Archive for June, 2012

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Batiki Island – A phenomenal end to a life changing expedition!


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The Think Pacific gap year team of April 2012 have now left beautiful Mua village. They have left behind the smiling faces, new found friends and Fijian family, which our volunteers now count as their own. Enjoying beers by the Beach House, lazing in hammocks by the Pacific Ocean and enjoying their final ever week as a team is an awesome way to end, but the  memories of Batiki Island; the people, the culture, the unique customs and the kaiviti way is what makes the Fiji Islands the greatest place on earth.  And these are the memories that will be most vivid when the team tell stories back home of their Fijian adventures.

Here are all the highlights, from the past couple of weeks, which has seen so many incredible achievements and unique Fijian experiences. It’s going to be hard to do it justice in one blog post!

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Having been part of village life for six weeks now home doesn’t feel far away. Every week we spend with our families the closer we become and the village of Mua sits deeper in our hearts. Time here seems different altogether; all of a sudden we have only two weeks left as part of this amazing community. Where does time go on project? The days simply fly by.

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Heading into week 7 we have begun preparations for the fun day and opening ceremony of the community hall. Brainstorming ideas for stalls and activities to be held before the ceremony, we hope to do our families proud in contributing to one of the biggest days in Mua’s recent history.

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In terms of the community hall, we are a matter of days from completion and it is almost time to pull out the paint brushes. This week Grace, Hannah, Thom, Ben and James have knocked the windows together, Henry and Matt dug and cemented the steps while Kaitlyn, Sam, Fiona, Nat and Harriette are a few pieces from finishing the flooring.

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The Kindi has itself a new garden made from lolly sticks and card as of this week. Rachel, Thom, Natasha and Rupert have got extra creative with the children. Filling their garden with a vegetable patch and flowers, they have the place looking great. Friday, the guys lead a space themed day and the children had a ball making rockets.

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On the house competition front, our leaders have decided to hold the decision of this week’s photography and public speaking until the finals day in week eight, keeping things in suspense. On request from the Fijian teachers the guys have been on a one week rota in school. Molly has had a phenomenal week, her creative writing lessons have been a huge hit with the children. Every student in class 5 & 6 has created a 7 page, illustrated book, entitled: What I would do if I was the president of Fiji for one day.

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Rob has had a big impact on bringing the ability levels of those in class 4 closer together; spending time working closely with those who are a little behind has paid dividends.  Emily has dived head first into working with class 1 and 2 and gave it her all. It is great to see how she communicates with the children and how they respond exceptionally well to her fun approach to teaching. Witnessing Euan’s confidence grow day by day has been a testament to his motivation to succeed in school. He has done a great job in class 7 and 8, especially with their understanding of multiplying and dividing fractions.

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Tuesday night was again a chance for the volunteers to build up their souvenir collection with the volunteers being treated to a Fijian bracelet making session. The women from the village had their work cut out as bracelets proved a popular choice with the team. Wednesday was taken up by the quiz night with the losing team from week 1 becoming the quiz master’s, some interesting questions from Rupert added to a fun filled evening for the team.

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The 3rd spear fishing trip took place on Thursday evening with Harriette, Fiona, Rupert and Ben taking to the water, again it proved an amazing experience for the guys and certain to be an obvious memory from their time spent in Fiji. The working week ended with the villagers again throwing a beach bonfire, an amazingly chilled out night for both the villagers and the team. However it couldn’t be a Friday without their being grog and hop hop and this was no exception.

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The team spent Saturday on their 2nd trek of the expedition, led by some of the village boys the team climbed up the peak, passing some of the villager’s plantations, signaling the effort they put in to ensure the village have food on the table. When the team reached the top they were treated to some breathtaking views of the whole island which is now our home from home. Later on that day the team was taken out net fishing with the villagers, it was a tiring but amazing experience which will make Sunday lunch taste that extra bit nicer eating the fish we helped catch. Friday afternoon the volunteers were treated to a well earned rest, reward not only for their tremendous work but also used to refresh the guys for the huge end to the project, with only 2 weeks left we’re going to need all the energy we can get!

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This week couldn’t have got off to a better start, as the volunteers brought down the house in Sundays church service, indicating just how keen the team are to make the most of their remaining time here. The guys attended rehearsals led by Natalie and Grace and at the service performed the hymn  ‘shine Jesus shine’ , much to the delight of the villagers. A special mention must also go to Rupert for his bible reading in church.

