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.
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.
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
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.
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)!
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”?!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!