Archive for August, 2012

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Batiki Project – A party atmosphere lights up Batiki Island

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The weeks seem to be coming and going in a flash at the moment. Days are filled with project work and evenings spent partying in the island communities and sampling all the delights of the laid back traditional island life of Batiki.

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The normal routine has been filled with celebrations. It’s been BIRTHDAY TIME in Fiji, giving a real party buzz to the expedition!

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As well as new rotas and new roles and activities for the team to get their teeth into, we’ve had a recent trip to Fiji’s old capital of Levuka on Ovalau Island. Everybody went except Ben F who wanted to stay on Batiki for every second – He spent the day with Lulu and they both took an early morning jog across the island to watch the Olympic 100m final on the “tellybox”. Breaking our own cross island time in the process!

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The rest of us all set off on the boats to Levuka getting a tad wet on the way across. Not dampening anyone’s spirits however and when we arrived chocolate was the first port of call. I should point out the trip is also a chance for the guys to stock up on things like shampoo, toothpaste etc and of course CHOCOLATE!

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As the time came to leave, It seemed one of the boats hadn’t seen enough of Levuka and wanted to stay a while longer. Engine trouble forced the decision that one boat would stay the night and come back the next day. Franky, Anisha, Tom, Josh and Emma all volunteered to stay and spend the night in Fiji’s oldest hotel, returning to Batiki the following day.

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As we arrived back, it was time for our first birthday celebrations. Ben and his 18th “cough” birthday. Is that your second 18th Benji?!

Kindi madness lay in store for his birthday treat but not hogging all the fun Danny and Ben F went to the wonderful world of kindi as well to enjoy an animal themed week. A feast awaited the team at night when we returned, put on for Ben’s birthday with plenty of cake, grog and hophop to last well into the night!

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The next day and no time to recover from birthday number one and this time it is an 18th  (for real this time!) for our little Emma. We are greeted at breakfast with a beautiful cake, which Franky had made.

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And of course preparations for another monumental Party! Emma’s turn to be serenaded as she was escorted by two very fearsome Fijian warriors “Danny and Ben F” and spoiled with more cake more grog and more hop hop dancing for another all night Fijian party.

Despite all the late nights and fun times, there’s been no slacking for our guys on the volunteer projects.  Up early and into kindi, build and school this week with everyone raring to give their most to achieve the aims by day.

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The build kicked off with full steam and continued work to fix the walling and the start of the floor being put down. Josh showing some impressive handyman skills!

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Then from build we trek across to school as we do every week day Tom spending most of the way on his bum due to the tricky underfoot conditions! Once we got there for the continuation of the house cup and rehearsals of house singing.

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Alex and Chloe have returned for their second stint in school. Both doing incredibly well to inspire the excited kids, who were delighted to see them return. We have two new teaching assistants this week with Natalie and Kirsty who are now fully involved and enjoying this side of their Fijian experience.

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On one of our rare free nights, Chloe went out into the night hunting not goats this time, but crabs, a very tasty treat for the team! And for the weekend ahead, we have a nice little change for the guys; a night off from hophop and grog, as all the team have a relaxing family weekend of picnics on the beach, volleyball and swimming. This should set them up nicely for another big week volunteering in their Fijian paradise.

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Batiki Island – Natalie’s Fijian birthday blog

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Hi to all reading this back home, thank you for all my birthday cards and messages!! I had a great start to my birthday being woken at 6am by my Fijian mum singing happy birthday with a big chocolate cake and candles lit, had a piece of cake with my new little sister Emma and mum before breakfast. Was the best cake ever, which Susan my Fijian sister in Mua village had made!

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I had a great day at kindi, I’ve never seen kids so excited when we mentioned balloons!! Once home I enjoyed  another piece of cake with Emma, Frankie, Kirsty  and my Fijian sister Mary. After an ice cold shower to freshen up for my birthday party. Mum gave me a beautiful dress and handmade earrings. Once I was ready I was sitting waiting getting nervous of what was to come. When I noticed two half naked warriors with flame torches outside our house!

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Mum said they were going to walk me to the hut for my party. Now feeling very nervous but also excited we made our way to the hut seeing every one sat in the hall that had been beautifully decorated for me. After a few words from the priest of the island and I gave a speech too, we tucked into the lovely food and another amazing cake, then the grog and hop pop began. It will definitely be a birthday to remember!

See you all when I get home!
Natalie x

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Nairai Island – Volunteer project update from our July team!

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What a week the Nairai team have had! Nairai’s Got Talent rounded off what was a superb week with the strangest and most surreal acts Vutuna village have probably ever seen! The team led by Emily, Phil and Ayla created a variety of acts for the village’s enjoyment which raised a massive $117 for Waitoga Village School.