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Those who donned their smarts for school have in no way damaged their popularity amongst the children. In particular Ben, Rachel and Natasha who lead classes 1&2 with the teacher absent. Elsewhere Natasha has also assisted with class 3&4’s Math and English, Thom has had the imagination of class 5&6 running wild throughout his story writing lessons and 7&8 have been treated to a fantastic lesson on the negative effects that smoking has on the circulatory system by Rupert.

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This week saw Harriette, Fiona and Natalie return to kindi with Euan and Rob taking on the role for the first time. Again the volunteers were outstanding when delivering the daily routine; the spiders they made with the young ones have been an all time kindi favourite.

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The toolbox has only been open briefly this week, the only use for the hammer and nails have been to construct a new storage box and toys for kindi. Matt and Ian have proudly carried their box down to Yavu and Ewan is set to be playing with his shape familiarization toy with the children during his second stint in kindi next week. Having put the tools down, the paint brushes have been in full flow. The team has given the hall its two undercoats leaving just the final coat on the inside and out to do in our final week.

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A new chapter of the house cup began this week in the shape of house debating. The children had to argue their points of view on ‘whether secondary education should be paid for by the government’. The team worked extremely hard and fined tuned the pupils into producing some excellent arguments. Resulting in Vono’s first win in the house cup, taking the scores to 3-1 in loqo loqo’s  favour. With 4 remaining competitions, it looks set to be an exciting finish.

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We set off for our final trek after sports coaching on Monday, heading through Yavu and up to first rock we looked down on our village in the light of a truly breathtaking sunset. Albeit the heavens did open but our sprits it did not dampen, making use of the natural mud slide a few rested tired legs and made their way back down on their belly’s… Emily!

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The villagers have helped us put the finishing touches to our very own hand-made souvenir collection of traditional fans, hats and bilo’s throughout the evenings. The working week ended on Thursday with it being the school fundraiser on Friday. Hosted by the villagers the sports pitch was surrounded by those from all around the island, bobbing in and out of sheds which played music, sold samosa’s and cups of tea. With speakers playing out Fijian reggae and children running all around there was a festival feel to the day. This set the stage for the days main events; the TP vs Batiki netball match and Mua/TP vs Rest of Batiki rugby match.

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The sidelines cheered a plenty as competition brought out the best in the team, displaying the togetherness that has been throughout since our early days on Caqalai. The girls coming together to produce a sterling performance, trailing 5-2 at half time they fought for every ball, losing to a significantly more experienced Batiki team 8-3 and the Fijian ladies sang their praises. With talk of Natalie’s fine goal and the outstanding work by the two rocks at the heart of the TP defence, Rachel and Grace. As for the rugby, Ian’s meke, warrior dance reflected the passion the guys showed on the pitch. The TP boys lead the way and their family members of Mua followed. Thom and Ian laid the platform for James’ opening try taking Mua into an early 5-0 lead. This settled any early nerves, however the Rest of Batiki team hit back with a try shortly before half time leaving the score 5-5. The second half was no let up in terms of intensity, both teams had early opportunities to score tries, Ben denying Rest of Batiki with a try saving scurry into the in-goal area. Down the opposite end in last few minutes of time and the score still tied Thom slipped Ewan a neat pass for him to break away, with the crowd going wild only an exceptional try saving challenge dragged Euan down 5 metres short of snatching an enthralling victory for Mua. And so the match ended a draw.

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Week 8;

Our final week in Mua village has had it all. Adding to our project activities of school, sports, kindi and build we have had the opening ceremony of the community hall, the fun day, the farewell church service, meke’s, house cup finals and farewell feasts. Blink and it would have been missed, such has been the craziness of the events this week.

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The final week in school saw tremendous efforts from James, Kaitlyn, Molly and Fiona. Although it was only a 3 day week, the team wasted no time in making an impact. Kaitlyn’s solar system lessons in year 5&6 were exceptional and definitely a highlight from our time in school.  James led a beneficial lesson to classes 3&4 on alphabetical order and Molly was praised for her assistance throughout the English, Maths and Science lessons in years 7&8. Fiona had her work cut out but managed to settle down the tireless year 1&2s to deliver phonics lessons on the ‘sh’ sound.

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On the Friday afternoon the team were rewarded for their effort over the past 8 weeks, with a limitless amount of cakes and treats, prepared by the children’s mothers. The headmaster then followed with an emotional thank you speech. The paint had only just settled and already the villagers were around the build awaiting the finished product. A huge effort from the team saw the paint brushes and tins packed away and all that remained was the opening ceremony on Friday. The team’s logo added a personal touch, placed above the door it was a symbol of volunteer’s collective ideas and proved a real talking point amongst the village.

