deliver a fun and informative session that the kids thoroughly enjoyed. Rob sat with class 5 during English, while Scott helped class 6 with their imaginative writing.
Friday 10th; Last big push for our building volunteers
As Friday is a half day the gap year team wanted to really push the building volunteer project ahead. Hulk (Hywell) and Anneka worked on the base for one of the toilets, Hannah and Hollie were on to creating Fracas boards around the top of the toilets which truly is a hard thing to master. Libby and Katinka were digging out the last trench. Hattie, James and Alice were on the plumbing putting in the pipe work for the toilets, which has to be done right for if there are any leaks it’s deep under the ground and would be a hard job to fix. After a check over by our plumber it had been done perfectly! Week finished and it was time for a nap on the beach before the walk over the hill to school.
Gap volunteers launch a careers event for Batiki Island School!
With a careers day planned for the afternoon (a tremendous idea to bring to Batiki School by our volunteers!) our gap year team had to fit all their mind moulding into one morning! Ed gave a complicated maths lesson to class 7+8 while Scott and Rob continued with their English lessons. Amelia took the kids for music, the taught them ‘ing’ words, resulting in the whole class ‘spinning’ and being extremely dizzy! After lunch, part one of the careers event began with some of our career break volunteers and local Fijians talking about their jobs and the training involved to be teachers, builders, nurses and other professions within Fiji. Some great inspiration for the children, who came away talking of their future aspirations.
That night it was time for Amelia’s birthday party and what a party it was!
Saturday 11th; Gap year sports competitions – TP v’s Yavu
It is a beautiful Saturday morning and our gap year team woke up to one of their biggest challenges of their project, the girls at 2.00pm will be playing netball against the yet unbeaten Yavu village and the lads will be playing rugby against the same village. The morning was spent running through last minute drills. It was then time for a big lunch then on the boats to motor across to the school pitch.
Gap girls in a closely contested netball match against some incredibly competition!
Our girls kicked for the netball with a great start, knocking the Yavu ladies back with their skills learnt from home, we had mistress from class 7&8 doing great work scoring all over the place. At half time our gap year girls were ahead 8-7. The second half started well again for our girls but 5 minutes in the Yavu ladies found their feet and were back doing what they do best. Their height and strength really came good in the last 7 minutes and the beat our girls 15-11. It was a great game and the girls are all saying they want a rematch. I think so!!
Rugby boys have an incredible triumph against Yavu!
It was then the lads turn to get ready for the big game. To say the least playing in your first Fijian rugby game can be scary, but our gap year guys were pumped and ready, the game kicked off and everyone was straight it, the first half was some of the best rugby yet on Batiki. The team were so equal it made for a tight first half; jack did some great cover work at full back to make sure the Yavu lads didn’t get through. First half score 0-0.
The second half the pace of the game didn’t slow up, but it got more physical to say the least. A slip in our back line saw Rex from Yavu slip threw and with a nice kick he won the sprint and scored. This did not but the boys down, Hywell and Scott in front row did great work working the ball up the field and Tom was bossing the lineouts. This lead to a great set play down the line to our Fijian number 8 Knox. His great pace took him over the line, he was about to dive but saw the lads screaming “between the posts!!” and set the ball down right in-between them, the ball was kicked putting TP and Manuku ahead 7-5. James came on at wing and had a few brilliant runs at the line only to be taken out by the Fijian lads, but he had no-fear all over his face. Yavu nearly scored in the last minute but it was turned over as the time went red and kicked out long and hard by Ray. Manuku and TP’s Gap Year Boys win!!
Fundraiser evening for the kindergarten school
That night it was time for the Kindi fundraiser. Our gap year team had organised a Bingo and raffle night. With sweets and popcorn for sale at the back. With Scott calling the numbers it was great fun all night and the Ratu and Eroni winning the raffle, calls of “fix” were shouted around in laughter. $117.55 was raised for the Kindi which will go towards more books and materials. Truly it was a great day all round, with rematches next week it’s not over yet!!
Sunday 12th; Time for some Fijian rest and relaxtion!
The team really needed this day, after a great week of practice for the school play, sports, build, school and Kindi it was time to sit in the hammocks by the beach and think on a fab week that has passed. And what to bring to the next week.
Monday 13th; Gap volunteers go the extra mile on a bank holiday
It’s a testament to the motivation of our May 2011 gap year team, than even on a National Holiday, our gap volunteers come into school and kindi to organise additional activities and plan their lessons ahead! As it was the Queens 2nd birthday it was a public holiday in Fiji, the kindi gap year team arrived with just one kindian, Feania! After running village to village to let the kids know kindi was still rocking it wasn’t long before we had a full kindi. The guys were straight into the songs and games after circle time, duck duck goose being the kids favourite. Real focus today was on letters and names. New kindi folders have been brought in, so now when the kids do great work the team can put them in the folders so the next team coming in can see progress and are not starting from scratch. First day of the week in kindi and another really productive start by our gap volunteers.
School was still of done to the public holiday, but it showed how much Scott, Rob,Ed and Amelia want the last day on rota to rock by coming across to prep for current affairs day next week!
