Its hard to believe that this is our 8th and final week in Wawa but what an immense two months it has been. For those of you who have loved ones in the team it may feel like an age ago when they left home to start their Think Pacific expedition in the South Pacific but for everyone here it seems like just yesterday when we reached the castaway island of Caqalai and presented our first of many Sevu Sevu’s in Moturiki’s chiefly village of Niubasaga. That was the team’s first taste of what a Fijian village was like and gave them an insight to some of the traditions they would soon come to know and love. Ask anyone and they will admit to having at least some nerves and maybe even questioned themselves if they could make it through the next 8 weeks. Ask the same people now and their answers will be they had no idea why they were nervous and that this has possibly turned out to be an experience of a lifetime.
As usual there was a full schedule for this week starting with the completion of the build. This involved applying the remaining coats to the inside of the building and touching up any necessary parts of the outside. With 10 of our 11 volunteers on the build everything was almost complete by Tuesday afternoon leaving Wednesday to finish tidying up and sweeping out the building. As you can see from the pictures the finish was to the standard many would expect from professional builders which makes the fact that this was built by a group of people who had possibly never set foot on a building site all the more impressive. It really is a credit to them all.
Moturiki Sports Day and The House Cup!
Sports coaching also continued this week in the build up to the house sports day on Wednesday afternoon. This is where classes are divided up into their houses and compete against each other in sports such as sprints and long jump, to gain maximum points to go towards their overall total at the house cup final.
The house cup final took place on Thursday afternoon and started with the public speaking section. This in its own was truly amazing to watch as kids from classes 3 to 8 stand up in front of the entire school and recite various poems and speeches selected for them by our team.
With each house scoring well in both sports and public speaking it all came down to the house shout to decide who would lift the house cup and with each team singing their hearts out and throwing in some dance moves it was going to be a hard one for the judges to call. After some close marking it was Kikau who eventually came out on top overall and their house captain Samu lifted the cup. It was a great afternoon’s fun for everyone and finished off in true Fijian style with the teachers throwing a farewell tea party for the team and Master Mika pulling out the guitar and grog for one final hop hop session. It was clear to see the bond and impression our team have made on these kids as there were a few tears shed as we left the school for the final time.
Every evening this week saw a different neighboring village visit with the likes of Nasesara visiting for the second time to see the hall and join the team for a few bowls of grog. We did manage to squeeze in one last spear fishing trip on Tuesday night which as always went down a storm with the team and a few of the team showing some excellent shooting skill.
Fijian raft racing!
On Friday it was time for the eagerly awaited raft race. After putting a few final touches to their vessels in the morning everyone took to the water at high tide in the afternoon ready to race. The aim was to paddle out into the bay from the river which surrounds Wawa, around a marker and back into the village. Everyone was head to head going into the first bend of the river but then the real battle started with a few of the team concentrating more on stopping the other boats instead of trying to win the race. This gave Bertie and Memphis a chance to storm ahead and rounded the marker well in the lead. The other three teams of Ronnie and Ollie, Lulu and Harry and Ray, Amy and Charlotte then worked somewhat unfairly to team up against Bertie and Memphis to ensure they wouldn’t win. With their rafts taking a bit of a battering and some even starting to come apart on the final leg it came down to a head to head race between Lulu and Harry and Ronnie and Ollie. Having just gained the lead with some unsportsman like conduct Lulu and Harry managed to hold on and win by the narrowest of margins. Everyone was greeted by the rest of the team and what seem like most of the village as they seemed to find it hilarious that we were racing what they use as everyday fishing vessels.
The Opening of the Hall!
Saturday was then the day everyone had been waiting for, the official opening of the hall and what a party Wawa threw. With people who live on the mainland but originate from Wawa filling 3 boats and what seemed like people from every village on the island, the crowd was immense. The day started with our team holding a village fun day which included face painting, a duel, coconut shire and cake and juice stand. The morning was then rounded off with a treasure hunt in which the kids had to follow clues around the forest which would ultimately lead them to find the hiding place of leader Ray.
After lunch it was then time for the guys and girls to perform the traditional meke’s which they have been learning for the past week. These drew huge cheers from the villagers and finished with everyone storming the hall to dance along with the guitars in a somewhat exaggerated hop hop. The afternoon then set the tone for the rest of the weekend with so much grog and hop hop the crowd spilled out of the hall and into the shed outside. Its not an easy thing to do in a Fijian village but the team drank the grog dry by about 1 that night so everyone headed to bed knowing the party would continue the next day.
Wawa Farwell Service
In the farewell service on Sunday morning the team sang ‘Colors of Day’ before listening to a moving speech from the village thanking them for everything they had done over the past 8 weeks. It was then the turn of Johnny, Will, Ollie and Bertie to repay the favor and say a few words of thanks to all those who have made this trip such a special experience. With another huge lunch laid on, this time in the hall everyone was in a somewhat somber mood as it began to sink in that we were leaving what the team have come to call home. Although when the guitars were back out that afternoon the mood soon lifted and the party began again this time only ending when we were getting on the boats at 8 o clock the next morning. It may be hard for some people to believe that you can become so attached to people or a place in what may seem like a short period of time but all you had to do was look around the village as our team boarded the boats for Caqalai for the final time with tears in their eyes and in those of the men, women and children of not only Wawa but Moturiki and it was clear to see just how much this has meant to everyone. As phone numbers and addresses were exchanged and farewells said there was some comfort to be had in knowing that each and every one of us have a home and a family here in Wawa forever.