Archive for July, 2012

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Batiki Island – Volunteer diary and latest photos from Fiji!

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (7)

Week two has kicked off and the pace for our team has sped up not slowed down! The same groups have remained on each of our key areas of project. So this week the hard graft of the build has been carried on by our very own Loral and Hardy (Ben and Tom) who are always on hand to raise a smile and a song or two to keep moral high. We must add they do manage a bit of work in between!  The next member of our build team is Natalie who is thoroughly getting stuck in to the hard work with the boys showing us up a lot of the time, including the leaders.

Batiki July 12 - Week 3 (4) Batiki July 12 - Week 3 (3)
The acrobatic prowess of the team has been put to the test this week with the erection of the stud walls and roof trusses and Alex has been scaling the dizzying heights with somewhat ease (A gymnast in a past life perhaps?!).  Which leaves  the final member of the building team; the man mountain that is Danny, our loveable giant is there to lend his muscle and size to shift whole walls when needs be! Credit must go to the guys this week as we have suffered a wee bit from “Fiji time” as we have been waiting on a delivery of materials which have yet to materialise. Not stopping our guys though as they have been pushing on getting what they can get done completed with style.

Batiki July 12 - Week 3 (9)

Moving on to kindi and the guys have chosen a ‘numbers theme’ this week  for the little bundles of joy… developing the very basics, which will hopefully give the kids a little head start when they reach school. But as it’s kindi, it’s naturally got to be full of fun! And the ever willing ‘kindi climbing frame’ that is Josh can testify. Kirsty is on hand to relieve the jungle gym and gets all the kids up and involved in song time. Perhaps enjoying song time a tad too much Kirsty?  And then we have our very own tooth fairy Emma on hand to supervise toothbrush time ensuring all “nashers” are spotless and handing out a sticker to the best brusher of the day! The guys in kindi have done amazingly well and at the end of every week you can see how the kids have progressed

Batiki July 12 - Week 3 (8) Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (2)

Just like the kindi kids will do very soon, we move on and up to school and class 1 and 2 where Chloe has been taking the class more and more on her own and growing into her teaching roll. She has also been taking a small group of kids on her own for the very first Batiki Running Club, as part of sports coaching sessions, which all of the team take part in every weekday.

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Benjamin has been in class 3 and 4 again and although the class has been busy doing a lot of assessments this week he was always ready to lend a helping hand to those kids who needed. One of the many highlights for everyone this week was Benjamin’s attempt at cracker eating in the physical section of the team quiz. Cramming all 3 crackers into his mouth at once and suffering the consequences (Anyone who has never witnessed this should try it for themselves)!

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (31) Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (17)

In class 5 and 6 Franky has been helping the kids particularly focusing upon their mathematics and despite not feeling 100% at the start off the week she battled on much to her credit and very appreciated by madam Litia (5&6 teacher).  I am glad 2 report that no sickness can keep Franky down and she is now back to full health and throwing herself even more than ever into the teaching projects! To the top of the school rota, in class 7 and 8 Anisha has been helping to sculpt the young minds before they leave Batiki school and go on to bigger things. Should we be a little concerned about what she has taught the kids though when she comes out with some classic lines like “I’m so full I feel 10months pregnant”?!

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (37) Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (39)

And with that our second working week is complete and there is still so much more. On Tuesday the team learnt bilo making –where they made themselves a traditional Fijian cup made from a coconut shell. Movie night, where the guys got to watch tv for the first time since stepping foot on to Batiki.

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (9) Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (19)

On Friday after sports the team had a trek up to first rock, where they can watch the sunset over the distant island of Ovalau, after which we visited Yavu, a village on the far side of the island and were treated to true Fijian hospitality with a massive feast followed by grog and Hop Hop until the early hours and then when the time came for bed they opened up their homes for us to stay the night!

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (16) Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (18)

Then when we thought we were going to have a quiet picnic with our families from Manuku we were treated to a “Lovo” the traditional Fijian style of cooking – where a pit is dug the food is placed on red hot stones and then buried to slowly cook producing beautiful food. On Sunday we attended church and take a breath to relax and recover after a hectic week that is Think Pacific life!