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The children from kindi were treated this week, as the new games and puzzles were unleashed. The equipment introduced was the ideas of the volunteers and were bought using the money from the kindi fundraiser. Euan, Matt, Harriette, Emily and Natalie had the pleasure of opening the games to the little ones, who struggled in containing their excitement. The children have really benefitted from the volunteers involvement and their progression is clearly evident, the increase in attendance is also an indication, with 9 participants in week 1 improving to a regular 18 pupils in the final weeks.

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The team accepted an invitation to visit Yavu village on Wednesday evening. Signaling the beginning of the end, the village hosted a farewell feast in the kindergarden, followed by grog and hop hop. It was a flattering evening for the team. It was an early rise Thursday morning as the village had prepared a huge surprise for the volunteers. The team was treated to a prestigious event called the Yavirou. This traditional style of Fijian fishing is regarded an annual event at Christmas and was used in preparation for the weekend to come.

Sadly this week with Sam feeling unwell and suffering from a fever, it was decided that a visit to the hospital would be the best option. Harry, and Ronnie (and also Kaitlyn who kindly wanted to stay by Sam’s side) all left to take Sam to the capital, Suva. It was a sad day to see Sam and Kaitlyn make an early departure from the village and to miss the final weekend. But the team would see them again at the resort stage and tell them all the stories of the final few days in Mua. (The whole team are now indeed back together and relaxing on the Coral Coast, with Sam feeling better after seeing the doctors and taking some much needed rest).

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Back in the village, the community was a buzz of excitement. Preperations were underway and guests began arriving for the culmination of our gap year project and the opening of the magnificent hall.  It really is astounding that such a building, which was no more than a piece of land and an idea on a paper eight weeks ago is now standing proud in the village, ready to be used on a daily basis by the community.

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The community centre will now be the focus for every village activity, from homework classes for the children and evening youth clubs, to hosting training workshops by the Ministry and a temporary clinic by visiting doctors.  Being the most stucturally sound building in Mua, it provides a vital facility to shelter from storms and to celebrate Fijian culture and village customs on a daily basis, to host guest and family returning for holidays and to celebrate births and marriages.

It’s always a central aim of every project to leave a legacy and our April team have certainly done just that and more.  Every Think Pacific project ends with one final celebration, where the Fijian Ministry visit to see our progress and the tiny village, which is now our home, says one huge farewell to our volunteers for all their hard work. The weekend ahead was one for all to remember..

The Opening Ceremony!

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Village life was put on hold for what was one the biggest days in Mua’s recent history on Friday afternoon. The opening of the community hall was the first duty of the newly installed island chief. And so, the whole island along with family members from the mainland gathered for a rare traditional ceremony.

To witness the original kava ceremony that has been part of the Fijian culture for hundreds of years was a once in a life time moment not only for the team but many villagers also. Following the first bowl in the new community hall the team where walked through a tunnel of applause into a feast. After which they returned to their home and awaited an escort from Fijian warriors with torches to attend the halls debut night of hop hop.

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Saturday was the teams turn to host as they transformed the village into a mini festival for the fun day. Before opening the stalls the crowd gathered in the hall for house singing and speeches from the team. The house singing saw the children of Vono sing along to Rupert strumming ‘in the jungle’ and Logologo stomp their feet to ‘500 miles’. Speeches from the team gave each of them the opportunity to publicly thank their families for making their past eight week so hospitable. Out on the field, the team took to their stalls which sold cakes, pancakes, juice and activities included the coconut shy, penalty shoot out, sponge kerner, bat the rat and treasure hunt. After which the team performed their Meke to an enthusiastic audience.  The day was a huge success, everyone having a ball of a time and raising $135 for the village of Mua.

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All good things must come to an end and with emotions running high throughout the last 3 days it was easy to see how their wasn’t to be a dry eye in the entire village come Sunday.

The day started with the touching farewell service and the village had decided to respond to the volunteers speeches from the previous day. The families produced moving tributes about the team’s time here, leaving each volunteer in floods. The team pulled themselves together in order to perform “oh happy days” much to the delight of the church congregation, with Natalie and Fiona bringing the house down with their beautiful solos. The team again left teary eyed as they exited the church for one last time to the angel like voices of the village choir.