On yet another baking hot day, the gap team were determined to absolutely smash the building volunteer project. Hattie and Anneka got straight to work measuring and cutting timber for the frame of a toilet cubicle while Libby, Hollie and Katinka climbed once again into the pit and finished the brick work. Hulk, James and Hannah helped Jimbo fit the septic tank. Yet another massive effort from this gap year rota’s builds team.
Tuesday 14th; Current Affairs Lesson a great introduction to the school volunteer projects
For classes 5, 6, 7 and 8 today was the first current affairs lesson taken by our gap year volunteers, this saw the students reading and analysing articles from various Fijian newspapers. With so little access to the outside world, this insight into other nations is an intriguing concept for the students and they are fascinated by the unique world view beyond their tiny little island!
In class 1 and 2 Amelia was once again doing an amazing job. Master Vili has his work cut out trying to keep up with her as the kids follow her about the class and do all they can for her attention.
In school today the team were set and ready to rock. With Rob and Scott in 5+6 they took a class each and helped the kids with maths and English. Class 7+8 were lucky enough to have Ed as their teacher and were benefitting massively from it. He took them in the morning for a maths lesson on the volume and then assisted with a Social science lesson.
As it was the last day in kindi, the KW2 team (as they named themselves!) were ready to rock with an animal related sports day. The day started as usual with circle time followed by songs and games. Then came the fun! There were all sorts of events, ranging from Tug of Snake to a Jungle relay, closely followed by a competitive crab race! At the end of the day, both kindians and team alike were extremely tired, but very happy bunnies!
On the last day on the build for rota 2, the gap year girls wanted to put a big push on for Jimbo, our building legend. Anneka, Hattie and Libby were working on the last frame for the toilets. Katinka and Hollie were helping Jimbo with one of the septics, whilst James and Hulk worked on the trenches for the waste pipes. Very hot day but the team still put on the great show have done from the start. That night it was time to chill to a movie, die hard 3 the choice. Went down a storm with the Fijians! Boom!!
Wednesday 15th; New gap year volunteers arrive in school and Kindi!
As the first day in the school for the new gap year teachers, nerves were high. However within a few minutes of going into the classes, they felt right at home. Jack stepped in to take 7+8 and was immediately involved in a rather complicated maths lesson, followed by a study of human anatomy. In 5+6, Alice took over the mantle and got to work helping out in an English lesson while Amelia remained in 1+2 to work her magic. The afternoon saw lessons finishing at half 2 for play rehearsal.
The new kindi volunteer team came in with a mix of excitement and nerves. With a plan laid out by the previous gap team, they were straight into action with Lego time! This was followed by circle time, when the team got a chance to learn all the kindians names and introduce themselves before the upcoming song and game time! As the kids showed the new team their impressive song repertoire, a mutual sense of excitement was brewing… next up was Duck, Duck, Goose! After snack time a long game of tails kicked off, resulting in some very tired kindians ready for sleeping lions. A brilliant start to the new rota!
It was the start of a new last rota for the gap year team on the build too, so it was game faces on and time to rock the volunteer project! Libby, Hannah and Anneka worked of the last of the septic lids for a few of the Fijian lads helping along the way. Sara and Naomi started work on the trenches for the water main. Tom was helping with the plumbing knocking through the block wall of a septic to put the waste pipes in. Hulk was doing his thing helping all around the build settling on the trench digging at the end. Epic first day on the last rota for build.
In the afternoon the team started the complete run through of the play with the school kids. To say the last it looked unreal. For something that these kids have never see or done before they have fallen into it like old pro’s. The scene change was a bit slow but that will be worked on over the next two days. Game time, Friday 3.30pm.
That night it was time for Fijian bracelet and bilo making. The team having to cut threw some coconuts to get the right shape then sand them down until they are nice a smooth. The Fijian ladies were there to weave some lovely rings and around the just made bracelets.
Thursday 16th; Big push for our gap year builders and volunteers hit their stride in school
Day 2 on the last rota of Kindi and the guys have settled on well. Tired kids and team all round. Great day in kindi.
School was another day in the office for Amelia, working her magic with the weaker kids on their English. Alice is really finding her feet in classes 5&6 working on dates and months of the year, with more current affairs in the afternoon, which is proving a real hit with the kids. Jack is really loving 7&8 and leading biology lessons.
As the second day of the build loomed, the gap year building team were psyching themselves up for a massive effort! Lots of measuring and cutting and plastering awaited our gap volunteers!
Friday 17th; Alice’s birthday and a huge day for Batiki District School
This Friday will turn out to be a very special day in Think Pacific history. But first celebrations! Starting off the day it is Alice’s birthday, with cake in the morning we knew there was going to be one immense party that night. The gap year building team got off to a great start to the half day, pushing hard to get all the sceptics finished. The rest of the team then moved on to digging the rest of the trenches needed for the water pipes and with our gap volunteers in the zone, the pipes were getting fitted as fast as they were being dug!
In kindi it was Katinka and Hollies’ last day, so the kindians were determined to make sure they weren’t forgotten. The team had made instruments the previous day, so these were dished out to the kids for song time, resulting in a lot of noise and laughter all round! The focus then turned to numbers, and by the end the older kids seemed to have it nailed. After snack time it was time for some heavy exercise in the form of tails and bulldog! The day ended with sleeping lions and story time, then the kids singing a goodbye song to the team.
Then it was onto the big event, Batiki District Schools First ever play!..