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (12) Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (15)

With the team entering their third week on Batiki it was time for the group to rotate through the volunteer  aims and experience a new part of the project. In kindi this week we have had Tommy ‘the live wire’ jumping all around the place making more noise than the kids themselves. Frankie when she wasn’t falling over had all the kids climbing over her so luckily Natalie was there to try and keep some order with the kids and volunteers! During the week they have been teaching the kindi kids about different fruits from abroad and also things under the sea as well as a new song for their song time which Frankie and Tom demonstrated for them, and of course lots of mayhem and mess!

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (20) Batiki July 12 - Week 3 (7)

For school this week we had Big Dan in class 1 & 2 with Madam Luisa where alongside teaching his lessons, Danny has been hosting story time whilst teaching the kids how to blow bubbles in soapy water, much to their delight. In class 3&4 we had Emma starting off helping Master Pate with the kids. Emma even got the chance to take the class by herself as Mater Pate had to head over to another island for a couple days so she had a helping hand from Alex and leader Euan to plan and direct school.  Ben File has been in class 5 & 6 assisting Mistress Litia to focus more closely with the kids who need extra help and with Master Philippe in 7&8 we had Alex who was keen to learn Fijian in his lessons as well as leading reading time and gardening with the kids.

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (26) Batiki July 12 - Week 2

For the building volunteer team we had Ben Grant, Josh, Kirsty, Anisha and Chloe. All of whom had never done building properly before, so it was there first time but you wouldn’t have been able to tell with the enthusiasm and skills demonstrated. In the week the team have attached the supports for the roof beams and nailed all the sheets of corrugated iron onto the roof and finished the shuttering off as well. Apart from painting the roof and interior, our community hall is now complete. An amazing achievement in such a short time!  In celebration of the roof being completed, the village organised some hop hop, grog and food and drink for the guys to thank them for what they had done and josh took no time getting to his feet and having a dance with the Fijian woman.

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (24)

Kirsty, Anisha and chloe have discovered a lot of blisters on their hands from using hammers and saws for the week ,but it didn’t stop them continuing anyway even after trying to hit their fingers into the metal instead of the nails they were supposed to be hitting.

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A new week also bought a new round of sports for the team as well, Natalie, Ben File and Kirsty all took the kids for swimming lessons during the afternoon as the tide was high, which believe it or not is great experience for the Fijian kids as quite a lot of them don’t know how to swim even though they are surrounded by water.

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (28)

Tom, Josh, Anisha and Emma all took Volleyball with the girls from the school and loved getting involved as well. Danny, Alex and Franky did some rugby coaching with the boys while Chloe and Ben Grant decided they wanted to do some running with the kids, however with the weather is getting really hot, so the running lessons quickly slowed and the guys joined in with the other sports instead.  The Running Club will have to take a backseat until the temperatures drop a little!

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (6)

This week also saw the team organise ‘house singing’ with the kids, so they split into 2 teams and both chose a song for their houses for the kids to learn and perform as a part of the house cup. Vono chose firework by kate perry and Logu Logu chose the school of rock theme song, and after just a few days of learning the kids are getting the songs together really well and soon it will be learning the dance moves which go with it and perfecting there performance ready for an end of project show!

Batiki July 12 - Week 2 (34)

So once again a week of hard and fulfilling project work has flown by and the team all seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Off project the team have had a busy week, on Monday night it was time for the boys to go goat hunting in the hills with the villagers so Tom, Alex, Ben Grant headed off up the mountain. Chloe joined along as well with the boys and they all dragged themselves across the floor through thorns and mud to reach the peak before then very quietly sneaking up on the goats and then the chase began, running around the hills trying to catch one, luckily one of the Fijian boys managed to catch a couple, but being too young, the goats luckily he got released. Even though the guys got cuts and bruises here and there from jumping around it was an unforgettable experience and another taste of true Fijian subsistence life.

Batiki July 12 - Week 3 (5) Batiki July 12 - Week 3 (6)

Tuesday brought the first of our five birthdays on project; Natalie turned 23 and so in traditional Fijian style she was treated to a birthday celebration of huge proportions, having a village meal in her honour including grog and hop hop, a huge birthday cake and some presents from the village and team as well. A birthday I am sure will be remembered for life. Wednesday and Thursday were relaxing nights for the team and Friday the volunteers headed off to Mua village this time for food and then hop hop and grog until the early hours of Saturday morning. And so once again we say goodbye to another week on project but look forward to the next 5 that are still to come!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Volunteer stories – Bula from Emma on Batiki Island!