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The expedition came to a finale with a memorable grog and hop hop session, ending at 7 o clock in the morning. And then it was time to board the boats and bid farewell to our adopted home and the island of BATIKI!

Vinaka Mua village for making the past eight weeks such a special experience.

Loloma, The tp team.

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Saturday, June 9th, 2012

TP’s five week volunteer project – Latest expedition news from Savuna village


Blog
After a few days of relaxing in Caqalai and getting use to the Fijian weather and culture, including visiting Levuka the old capital of Fiji, the team took a boat to Savuna, the village they will be living in for the next month. The team were welcomed by all the villagers that were eager to meet them, as well as a huge welcome sign for think pacific.
The team then presented a Sevu Sevu with the community and were introduced to their families and too time to explore their village and home for the next four weeks. Their first full day on the island was spent visiting Nasasara village, Navuti village and the school compound where they will be teaching and leading kindergarten and youth projects. The team will be getting a boat to Nasasara each day and then trekking along the coast to school so it was good for everyone to get use to their surroundings and the tropical commute to inspire the kids.
In the afternoon the team confirmed their first rota for school, Kindi and build and spent time getting to know their families. Our volunteers then got into full swing, with 5 of our volunteer team heading in school teaching at different levels and many subjects. We’re lucky that in our group of volunteers we have a good number who have had experience in teaching at home and also abroad, and skills in the classroom started to shine through from the start.
Our volunteers in Kindi have started to get use to the manic mornings! With lot of games, singing, running around, arts and crafts, maths and English it’s been a busy start to the pre-school project. Highlight of the week included the team and kids making a ‘Kindi garden’ out of paper and paint which they put up on the wall for later groups and kids to see.
As for the building project, the team started off by renovating the church hall, making scaffolding from wood for the outside of the church so they could paint the walls and window frames, they attached the window louver frames and glass and also fixed both of the doors.
The main building project is to create new toilets and proper sanitation facilities for the communities, which will begin in the coming days and this was a great project to test everyone’s building skills before the major work begins to improve the living conditions for Savuna.
Sports coaching with the kids at Moturiki District School is flying with cricket, netball, rounder’s, hockey and football coaching sessions all proving very popular and with the kids rotating through each sport, they experience so many new activities as part of one busy weekly after school timetable.
At the end of their first week the team were invited to Nasasara village for a big feast and then grog and hop hop, which the team thoroughly enjoyed and danced until late into the night before heading back home to Savuna.
For the weekend, the team headed  to the jungle plantations with their families to try their hand at farming for traditional crops and they also took to the nearby reefs for some  some spear fishing trips too. The first Sunday in the village was a church service and feast in the afternoon followed by a team meeting with the leaders as we prepare for so many more project aims ahead. All in all a great start from Kindi, school and building from all the team and lots more volunteering and adventures ahead!
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After a few days spent relaxing on their castaway paradise, the team took a boat to Savuna, their Fijian village and home for the next month. We were welcomed by all the villagers as they lined the shore eager to meet our volunteers and a huge welcome sign hung from the village to greet think pacific’s May 2012 team.
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The team presented a Sevu Sevu to the community and they were then introduced to their families before taking time to explore their village and island. Our first full day on Moturiki was spent visiting Nasasara village, Navuti village and the school compound where our team will soon be teaching, leading kindergarten classes and organising youth projects. Each day will involve getting a boat to Nasasara from Savuna and then trekking along the coast to school, so it was great for everyone to get used to their surroundings and the tropical commute ahead required to inspire the Moturiki Island kids!
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In the afternoon our volunteers planned their first rota for school, Kindi and build and spent the evening relaxing as a group and getting to know our new families before the work begins. The first week then got into full swing, with 5 of our team heading into school to teach all different levels and many diverse subjects. We’re lucky that in our group of volunteers we have a good number of people with experience in teaching at home and also abroad and their skills in the classroom started to shine through from the start.
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Our volunteers in Kindi were introduced to the manic pre-school mornings! With lots of games, singing, arts and crafts, maths and English it’s been a busy start to the kindi project! Highlights of the week included kindi games on the field in the sunshine, story time and children and the team making a ‘Kindi garden’ out of paper and paint which they put up on the wall for later groups and kids to see.
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For our building project, the team started off by renovating the church hall, making scaffolding from wood for the outside of the church so they could paint the walls and window frames, they attached the window louver frames and glass and also fixed both of the doors.
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The main building project ahead is to create new toilets and proper sanitation facilities for the communities, which will begin in the coming days. Starting with the church renovation has been a great introduction to test everyone’s building skills and practise some hands on team work before the major work begins to improve the basic living conditions for the amazing people of Savuna.
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Sports coaching with the children of Moturiki District School got off to a flying start also, with cricket, netball, rounder’s, hockey and football coaching sessions all proving very popular and with the kids rotating through each sport, they’re enjoying the experience of so many new activities as part of one busy weekly after school timetable.  After a full day of kindi, teaching and sports for our youth volunteers, it’s been an adventure trekking around the island and taking local motor boats back home to Savuna each afternoon, ready for dinner and the evening fun to begin.
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At the end of their first week the team were invited to Nasasara village for a big feast and then grog and hop hop, which the team thoroughly enjoyed and danced until late into the night before heading back home to Savuna.  At the weekend, the team took a guided trip to the jungle plantations with their families to learn how to farm for traditional crops. They also took a tour out to the nearby reefs for their first taste of spear fishing. The first Sunday in the village involved a church service and a feast in the afternoon followed by a team meeting with the leaders as everyone prepares more project ideas ahead. All in all it’s been a superb start to the youth, sports and building aims and with so many more volunteering aims and adventures ahead, it’s going to be an immensely busy and rewarding  few weeks in the Fiji Islands.
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Volunteer stories; Natalie’s impressions of life on Batiki Island..


