Archive for November, 2011

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

The Final Week of Volunteering in Wawa Village

Wawa Week 8 (46)

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.

Wawa Week 8 (5)

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.

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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.

Wawa Week 8 (40)

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.

Wawa Week 8 (9)

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.

Wawa Week 8 (50)

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.

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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.

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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.

Wawa Week 8 (3)

Meke Performance!

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.

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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.

Wawa Week 8 (8)

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Fiji volunteer expedition video: July 2011 in Naicabecabe!

Vinaka vakalevu to Holly Fairfull from our July 2011 five week expedition team who has created this fantastic video of her time in Fiji. Holly’s team lived in Naicabecabe village, where they installed a fresh water system as well as leading youth, teaching, kindergarten and sports volunteer projects.  Holly has obviously gone to so much effort to create this video, and we think it’s incredible! Think Pacific would like to say a big thank you to the whole team and of course the villagers of Naicabecabe for making July 2011 a very special summer in the Fiji Islands!

Think Pacific July 2011 Moturiki Team from Holly Fairfull on Vimeo.

The time of our lives

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Thank you to Millfield School from the Fiji Islands!

Vinaka from Fiji!

Think Pacific would like to say a massive vinaka vaka levu to Millfield Pre-Prep School in Somerset for their generous donations to Batiki District School.

Year one at Millfield have been reading Julia Donaldson’s “Stick Man” and a copy was kindly sent to Batiki for the children there to enjoy as well. Master Vili’s class thrived on the activities set on the book; creating their own stick family and recreating the story on the beautiful Batiki beach front!

White boards, felt pens, scissors and not forgetting jelly babies (which unsurprisingly went down extremely well) were also enjoyed by class 1 and 2 who couldn’t believe the generosity shown by a school from the other side of the world!

With letters between the two schools being exchanged as well, let the Somerset-Batiki bond continue to grow!

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Gap year volunteering photos from Fiji

Here are some more great photo’s from our volunteering projects on Moturiki Island, including the rugby and netball matches from last week;

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Volunteering in Fiji: Week seven from Wawa village

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Having started the painting at the weekend, we now had eight days left on project to complete the community centre. With two coats to go on the roof and three on the inside and outside walls there was a busy few days ahead. The weather has been great for the best part of this project and week 7 was no different with the sun shining our gap year team could continue painting outside of the building and had everything except a final coat on the windows completed by Friday. They also applied the primer and began undercoating the inside of the hall. This meant by the end of the week all that was left to do was complete the outside windows and finish two coats inside, that won’t be a problem with the effort our volunteers put in and the way our team go about every day on building project.

As the last rota for school and kindi are optional only Angela chose to stay with what are now ‘her classes’ 7 & 8.  The bond she has made with these kids and the respect which they have for her is immense. It will be hard for both parties to leave each other in a few days but the impression and memories left on all their lives will no doubt stay with them forever.

Wawa Week 7 (6)

Sports coaching continued as normal this week with cricket, hockey, netball and dance. There were also a few sessions of lacrosse played with the kids and team. With rugby and netball games arranged against Ulinbau Primary on Friday extra focus was put on these sports. 

Johnny and Bertie also made the 45 minute trek across to Uluibau village and school on Monday and Wednesday to try and even things up by giving their kids some coaching too. On Friday the netball was up first and it was Moturiki District School who started the stronger with five unanswered nets in the first quarter. Uluibau Primary School did manage to close the gap to 2 points in the second quarter but MDS then found their shooting range just before half time and went in at the end of the second quarter comfortably in front. The MDS girls started where they left off in the third quarter and continued to dominate for the rest of the game running out comfortable winners in the end. 

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It was a different story in the rugby, however, UPS boys were clearly up for this game from the off and started the game much brighter than their opponents, scoring two tries in the first ten minutes of play. MDS soon found their rhythm and got themselves on the score sheet midway through the first half although it seemed that every time they scored UPS had an answer and went down the other end of the field and scored also. This game was played at an amazing tempo from the start and didn’t let up the entire game. With both teams pulling off some of the moves taught to them by our coaches the delight on Johnny and Bertie’s face’s was clear to see. UPS finished the game the stronger with the help of a few of the MDS class 6 boys and won the game 39-24 in the end but Moturiki Island was clearly the real winner on the day as we look to continue this inter school competition and push towards next year’s tournament in Levuka, which combines both schools and in which they did so well in this year.

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Evening time for the team was as busy as ever this week with a full schedule from Monday right through to Saturday. Monday night saw each of our volunteers spend some time playing cards and chatting with their families and some even had their own private grog sessions. On Tuesday it was then time for another village birthday, this time it was the turn of team leader Ronnie. As it is I who am writing this I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team and my fellow leaders for the presents and cards I received and for the greats night fun had by all, which continued until around 6am the following morning for most of us, I couldn’t have spent it with a better bunch of people. I would also like to say a massive thank you to the village of Wawa and those who turned up from neighboring villages for the unbelievable feast and cake which was presented to me on the night, they truly made it a night I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Happy Birthday Ronnie!

gap year volunteering (4) Wawa Week 7 (19)

After such a late night everyone decided to have an early night on wednesday although a few of the team did join the villagers for a few bowls of kava before bedtime. Thursday night was bonfire night and in true style some of the village elders built in impressive fire for the team to light. After the girls had practiced the Meke (traditional Fijian dance) which they will perform at the opening of the hall everyone gathered round and cooked fresh coconuts on the fire and chatted the night away. At the request of the team Friday was again family night as our volunteers looked to spend as much time with their Fijian families as possible over the next two weeks before leaving the village.

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On Saturday it was time to head across to school for their final games of netball and rugby on Moturiki. Having already had two cup games the girls were finishing off their tour with a friendly game against the Nasauvuki ladies. Both teams started on great form and exchanged points in the first quarter which was a real credit to our girls as they only had two Fijians playing for them. Nasauvuki however then drafted in some of the young MDS girls and the game swung in their favor. They did run out eventual winners but our girls weren’t too disheartened as they enjoyed the experience of playing against such talented players and everyone came together for a group photo in the end.

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In the rugby the boys were up against Niubasaga who are the current holders of the Think Pacific Cup so they had all to play for. All our boys were again playing with our American representative Will making his rugby debut in the second row. Ollie however had a late fitness test on his shoulders and unfortunately was unable to play although he did run the line as touch judge for the game. Even in the blistering heat the game was played at an unbelievable pace from the first whistle and continued the whole game. The Niubasaga boys had clearly put in some preparation for this game and pulled of some impressive moves early on to get them on the score sheet first. It was then our turn to get 3 points with the help of Johnnys right boot as he kicked home a penalty. There was never any more than 3 points in it for the rest of the game and with another impressive penalty from inside our half by Johnny the game went into the last 10 minutes 10pts to 9pts in favor of the cup holders. Despite some brave attempts from Bertie, Will and Lulu in the pack we were unable to get the final score needed to win the game and so Niubasaga hold on to the TP cup.

Both teams then made the walk across to Niubasaga where another great feast was laid on and the guitars and grog were in full swing. It was a great night and just added to the party atmosphere which will carry the team through their final week in Wawa and Moturiki.

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Youth and teaching volunteer projects

Our volunteers have really left an immense impression upon the children of Moturiki Island over the past few weeks. From teaching primary school lessons to organising dance clubs, youth clubs and kindergarten classes, it’s been an exhausting programme of activities but a huge amount of fun for the island children and a huge assistance to the local schools and kindergartens of Moturiki Island! Here are some of our favourite photos from the past couple of weeks, following our volunteers on our youth, kindi and teaching volunteer projects;

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