Emma on Batiki Island

Bula from Batiki Island!

Wow! The first week is over already and what an amazing experience it has been so far…

We arrived at Manuku village to the whole island singing and welcoming us as we came in to shore, it was the most overwhelming feeling of happiness and joy I’ve felt and couldn’t help smiling ear to ear as the villagers came up to us with hugs and strong arms to carry our bags. We were soon placed in our families; I live with Natalie who has taken on the roll of my alarm clock in the mornings, if the village cockerel isn’t loud enough that is. We were treated to a big fish supper on our first evening followed by a welcome ceremony of Grog and Hop Hop where I was soon challenged to a dance off by one of the village ravers of which everyone was in stitches and shouting my name! I was laughing as I dared to get the chicken dance out; it was one of the best nights ever! The next morning the welcome continued with a service in the village church with the village men and women singing hymns, it was mesmerizingly beautiful and finished off the welcome amazingly.

Emma castaway Emma volunteering fiji

Since then it has just got better and better… The team is so close with us all having large amounts of banter and giggles most meal times. I’ve been working in the Kindi in Yavu village this week with children aged 3-5 years old and they are all cheeky monkeys yet an absolute delight. We hike 45 minutes to Yavu each day, since Monday it has got a little easier yet we all dread ‘death hill’ which seems never ending, however the view from the top is worth it! This week me, Kirsty and Josh have been teaching the Kindi kids the rainbow song and building up their knowledge on colours with fun guessing games and arts and crafts which has gone down very well with the little rascals.

I, Frankie and Chloe have been coaching hockey every afternoon to groups of girls aged 6-12 years each day which has been a blast, they love learning and getting involved which makes it so much fun. I’ve even had to get used to losing to younger players, their just too good, I put it down to the level of coaching…

ben and emma in fiji emma franky

The island of Batiki is a place of absolute beauty as Manuku village is right on the beach with a large reef all around, coconut trees and happy smiling people wherever you go, it is a wonderful place to be. The food is incredible and we have been well and truly spoilt with cake every afternoon!

I love every moment of my time here in Batiki with my team and the villagers of Manuku and because today’s Friday in Fiji it only means one thing; Grog and Hop Hop till we drop. Lots of Love

Emma X

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Volunteer stories – Chloe’s first week of teaching in Fiji

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Hi Everyone!!

I have had a great first week in Batiki!  It has been pretty hectic but I have really enjoyed it!  I have been helping out in class 1 and 2 at school this week (6&7 year olds) which is tiring but definitely rewarding. I have taught them a rhyme “Little Betty Blue” and we have put actions to it.  We have also read & recited a story-book together, played the ‘colour game’ which they really enjoy and we’ve done some addition and subtraction.  I have had the class to myself a few times as the teacher (Madam Louisa) had to supervise an exam.

The children are really enthusiastic, sometimes they just pluck random answers out of thin air, but after helping them and showing them ways of working questions out, they have improved loads!  I have also been teaching the children (and the teacher!) to play the recorder which they love!  We have a 50 minute trek to and from school each day through the rainforest which is quite tiring but there are spectacular views over the whole island when you climb the hills.

Chloe in Fiji Chloe

On the evenings, we have done basket weaving, which was really fun, had a quiz, and I have been socialising with my family, especially Caroline who is 20 years old, as well as Rapeni (14) and Alisi (7), who are all really nice.  Tomorrow my Fijian mum is going to teach me how to make bracelets and rings (woven with palm tree leaves), as she made me a bracelet yesterday and is making us rings today for the hop-hop later!  So overall I am having a brilliant time – see you all soon!


Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Moturiki Island – The first week in Uluibau village

Uliubau Week 1 Blog-

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The village of Uliubau have surpassed any expectations of the renowned Fijian hospitality. From the moment we met our families we have been welcomed as part of this amazing community. The Fijian’s have opened their homes to us in a way one could never imagine. From the moment we dropped our bags beside our bed we became part of the family.

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It is strange to think we have only been here a week. The caring and loving nature of a beautiful place, filled with kind people makes it easy to settle. Already we walk the village freely visiting each other’s homes for cups of tea, dropping those passing a friendly Bula!