Bula! We’re halfway through our time on Batiki island and not a single one of us can believe how fast it has all gone. What I’m finding most breath taking is not just the scenery, the people, and the culture but the experiences I would never have dreamed of if it wasn’t for being here and experiencing it first hand. These activities vary from the small things, like using a bucket as a shower to the bigger activitites. Such as trekking around the whole island, stopping at each village for a sevu sevu, and having a picnic on the most beautiful beach on the island on the way home.
Washing my own clothes in a big basin with my Fijian mum and my four Think Pacific sisters, Emily, Harriette, Rachel and Hannah, has been a learning curve. It is the first reason to make me appreiciate home , my washing machine and my mum! Reason number two is the bucket showers. They’re fairly cold in the mornings but just what we need after a long day on the build and coaching sports to the energetic school children. Other new exciting activities inlcude: weaving mats- confusing but addictive. Fan and braclet making- similar to mats but smaller! These are all made from coconut leaves which have been trimmed, cooked and dryed in the sun.
An unforgettable experience was when we had pork in Week 3 (on Batiki) for the church meeting. It was a welcome change from fish, although some of us struggled as we’d seen it slaughtered and even helped butcher it the day before.
This week and last I’ve been helping in Kindi with 5 other Think Pacific friends and Frances: the Kindi teacher. It’s been challenging keeping 10 or so 4 year olds under control with a language barrier. But when I see them walking home along the beach holding hands and singing songs we had taught them from home (my ‘Little Green Frog’ has proven very popular! :) it makes it all worthwhile!
Other than the little things like sunsets, the amazingly clear starry night sky, being silly with our Fijian brothers and sisters, walking along the beach, speaking simple bits of the Fijian language with the locals, singing and hop-hoping in the grog hall, and sharing skills with the rest of the Think Pacific team, one big opportunity I’ve had and will always cherish is Night Spear Fishing. I was lucky enough to be in the first group to go out. Rachel, Matt, Euan and myself were all in awe when we finished of the specialty of this experience. We got to witness first hand the talent of the Fijian fishermen, diving down into the coral and shooting many fish with the spear gun in one hand and torch in the other. Rachel and I were following our Fijian dad, Tuemasi. When he dived down to get some fish for our dinner, we watched from the top of the water in the safety of our snorkels! We even swam with a reef shark for a while! A particular highlight for me. What made this night even more unforgettable was the bonfire and the barbequed fresh fish on the way home. That’s the closest to fresh I think I will ever get! What an unbelievable and magical experience.
From small, everyday things, to larger once in a lifetime opportunities I know I will never forget any of this. I will treasure it as long as I live, using helpful skills I’ve learnt along the way throughout my life. Fiji is a truely amazing place and I’m having the time of my life.
Natalie
Natalies Blog Pic 2
Bula! We’re halfway through our time on Batiki island and not a single one of us can believe how fast it has all gone. What I’m finding most breath taking is not just the scenery, the people, and the culture but the experiences I would never have dreamed of if it wasn’t for being here and experiencing it first hand. These activities vary from the small things, like using a bucket as a shower to the bigger activitites. Such as trekking around the whole island, stopping at each village for a sevu sevu, and having a picnic on the most beautiful beach on the island on the way home.
Natalie's Blog Pic 1
Washing my own clothes in a big basin with my Fijian mum and my four Think Pacific sisters, Emily, Harriette, Rachel and Hannah, has been a learning curve. It is the first reason to make me appreiciate home, my washing machine and my mum! Reason number two is the bucket showers. They’re fairly cold in the mornings but just what we need after a long day on the build and coaching sports to the energetic school children. Other new exciting activities inlcude: weaving mats- confusing but addictive. Fan and braclet making- similar to mats but smaller! These are all made from coconut leaves which have been trimmed, cooked and dryed in the sun. An unforgettable experience was when we had pork in Week 3 (on Batiki) for the church meeting. It was a welcome change from fish, although some of us struggled as we’d seen it slaughtered and even helped butcher it the day before.
Natalie's gap year
This week and last I’ve been helping in Kindi with 5 other Think Pacific friends and Frances: the Kindi teacher. It’s been challenging keeping 10 or so 4 year olds under control with a language barrier. But when I see them walking home along the beach holding hands and singing songs we had taught them from home (my ‘Little Green Frog’ has proven very popular! :) it makes it all worthwhile!
Other than the little things like sunsets, the amazingly clear starry night sky, being silly with our Fijian brothers and sisters, walking along the beach, speaking simple bits of the Fijian language with the locals, singing and hop-hoping in the grog hall, and sharing skills with the rest of the Think Pacific team, one big opportunity I’ve had and will always cherish is Night Spear Fishing. I was lucky enough to be in the first group to go out. Rachel, Matt, Euan and myself were all in awe when we finished of the specialty of this experience.
Natalie volunteering in Fiji
We got to witness first hand the talent of the Fijian fishermen, diving down into the coral and shooting many fish with the spear gun in one hand and torch in the other. Rachel and I were following our Fijian dad, Tuemasi. When he dived down to get some fish for our dinner, we watched from the top of the water in the safety of our snorkels! We even swam with a reef shark for a while! A particular highlight for me. What made this night even more unforgettable was the bonfire and the barbequed fresh fish on the way home. That’s the closest to fresh I think I will ever get! What an unbelievable and magical experience. From small, everyday things, to larger once in a lifetime opportunities I know I will never forget any of this. I will treasure it as long as I live, using helpful skills I’ve learnt along the way throughout my life. Fiji is a truly amazing place and I’m having the time of my life.
Natalie
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Volunteer stories; Matt’s Fiji experience