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From Tom and Alex’s grog song, Phil’s peg leg, cross dressing from boys that were a little too comfortable in their colourful dresses, an animal machine made by a scientist from Yorkshire which was polished off by a finale of a TP remake of the Snow White classic “Hi Ho”, the talent show had the whole of Nairai in hysterics for the evening. This paragraph probably makes little sense to any reader outside of Vutuna last Saturday evening but the Nairai team sure did put on a show! The children introduced their own items as well which made the evening even more memorable for the volunteers! Vinaka Nairai, vinaka!

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How the team found energy for such a performance shows their passion for being on project as earlier in the day various activities took place. Becky, Louise, Lauren, Claire and Ayla all went fishing with their respective families. Arguments have emerged as to who is the favourite daughter in Becky, Louise and Lauren’s family is down to who caught the most fish. Rumour has it that Becky got the most? The girls joined the Vutuna ladies for an afternoon of netball which ended in a closely fought 14-11 victory for Lagakali. The girls quickly understood the feisty nature of the Fijian ladies and employed these tactics to get them through!

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Tom, Ben, Charlie, Alex, Ricey and Rob enjoyed an afternoon of Rugby Sevens with 5 village sides coming together at the school compound from across Nairai. The group stages saw some fast paced rugby in wet conditions with all our TP boys qualifying for the semi-finals. Unfortunately, Vutuna were narrowly beaten in the final to a strong Waitoga side (potentially down to some dodgy refereeing decisions from leader Charlie).

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Project life this week has been buzzing as the team have really settled into Fijian life. Jess, Amy, Tom, Ben and Emily have made great progress with the kindi children focussing on numbers and introducing new songs AKA “The Music Man”: an absolute tune in the eyes of Raymond, Siti and Pate (Kindi favourites). Amongst the carnage of the week, our kindi crew ended on a high with a very royal affair for Princes and Princesses Day. Glitter, games, crowns, the works was the only way forward. The kindi team have taken a massive leap this week and they have seen a real improvement in the confidence of the children. It bodes well for our final rota starting on Monday.

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Ayla, Claire, Hannah and Alex were assisting our teachers this week. Despite the disruption of exams, the team were able to put together key revision classes ranging from Health Science to English across all age groups. The House Competition continued with public speaking. The finals will be held in a couple of weeks and the team have worked alongside the children to improve their techniques. The competition is extremely close between the four houses at the moment; the finals will be immense!

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Out on the sports field, cricket and netball were new sports added to the agenda which the children loved. The boys have never experienced cricket before so their enthusiasm was more than ever! Phil also took small groups out to sea for their first taste of swimming lessons. He was able to practice lifesaving with the seniors, so they have managed a real variety this week.

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Also on the school compound, the build has taken great shape at the end of week two. The sceptic tank and the framework for the toilet block has been completed, impressive stuff for Ronnie to see on Monday!

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Village activities included bilo making and Tom, Alex, Louise, Amy and Phil were taken by the Waitoga boys outside the reef for a spear fishing extravaganza which brought home lobsters.

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Friday night launched the start of the epic weekend. With Lauren back, fit and well, the team were Lawaki bound for an evening of grog and hop hop. Once again, Tpers did not disappoint with their fantastic moves that impressed the Lawaki villagers.  With project life in full swing, the Nairai team are having an absolute blast!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Nairai Island – Think Pacific team host an island Olympics

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With the recent Olympic fever in the UK and the past couple of weeks of incredible sporting action, our team volunteering on Nairai Island have made sure they still joined in with all the fun! From the opening ceremony to the children’s hurdle races, the ‘Nairai Island Olympics’ were a huge success as our volunteers made sure that the Fijian kids got to experience a very special sports extravaganza!

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Moturiki Island – The final weeks of a unique Fijian experience

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With the team coming towards the end of the expedition and becoming fully accustomed to Fijian life, it was easy to see, how these final two weeks were going to make for a remarkable finish.  The team are now embedded within the Uluibau community and are going to be truly missed by their new adopted friends and families. Nevertheless going into week 3 there was still a lot of work yet to be done and the team wasted no time in getting to grips with the challenges ahead.

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This week the build was occupied by Alice, Craig, Jodie, Stephanie, Ella, Jodie, and Natalie. With building work needed to be completed by the end of this week in order for us to start painting, the volunteers had a huge job on their hands. Still this team love the challenge and set about the build as usual. On Monday the volunteers started the doors to the toilet cubicles, Tuesday was a huge day on the build with doors finished, windows fitted, sink and toilets fitted and the pipework started. Although the team worked their blood to water Tuesday they still didn’t let up Wednesday, with the doors fitted and the pipework to the septic tank completed.

