Archive for October, 2011

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Memories of volunteering in Daku village, Fiji

gap year volunteer memories (1) gap year volunteer memories (7)

It’s always amazing to see how many of our past volunteers continue to keep a place in their heart for the Fiji Islands, keep in touch with their friends and family in the village, or organise their own journeys back to their Fijian communities, long after their project has ended. There’s something very special about Fijian life, which keeps people connected to this beautiful place and the amazing people.

We recently recieved an email from one of our past volunteers, Hanna Martindale, who volunteered in Fiji with Think Pacific two years ago. Receiving an email from Hanna out of the blue, was a lovely surprise. The timing seemed especially fitting as the village where Hanna lived, Daku, has been chosen by the Council and the Fijian Ministry as the location of our January 2012 volunteer team to Fiji too!

We can’t wait to return to Daku and spend ten weeks in this incredible community, which a few lucky TP volunteers get to call home and where our January 2012 gap year volunteers will soon call their Fijian home too.  So with Hanna’s permission, we thought we’d share her email and a few photos of her time in Daku for all of our January 2012 team, who will  soon be arriving to the shores of Moturiki.

Hi Simon

Long time no speak! How are you? I was just sitting at work on my lunch break when Fiji suddenly popped into my head (this happens quite a lot!) and I cant believe that it has been 2 years since my expedition. I have just looked on your new website and so I just wanted to say how brilliant it is. I can’t believe how much has gone on and how think pacific has grown from strength to strength, its amazing! I couldnt be happier!

I still receive letters from my family in Daku which is absolutely lovely, I love hearing from them, it brings a smile to my face every time and I always write a long letter back and send over some treats! I hope that this continues forever. Anyway say hi to the team from me, I hope that you are all well. Think Pacific and Fiji was and still is a trip of a life time and I am always thinking about it and constantly looking through my photo book of my time there!

All the best,

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Nasesara update!

Nasesara hall (1) Nasesara hall (3)

We thought all of our April 2011 Think Pacific volunteers would appreciate seeing a few new pictures of the community centre in Nasesara. When our volunteer team extended the Nasesara community hall, allowing space for the village kindergarten classes as part of their expedition objectives back in April 2011, we needed to raise the floor from that of the original community hall to create the extension. Since the team left, the community have worked incredibly hard to fund and develop this project further and ensure the floor is also raised to the same level of the kindergarten.  The final result looks incredible! It’s down to the hard work of both the team and their project funding, which enabled the whole project to be possible and the subsequent passion and dedication of the community, which now means that generations ahead have the use of the fantastic community centre.

The community of Nasesara wanted us to pass their continued thanks to you all, and everyone hopes to see you back ‘home’ in the Fiji Islands soon.


The tp team from Nasesara

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Gap Year Volunteering: Week five from our sports, youth and building projects!

Going into week five means that our volunteers start their third and final Rota on the school and kindi volunteering projects.  With some excellent classes taught in both elements of the projects to date, no one was about to let that standards slip. With three out of the four teachers going into MDS having spent last week in kindi, this gave them a chance to go across into school in the afternoon to get a feel for the classes they would soon be leading themselves. Having already spent a week and a half teaching class 4, Will decided that he would like to continue at least one more week in there as he has saw some excellent progress with his lessons and has formed a real bond with the kids. Bertie spent a few afternoons helping Charlotte in class 5 & 6 last week and so was well prepared for what was in store. He easily picked up were Charlotte left off which is no mean feat and settled into his new role as a teacher really well. In true Scottish style some of his lessons could be heard at the other side of the school complex!

Angela and Lucy also braved the task of taking on classes 7 & 8 with the help of Master Mika. Again having spent a few afternoons in this class the previous week both were soon in control of the class much to the delight of Master Mika. After Amy had introduced these classes to their selected speech for the public speaking element of the house cup competition, Angela and Lucy then decided to go further into the meaning and purpose of Martin Luther King’s speech with some excellent history classes which the children and even Master Mika found very insightful. The next two weeks are sure to be of huge benefit to the kids of MDS with another wide range of lessons coming from all our teachers and their wide and varied knowledge. To finish the week off both our school and kindi teachers took part in the house quiz with one volunteer joining each of the houses and answering questions set by the team leaders.  Will, Bertie, Angela and Johnny all joined their respective houses and in the end Kikau came away comfortable winners. No doubt will be out to impress in next week’s quiz.

This week saw Johnny, Polly and Sarah taking on the task of controlling up to 25 kids in kindi. Having already spent the first Rota in there, Sarah and Polly knew what to expect so Johnny soon settled in and having been in class 4 had a good idea of how energetic these Fijian kids can be. Again some new songs were introduced in circle time and the teachers came up with some great new ways to help the kids learn colors, shapes and numbers. In arts and crafts it was decided to create a wall display of a huge fruit bowl which everyone had a great fun making. The work done by all our teachers in kindi is clear to see with the improvement in each of the kids abilities in every subject.