We’re just past the halfway stage of our stay here on Batiki and no one can believe how quickly time has flown. The only logical conclusion being that we are all having fun.
I was asked the other day by my Fijian dad, Naibuka, what else I would like to do whilst I am here. This immediately made me look back over all that we have done so far and the more I think about it, the more impressive the list becomes. Just last week myself, Euan, Natalie and Rachel were lucky enough to go night spear fishing. Watching the Fijians in action as they effortlessly dive through the water almost as well as the very fish they’re trying to catch was truly amazing. But then to get the chance ourselves to take the spear gun, dive down and catch tomorrows lunch was such an experience that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
Amongst spear fishing, snorkeling, trekking around the island, finding some breathtaking beaches, making new Fijian friends and living and breathing as one of the locals, I genuinely struggled to answer my dad as to what else I wanted to do. Every day brings a surprise and a new experience none of us will ever forget.
I’ll take four more weeks of that thanks!
Matt's Blog Pic 1
We’re just past the halfway stage of our stay here on Batiki and no one can believe how quickly time has flown. The only logical conclusion being that we are all having fun. I was asked the other day by my Fijian dad, Naibuka, what else I would like to do whilst I am here. This immediately made me look back over all that we have done so far and the more I think about it, the more impressive the list becomes. Just last week myself, Euan, Natalie and Rachel were lucky enough to go night spear fishing. Watching the Fijians in action as they effortlessly dive through the water almost as well as the very fish they’re trying to catch was truly amazing. But then to get the chance ourselves to take the spear gun, dive down and catch tomorrows lunch was such an experience that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
Matt's Blog Pic 2 Matt's Blog Pic 3
Amongst spear fishing, snorkeling, trekking around the island, finding some breathtaking beaches, making new Fijian friends and living and breathing as one of the locals, I genuinely struggled to answer my dad as to what else I wanted to do. Every day brings a surprise and a new experience none of us will ever forget. I’ll take four more weeks of that thanks!
Matt.
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Fiji gap year update from Harriette and Emily…