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Thursday saw the introduction of the paint brushes with the team starting the first coat for the roof; they also started digging the way for the overflow.  At the start of the week the team were made aware of the challenge ahead and they didn’t fail to deliver as the build was completed on Friday, with the sealing of the septic and plumbing completed.  It was a huge effort by the volunteers and now puts us in a great position to start the painting and complete the build by Wednesday next week.

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Kindi was a huge success as the daily routine again went from strength to strength with the help from Aimee, Jenny, Torquil, Steffi and David. With a few birthdays within the class it was always going to be a hectic week, but the volunteers were superb and the children loved the party atmosphere, felt throughout the week. The new Kindi was also decorated this week with numerous wall displays such as days of the week, the human body, a birthday display and the all-important behaviour chart.

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This week in school was the one that all school children dread….Exam week. But with help of Alex in 7&8, Holly and Stephanie in class 4 and Jilly in class 3, the children were relieved to have that extra helping hand. The volunteers held revision classes throughout the start of the week and assisted in correcting any mistakes the children were making. They worked extremely hard and proved a huge help to the teachers and an enormous benefit for the children in trying to achieve the highest possible grades for the classes.

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Sports coaching was again, as fun and as loud as ever, with the volunteers choosing to carry on with the same sports as the previous week. The team have really come into their own with the sports coaching and the children are constantly looking forward to their next session, persistently asking ‘what sport have my class got today’.

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The team have now started to realise, that their grog and hop hop experiences are coming to a close, so the team headed into week 3 ready to party. Starting with Monday evening when team relaxed at the back of hall learning to weave bracelets to add to their souvenir collection, before the women arrived and the party began. With the band playing till midnight, the volunteers were put through their paces when dancing, the highlight being Alex’s dance moves, proving a favourite amongst the villagers. Tuesday hosted the quiz night, again with David and Alex quizmasters there was always going to be some interesting questions.

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Wednesday night the volunteers hosted  a kids hop hop night, with the kava substituted for ‘tang’ and the school children taking over the music duties it was always going to be a lively night. Thursday night was an evening, whereby Torquil, David and Alex won’t forget in a hurry as they had the chance to experience night spear fishing. All the boys caught adding to the surreal experience, which proved to be an incredible night that the guys will certainly be sharing with their friends and families back home.

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With the week seeming jam packed already, the team were also having to find time to prepare for the fun day, a day which brings a festival atmosphere to the village with all your original summer fair stalls and activities and if that wasn’t enough the team were also learning a girls and boys meke dance to perform to their fellow villagers.

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Friday afternoon, the village of Uluibau and the volunteers travelled across to the sports pitches of Moturiki district school, to lock horns with the village of Navuti in rugby and netball. Both games were closely fought and highly entertaining with Navuti taking the spoils in both encounters.

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With the volunteers working hard throughout the week and the village filled with excitement, Saturday couldn’t have come soon enough, as the team hosted Uluibau’s village fun day! The afternoon proved a great success with people turning up from all over Moturiki to take part in the various stalls and activities.

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With David and Alex in the stocks for soak the volunteers, it was always going to be a fans favourite with a line of eager children waiting to get their hands on the sponges. The cakes again didn’t take long to sell out as the stampede of villagers raced in an attempt to be the lucky few to get their hands on the delicious Oreo chocolate cake. The day finished with the much anticipated mekes, the villages screeches could be heard throughout the team performance of the traditional Fijian warrior dance. It was a successful day which helped raise $150 for the village.

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Week 4 began with a bang. Monday evening was fancy dress grog and hop hop, the theme being…cross dress! The boys swapped their bula shirt and sulu’s with the girl’s jumba dresses. A hilarious evening spent dancing with full grown Fijian men in dresses set the tone.

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Our toilets have been completed and the decorating has given the building a great finish. Ella designed a tribal style print which we all helped paint with our last few working days. The house competition reached an exciting climax with the debating finals won by the Yellow team and the Blue team taking the spoils of the quiz. Sports were passionately contested by all.

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On our final day in the village, Uluibau hosted a farewell church service. It was an emotional service, with the volunteers performing thank you speeches to the villagers for all their help, hospitality and friendship shown over the last 4 weeks. This left the whole service teary eyed, as the reality set in that the volunteers would be departing the next day. The whole village then congregated in the hall for a huge farewell feast.

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The team have certainly had grog and hop hop sessions in abundance throughout the expedition so it was no surprise that Uluibau went big for the final part. With the party going right through till 6 o clock in the morning, giving the volunteers enough time to collect their bags and have their final breakfast with their families.

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It was then time for the team to bid farewell to their new found families and friends and the village of Uluibau for the final time.  Our team headed from Moturiki and on to some well deserved rest and relaxation at the beautiful beach resorts of the Coral Coast.   A few days of sunshine and beers and enjoying their last week as a team were very welcome but it was a sad time also, as our July team look back upon an immense month shared with the incredible people of their Fijian village.