Having spent the entire first two Rota’s on the build, Ollie was quick to help Amy, Memphis and Charlotte settle into a rhythm. This week’s aims were to complete the walling and continue with the flooring. With one pod outside helping Jack the walling was finished by Tuesday afternoon which brought about a real sense of completion about the building. Everyone could then concentrate on the flooring and by midweek Ollie and Charlotte were laying the final boards to the left side of the floor and then set about making the four doors and thirteen windows needed. Memphis and Amy showed some excellent skill in continuing the right side of the floor and if they keep this pace up will have the entire floor complete by early next week. While working away everyone still manages to have some fun on the build singing along to favorites being played on the local radio stations or sometimes being belted out by leaders Ray and Ronnie.

On Friday night neighbouring village Niubasaga  paid the team a visit to see the hall and join them in grog and hop hop. A great night was had by everyone, with most of the team staying up until midnight as their love for hop hop grows every week much to the delight of the village. Early next morning it was onto the boats for a well deserved trip to Fiji’s old capital Levuka. Here everyone stocked up on treats for themselves and sent a few emails home on what will be their last chance until we reach the mainland in three weeks. On their return to the village a few of our gap year volunteers joined some of the village boys on another night fishing trip which again was an awesome experience and one which is sure to be repeated before the end of this project.

Monday, October 24th, 2011

TP volunteers compete in the Moturiki Island netball and rugby games

Volunteers Fiji netball and rugby (18)

Due to some bad weather both these games were postponed on Saturday the 15th but were soon rescheduled for midweek as everyone was eager to play them. First up were our girls playing netball. Their game against Navuti was fixed for Tuesday afternoon after sports coaching. As Wawa play in the same club as Nasesara, this meant the girls would be defending the TP Cup as Nasesara are current holders. The game got off to a flying start with both teams exchanging points on a regular basis and some great end to end plays. This was a real credit to our girls as some had never played netball before and had only two Fijians in the team, B and Una. With B on top scoring form the teams went in level at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter continued were the first left off and ended with just a point separating the sides. Our team then made the brave move of taking off one of the Fijian ladies and so fielded a team of 6 of our girls. This meant Polly, Lucy, Amy, Angela, Charlotte and Leader Alice would have to work extra hard to keep themselves in the game with Sarah waiting eagerly to come on as a replacement at any time. With some excellent defending and cross field play both teams again went in at the end of the third quarter on level terms. This left all to play for in the final quarter and with Una and Sarah back on fresh the team had high hopes of a win. Again the teams exchanged scores but unfortunately Navuti just managed to edge away and were a mere 4 points ahead at the final whistle. Obviously disappointed there was an instant shout for a rematch as our girls felt with a little more training and a game together under their belts they could overturn Navuti at the next time of asking. The game will be fixed for the following week and we will be sure to keep you updated on the result.

Volunteers Fiji netball and rugby (13)

Next up on Wednesday afternoon it was the turn of the boys who were playing Nasauvuki in a challenge game before they get their shot at taking the TP Cup off Niubasaga in a few weeks. These two villages technically play together in the same club so this will give our guys a good insight for what to expect in the Cup game in a few weeks. Bertie was named captain for the day and took up his position as open side flanker with Johnny playing blindside flanker. They also had Leader Lulu playing number 8 and Leaders Ray and Ronnie took their positions in the backs, Ray playing 10 and Ronnie on the wing. It was a perfect evening for a game and a great crowd had turned out to support both sides. The game got off to a flying start but unfortunately it was Nasauvuki who got on the score sheet first with a penalty in an easy position. They also got the second score of the game and managed to squeeze through our defense for a try. Although this wasn’t converted it left our boys on the back foot from the start. This didn’t seem to faze them and after some great attacks we were soon on the score sheet too with a penalty from Johnny 15 minutes in. After that both teams managed to cancel each other out with some great defensive work for most of the rest of the half although Nasauvuki did manage to kick another penalty before the break which left our boys trailing 11 points to 3 at the break. After the restart Nasauvuki’s defense was really tested with wave after wave of attacks which soon paid off with a well deserved try. Although the conversion was missed it still left only 3 points between the sides. Johnny then kicked a further penalty but unfortunately Nasauvuki slotted home another couple of their own and edged away near the end of the game. With 10 minutes left our boys threw everything they had at them but just couldn’t manage to break through and so the game ended 21-11. It was a great first game for our boys which everyone truly enjoyed and with some big hits as is standard in Fijian rugby there are sure to be a few sore bodies in the morning. In keeping with the spirit of the game both teams then went to Navuti for dinner which was laid on by the village and a few bowls of grog and hop hop. A great night was had by everyone and some of the team partied until late into the night before walking home. Both these games have ensured that the double header in a couple of weeks is sure to be a great day for everyone involved.