We are over half way through our time in Fiji and already have so many memories.
For the last two weeks, I (Harriette) have been in Kindi. I had such a great time, learning lots of songs, including some in Fijian, playing plenty of duck duck goose and attempting to control a group of over energetic kids.
Whereas, I (Emily) have been on the build for two weeks. It is coming together really fast. I have been doing the roof, walls and flooring and now it looks like an actual building.
In the afternoon we all come together for House Cup and sports. So far we have done House Art with a ‘who am I’ theme. It was interesting finding out about the children’s aspirations, hobbies and favorite foods. The evenings consist of us learning the local traditions including bilo making, mat, bracelet and fan weaving, which are great souvenirs.
We are all having a stupendous, marvelous, fantabulious time and have made lots of great friends and we do not want to go home, but it would be great if someone could send us a Mc Donalds!
Harriette&Emily Blog Pic 1
We are over half way through our time in Fiji and already have so many memories. For the last two weeks, I (Harriette) have been in Kindi. I had such a great time, learning lots of songs, including some in Fijian, playing plenty of duck duck goose and attempting to control a group of over energetic kids. Whereas, I (Emily) have been on the build for two weeks. It is coming together really fast. I have been doing the roof, walls and flooring and now it looks like an actual building. In the afternoon we all come together for House Cup and sports. So far we have done House Art with a ‘who am I’ theme. It was interesting finding out about the children’s aspirations, hobbies and favorite foods. The evenings consist of us learning the local traditions including bilo making, mat, bracelet and fan weaving, which are great souvenirs. We are all having a stupendous, marvellous, fantabulious time and have made lots of great friends and we do not want to go home!  (but it would be great if someone could send us a Mc Donalds!).
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Batiki island expedition update!