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Before arriving in Uliubau on Saturday we were treated to a rare and special occasion. Whilst on Leluvia, during the briefing stage of the expedition the team openly accepted the invitation to attend a Fijian wedding. In doing so we danced around the wedding gifts with the villagers of Niubasaga.

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After our welcoming church service on Sunday and first experience of hearing the choir sing their hearts out, it was time for the work to begin. Monday morning the project got well under way as we began our first rota in the Kindi, school and on the build.

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On the build, the team have worked tirelessly to dig the foundations and cement the first few rows of blocks in what will be Uliubau Community hall’s new toilet block. In cementing the concrete blocks Jilly and Torquil in particular have picked up some new skills with the trowel in hand.

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In school, Jenny has been outstanding in teaching class 7 and 8 English, Steffi and Ella have had class 4 all to themselves and Aimee has displayed her experience with the younger ones.

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After transferring the daily sessions into the brand new kindy built in Daku by the January TP team. Alice, Alex, Alejandra and Jodie have implemented a new routine which the kids have really taken on board. The kindi team have managed to share their knowledge and enthusiasm to achieve a more productive learning environment for the children. Whilst still providing themselves as climbing frames!

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For one hour after school each day the field has poured with laughter and kids going wild. The team have delivered what can be deservedly described as exceptional sports sessions centred round the children learning through play. Steph’s warm-ups have been a hit, as have Natalie and Steffi’s obstacle course.

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Outside of the project day the team have immersed themselves within the Fijian culture. Taking part in night spear fishing, numerous kava (grog) sessions, hop hop (dancing which has been sending the ladies wild) as well as mat, basket and fan weaving.

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Overall the week has been sensational and we start as we mean to go on. We look forward to next week as we prepare for the school fundraiser and community sports matches.

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Senga na lenga!

We send our love to family and friends back home!

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Batiki Island – An update from our volunteer team on Batiki

gap year fiji

Since arriving into the village last week, the team have thrown themselves into the project and village life. We were welcomed on the beach by the whole of the Manuku community, who were singing songs as we stepped off the boats inside the beautiful Batiki reef. The team were quickly introduced to what will be their new families for the next 8 weeks and the community were beyond excited to meet their new guests!

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After enjoying some traditional Fijian food, the team held a Sevu Sevu for the village (a Fijian welcome custom) and then were fully introduced to the hop hop and grog, which everyone took to really well, with the dancing continuing late into the night.

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Sunday was the first chance for the team to experience Fijian church services and the sound of the Fijian men and women singing hymns, the team were blown away by their voices, after which the entire village sat down together for lunch in a bamboo hall, which the community had erected so the team and village could share meals and kava ceremonies together. The volunteers were able to try loads of different Fijian foods and the rest of Sunday afternoon was spent relaxing in the community and by the beach and getting to know their families. The team then began planning with our expedition leaders, setting the volunteering rota and deciding what they would like to do for the first two weeks of project.

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Danny, Alex, Tom, Natalie and Ben File all decided to work on the construction project with our building manager Jack and leader lulu. Emma, Kirsty and Josh went into kindergarten with leader Euan and the last of the team went into school with leader Luke. Chloe chose to start teaching class 1&2, Ben Grant went into class 3&4, Franky went into class 5&6 and Anisha helped in class 7&8.

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For the first week of the building project, the team started on the foundations of the community hall which will be built, sawing posts, digging holes and mixing concrete. During the next eight weeks the entire building will be created, so it is no small task for our team of 11 volunteers and 3 leaders!

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The building team also experienced more Fijian culture when they put the first post into the ground, the priest of the island blessed the build and the team and the villages took it in turns to shovel a spade of concrete around the first post, before then having some grog with the priest and villagers in celebration.

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By the end of the week all the posts had been concreted, including the supports and frame for the bottom of the hall.  A huge task completed and a testament to the hard work of everyone involved!

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In kindi, Emma, josh and kirsty came up with the idea of a ‘rainbow week’ where each day the theme would be a different colour, upon which lessons and learning would be themed around. On Friday they had face painting day which the kids really enjoyed, with all the village children leaving school with a rainbow on their faces to the amusement of the Fijian parents.
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In school the team spent the first day overlooking the class and getting to know the teachers and kids. As it was exam week it was a slow start to the teaching but by the end of the week the exams were drawing to a close and our volunteers could start to add their own ideas and inspiration into the classrooms.