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Gap Year Volunteering in Fiji: Week four from Wawa village

Everyone started this week on the build due to school and kindi being closed for Fiji Day. This meant a huge push was put on the walling and flooring from the start of the week with some of the team also helping Jack build the 3 sets of steps needed into the community hall. Working together in pods means everyone gets a chance to work with each member of the team and also get a chance to try all the different skills needed on the build. This has brought about an excellent standard of work to the delight of Jack and the team leaders. With the main building structure now complete, and having shot up so quickly, the building volunteers attention now turns to the trickier bits of the building project and the attention to detail needed when fitting the walling and flooring. This week the team managed to almost complete the walling and lay  just under half the flooring, which was a huge amount of work. This means we are well on our way to completing the building on time.

This week’s lessons took on an animal theme in kindi in the build up to Friday’s theme day which was ‘jungle theme’. Angela and Bertie started out by teaching the kids the names of a few animals and then introduced the B.I.N.G.O song which everyone loved. With a few outside games threw in to help keep the 18 or so kids entertained it was soon Friday and time to make their jungle day display. As usual in kindi this started out well with the teachers having drawn a range of animals to paint. But in true kindi style the brushes were soon turned on each other and with the team leaders joining in everyone left that day covered in paint and glitter much to the delight of the kids.

Having settled into school so well last week, Charlotte, Amy and Will were really taking things in their stride and introducing some excellent ideas of their own into their different classes. Will was teaching class 4 about the planets in the solar system and also showing them how to write a diary. Along with their usual classes Charlotte got the paints out in class 6 and got the kids to draw and color a wide range of flags from around the world. Amy had classes 7&8 learning health and how to clean and cover different types of wounds and also introduced some math games which the kids loved. Along with all these ideas our teachers managed to keep the kids rehearsing their pieces for the public speaking which will take place on the last week of project.

After last week’s spear fishing trips and bilo making, this week saw the team trying their hand at some bracelet making and also some traditional Fiji cooking. The bracelets are made in much the same way as the bilo’s and are a fabulous Fijian souvenir to take home. Having discovered his love of custard cake, Bertie thought he would try his hand at making one of his own. With the various ingredients purchased he stopped off in Nasesara, the neighbouring village, along with Amy and Charlotte to try his hand at cooking Fijian style. The result as you can see from the pictures was a massive pie which Bertie was only too glad to share with the rest of the team on his return to the village. Amy and Charlotte have took a liking to the ‘lo-lo buns’ the village ladies make for breakfast and so thought they would give making them a go. Their attempt too turned out to be a huge success, Amy had planned on keeping some for breakfast the next morning but once everyone got a taste the plate was soon empty. Here’s hoping our trio of chefs keep experimenting with Fijian dishes.

On Saturday the team were due to play along with Nasesara and Wawa in rugby and netball games against Navuti. Unfortunately due to a morning of heavy rain it was decided that for everyone’s safety it would be better to postpone the games until the weather improved.

With a free day in the village the leaders set everyone a challenge. This was to get together in their school house teams and make a Fijian raft or ‘billi billi’ from bamboo which we will then race along the coast to neighboring village Niubasaga. Everyone thought this was a great idea and first out of the blocks were Kikau with team leader Ray leading the charge into the forest in search of bamboo. Close behind them were Kula with Ronnie and Ollie determined not to be left behind. Soqe then made their push for bamboo with Kasaqa nowhere to be seen. The members of Kula would also like it noted that they were the only team not to use the help of a Fijian in collecting their bamboo and so feel that no matter what the outcome of the competition they are all truly winners anyway! With everything they need collected it was then time to try and build their rafts using a wide range of methods from tying them together with twine to bracing the bamboo with sticks. Being first in the forest meant Kikau soon had their raft in the water and Amy was selected to test its buoyancy. After a short paddle around the river which borders Wawa it was clear the structure was going to hold, although the aim is to get all four team members on it and paddle to Niubasaga. Even though this task isn’t to be completed for another 2 weeks everyone had a great time coming up with ideas, some of which were too ridiculous to attempt, and any free time will now be spent putting the finishing touches to their vessels!

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Expedition adventure; A trek to Ruku Ruku!

Ruku Ruku Oct '11 (5)

Saturday saw our gap year team take two boats across to Ovalau again. This time though it was to climb the highest peak on the island! Even though the breakfast conch was heard at a very early 6am everyone was up in good spirits and looking forward to the day ahead. The trek is certainly a very tough day trip! Taking approximately 2hours to reach the peak and the same back down, the team have to negotiate everything from grassy banks and scrambling on their hands and knees to a 20ft rock wall which has to be climbed with only a rope to help. Although there were a few priceless and somewhat worried looking faces at the sight of it, everyone made it to the top and back without any problem at all. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t at its best so the view out over Ovalau, Moturiki and the distant islands of the Lomaiviti was limited but the sense on achievement on reaching the top soon made up for that. On the way back down the team got a chance to stop in at the beautiful rock pools for a well deserved cool off and some cliff jumping. It was then back to our guide Tambola’s house for an excellent lunch of omelettes and sandwiches which disappeared in minutes!  It was then back into the boats for the trip home to Wawa and some well-deserved early nights. Sunday is a day of rest in the village and none more welcome than this one. So after attending church with the villagers and taking part in the service by singing ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ the gap team spent the rest of the day laying about and chatting of their achievement the previous day.