i Island update
Apologies for the cliché but time really does fly when you’re having fun. The end of this week marked the half way stage for the volunteer’s time in the village, and indicated just how difficult the team are going to find leaving their new found homes. The week also marked the return to the normal routine, with the school children starting back after their half term break. Our volunteers were excited to get things back underway and wasted no time getting stuck in!!
The build saw a great effort from the team in order to complete the roof. The week started under beautiful weather conditions meaning the team were all desperate to help out in order to work on their tans at the same time as making huge progress for the village.  Thom and Grace worked tirelessly when strapping the rafters and Euan was put through his paces working alongside jack, our Fijian building manager. The build is really starting to take shape now the roof is finished and puts the team in a great position to start walling and flooring in week five.
Rachel, Matt, Samantha and Henry decided they were going to take on school for the next 2 weeks. Matt chose the older class of 7&8 and gathered a rapport instantly with the children, showing us the reason why he wants to follow up teaching as a career. Rachel worked alongside the tireless 1&2s and her enthusiasm was infectious from the word go. Henry assisted in 5&6, leading small groups for guided reading and helping individual children with their maths. Samantha helped out in classes 3&4 assisting in Math’s, English and Science lessons. All 4 of the volunteers enjoyed their successful week in school and are looking forward to continuing their efforts next week.
This week the cute, little rascals known as the kindi children were treated to 6 new climbing frames in the shape of Harriete, Natalie, Ben, James, Fiona and Kaitlyn! The children were more than happy with the new additions and the daily routine ran incredibly well, with each of the volunteers taking the lead for different parts throughout the day. The volunteers also taught the children a new rhyme which will be performed at next week’s Kindi fundraiser.
The school children this week were treated to after school sports lessons with the volunteers leading individual sessions for each year group. This week’s sports were: Netball, Rugby  Hockey, Football and Rounders. With this team having such a sporting background it was easy to see why the sports sessions were a massive hit with the children.
Throughout this week our volunteer team were rewarded for their hard work with some fun filled evenings. Monday night saw the team and villagers take part in a games night with the shed being occupied by different card and board games and huge cheers as people won or someone was caught cheating! Tuesday gave the volunteers a chance to make their friends and family souvenirs as the villages assisted the team in making a ‘Bilo’, the traditional Fijian bowl in which Kava is served, made by scraping a coconut shell until you have a smooth and beautiful finish. Wednesday was certainly a night that Euan, Matthew, Rachel and Natalie won’t forget in a hurry. It marked the 1st of our night spear fishing trips, a surreal experience of which words cannot describe. Their night finished with the 4 of them sat with the Fijian fishermen round a bonfire at 2 o clock in the morning cooking their catch. Thursday the whole team was treated to a bonfire on the beach with the villagers and for many of the team it was one of those moments when they look back at their time in Fiji, they will remember most fondly.
A hard but enjoyable week at work was rewarded with a huge grog and hop hop session in the neighboring village Yavu. The night didn’t end there though for Rob, Henry and Euan as they continued the grog with the villagers back in Mua till 2:30 in the morning. Saturday the team made mothers’ day cards for their amazing adopted Fijian mothers in the afternoon and finished the week with a chilled out movie night. After the weekends rest the team will be training for the upcoming island challenge, which promises to be a huge week of sports and fun Apologies for the cliché but time really does fly when you’re having fun. The end of this week marked the half way stage for the volunteer’s time in the village, and indicated just how difficult the team are going to find leaving their new found homes. The week also marked the return to the normal routine, with the school children starting back after their half term break. Our volunteers were excited to get things back underway and wasted no time getting stuck in!!
gap year team gap year fiji volunteers
Apologies for the cliché but time really does fly when you’re having fun. The end of this week marked the half way stage for the volunteer’s time in the village, and indicated just how difficult the team are going to find leaving their new found homes. The week also marked the return to the normal routine, with the school children starting back after their half term break. Our volunteers were excited to get things back underway and wasted no time getting stuck in!!
building building volunteering
The build saw a great effort from the team in order to complete the roof. The week started under beautiful weather conditions meaning the team were all desperate to help out in order to work on their tans at the same time as making huge progress for the village.  Thom and Grace worked tirelessly when strapping the rafters and Euan was put through his paces working alongside jack, our Fijian building manager. The build is really starting to take shape now the roof is finished and puts the team in a great position to start walling and flooring in week five.
teaching volunteer project teaching volunteer
Rachel, Matt, Samantha and Henry decided they were going to take on school for the next 2 weeks. Matt chose the older class of 7&8 and gathered a rapport instantly with the children, showing us the reason why he wants to follow up teaching as a career. Rachel worked alongside the tireless 1&2s and her enthusiasm was infectious from the word go. Henry assisted in 5&6, leading small groups for guided reading and helping individual children with their maths. Samantha helped out in classes 3&4 assisting in Math’s, English and Science lessons. All 4 of the volunteers enjoyed their successful week in school and are looking forward to continuing their efforts next week.
kindergarten Fiona volunteering in kindi
This week the cute, little rascals known as the kindi children were treated to 6 new climbing frames in the shape of Harriette, Natalie, Ben, James, Fiona and Kaitlyn! The children were more than happy with the new additions and the daily routine ran incredibly well, with each of the volunteers taking the lead for different parts throughout the day. The volunteers also taught the children a new rhyme which will be performed at next week’s Kindi fundraiser.
sports volunteer sports volunteering
The school children this week were treated to after school sports lessons with the volunteers leading individual sessions for each year group. This week’s sports were: Netball, Rugby  Hockey, Football and Rounders. With this team having such a sporting background it was easy to see why the sports sessions were a massive hit with the children.
fiji village Mua Week 4 (3)
Throughout this week our volunteer team were rewarded for their hard work with some fun filled evenings. Monday night saw the team and villagers take part in a games night with the shed being occupied by different card and board games and huge cheers as people won or someone was caught cheating! Tuesday gave the volunteers a chance to make their friends and family souvenirs as the villages assisted the team in making a ‘Bilo’, the traditional Fijian bowl in which Kava is served, made by scraping a coconut shell until you have a smooth and beautiful finish.
spear fishing (2) spear fishing
Wednesday was certainly a night that Euan, Matthew, Rachel and Natalie won’t forget in a hurry. It marked the 1st of our night spear fishing trips, a surreal experience of which words cannot describe. Their night finished with the 4 of them sat with the Fijian fishermen round a bonfire at 2 o clock in the morning cooking their catch. Thursday the whole team was treated to a bonfire on the beach with the villagers and for many of the team it was one of those moments when they look back at their time in Fiji, they will remember most fondly.
Harriette&Emily's Blog Pic 2 Mua Week 4 (25)
A hard but enjoyable week at work was rewarded with a huge grog and hop hop session in the neighboring village Yavu. The night didn’t end there though for Rob, Henry and Euan as they continued the grog with the villagers back in Mua till 2:30 in the morning. Saturday the team made mothers’ day cards for their amazing adopted Fijian mothers in the afternoon and finished the week with a chilled out movie night. After the weekends rest the team will be training for the upcoming island challenge, which promises to be a huge week of sports and fun in Fiji.