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In class 1&2 Chloe was teaching the kids mathematics and Chloe also organised some fantastic recorder classes in the afternoons, which are going to prove very popular in the weeks ahead from the initial reaction of the students!  Ben was assisting headmaster Pate with science and Franky helped with arts and crafts making a collage of “things that help us”, which the teacher pinned up on the wall for all the school to see.  In class 7&8 Anisha worked with the older kids who were still revising for their exams, offering some personal tuition as well as having the whole class enthralled by telling them stories.

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Each afternoon sports has been on the agenda and the team have been inspiring the kids with new games, activities and training. It’s not only the kids who are getting fit too, as the walk to school and sports each day from Manuku village is 45 minutes through the jungle and round the coast! The team have not complained once about the trek in fact it’s been a highlight; singing, laughing and joking to and from the school and enjoying the incredible scenery of Batiki and the distant islands and reefs of the Lomaiviti group.

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This week Danny, Tom and Ben File have been coaching rugby, Ben Grant, Alex and Josh took the kids for football training, Natalie, Kirsty and Anisha had the girls for netball and Chloe, Emma and Franky taught hockey. The sports sessions last an hour every day, but in the heat of Fiji, that’s a long time running around!  Each day the team walk back to Manuku where the boys in the village are usually waiting for a game of rugby or volleyball on the beach, so the sports sometime continues until dark.

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After dinner during the week the team also participate in different activities organised by the leaders and also the villagers.  This week some of the team learnt how to make Fijian baskets out of coconut branches and Ben File, Alex, Tom and leader Luke went out night spear fishing with a couple of the Fijian boys which was thoroughly enjoyed! A couple of the boys even managed to catch some fish, very impressive on their first outing!

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After project on Friday all the team came over and we cleaned out the boarders house so that the kids will be able to stay at school for the next 5 weeks, all the team got involved and were all singing and laughing whilst doing it which was great to see and it was really appreciated by the teachers and headmaster of the school. Then on Friday night it was time for more Fijian parties! The team enjoyed some hop hop and grog with the villagers and many more Fijians from the other villages of Batiki who trekked the island to meet our group.

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Saturday saw the team spend time with their families, exploring Batiki and enjoying the sunshine after a hard but very rewarding first taste of project work! Anisha and Chloe went for a walk and picnic with their family as did Josh and Alex who also went spear fishing with theirs. Ben Grant went for a walk with his family around batiki and had some lunch in batiki bay, for the guys who stayed in the village they were taught how to make hats out of coconut tree leaves by the villagers, after which the team spent the night with their families, telling stories and sharing jokes.

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So now Sunday is here and the team are very grateful for their well-earned rest, the team have started their volunteering at a phenomenal pace and have settled into life in the village so quickly.  Everyone is on an a high at the moment and getting stuck into every opportunity which comes their way. The good news is,  we’ve only just begun!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Nairai Island team – First expedition photos

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Our Nairai team are all doing fantastically well, having enjoyed their first few days as castaways in their Fijian paradise.

With many of the team choosing to fly into Fiji early, our group of 18 volunteers have had plenty of time to get to know each other and relax into the slow pace of Island life. 

After the past week of briefings with the Fijian Ministry and time to sunbathe and enjoy the beautiful Lomaiviti lagoon, the next and most exciting phase of their expedition is almost upon us!  This will be the first team ever to visit Nairai Island, so the anticipation is building! 

The Fijian community of Vutuna village who will soon be hosting our team are eagre to welcome their first TP group to their little island.  The project is of huge importance;  We’ll be providing vital assistance to the local primary school, which is in such a poor condition that it faces closure without the vital building work we will be carrying out over the next 4 weeks. We’ll also be launching the first youth, kindergarten and sports programmes for the islands’ children. 

The team are all set to immerse themselves into the challenges and adventures of traditional Fijian life and we’ll be exploring the island during adventure days – from trekking the jungle to spear fishing and snorkelling the outer reefs. This is a place only a handful of people from outside of Fiji have ever been lucky enough to visit with Nairai being so cut off from tourism, it’s makes this another unique TP expedition.

With three teams now in full swing across the island province, our incredible Fijian summer has begun!