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Batiki Island – Round up of the past week volunteering in Fiji!

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The Batiki team have now completed their 4th week of project and cannot believe that they are half way through their expedition, the last week has flown by with the team hardly able to take a breath. Last weekend was a very packed few days for the team, after grog and hop hop in Mua village last Friday night they had breakfast in mua before heading back home to Manuku. Once back in the village the team relaxed for a bit before trekking over to Naigani village for a sevu sevu and some tea and cakes prepared for the team, it now means that the team have visited every village on Batiki Island. Sunday and the entire team and village headed over to Naigani village – along with the rest of the island – to have an island church service in Naigani.

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As for the last week of project, Anisha, Chloe, Kirsty, Ben Grant and Josh have been on the build again, after spending an entire week on the roof, the guys are now back on the ground level and have been completing the frame and supports for the sides and floor of the hall. They have also been measuring out where all the windows and doors will be going so now the empty frame of our community hall has been completed. But as there is no stopping our team by the end of the week they have even started on nailing on the walling so the building is really taking shape. They have put their all into it knowing that it is the last week of their two week rota on the building project.  Our building manager jack has thoroughly enjoyed working with them these last two weeks, so we want to say a really big thank you to them for it. Neither Anisha, Chloe, Josh, Ben Grant nor Kirsty have done building before so for them to have completed everything that they have in this short period on build they should all be very proud.

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Over to the school side this week and it has seen the team introduce house speaking and house debating, so with Alex in class 7 & 8 they have chosen to learn certain paragraphs from Martin Luther King’s speech, “I Have A Dream”. Alex has written his own poem for the kids called Sea Snake, which he read out and performed in front of the class on Friday afternoon. In class 5 & 6 Ben File taught the kids a speech called “Into The Valley” from the film, The Blind Side, as well as the children learning a story called The Hunter. For Emma in class 3 & 4 her kids learnt a Fijian song which they performed to the school at the end of the week, Emma also taught her class a speech from the film Tomb Raider which the kids are learning for their house speaking competition.

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Unfortunately the kids in classes 1 & 2 don’t participate in house speaking but that didn’t stop Danny from teaching them songs and rhymes throughout the week, he has also been making up stories for the kids about the team and leaders, one being called “Lulu the Bear” and another “Luke’s Ever Growing Beard”. The kids really enjoy their story time with Danny and his story time is a highlight for the rest of the team too!

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In Kindi this week, Natalie, Tom and Frankie have had the theme of ‘letters’, so during the week they have been getting the children to do different activities and games combining learning with fun. Natalie and Tom were alone for a couple days in kindi this week as Frankie injured her foot and was resting back at the village, but Natalie and Tom ploughed through together with the kids. When Frankie did return the team got the kids to draw and colour in all the letters in the alphabet, issuing a different latter to each child so they could have their own little projects. By the end of the week the kids had completed the alphabet and the team stuck it up onto the wall so that other teams can now use it with the kindi kids in projects to come.

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For sports this week the team had a change to their usual plan. All the kids were put into their classes and the kids had a week of Olympic trials! On Monday the kids had trials for the 100 metre sprint and the 100 metre hurdles, Tuesday was the long throw and the long jump, Wednesday was the 100 metre relay and on Thursday the kids had tug of war. During the weeks’ event the winning kids from each year were put through to the final, which will be taking place on the last day of school in two weeks, where the kids will run for their houses earning points which will then accumulate into an overall score to see which house will win the Olympic house cup.

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During the week the team were also taught by their families how to make Fijian bracelets out of leaves as souvenirs to take home, but it didn’t stop there, once the knowledge of how to make a bracelet was shared, the team were then making rings for their fingers and even hair bands as well. Wednesday night saw the team stay behind after sports at school and went for a swim in the sea with the children who are boarding, after which all the boarders and the team stayed on the beach to have a beach bonfire and watch the sun set over the distant island of Ovalau, an amazing view and night had by the team.

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Thursday and Friday night saw Yavu village, Mua village and Naigani village visit Manuku to see the team and look at how the building project is coming on, so that meant two things, grog… and hop hop. Both nights the team stayed up drinking and dancing with the villagers until the early hours of the morning.

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So with the weekend here and after another big week of volunteering, they are all glad to have a Saturday off, where they have been catching up with sleep, snorkelling, spear fishing, going to plantations with their families and generally relaxing.

Some of the girls started to play a game of rounders in the village and before long everyone was outside playing, with balls flying all over the village, before a very relaxing Saturday night, with nothing planned most of the team had an early night. With Sunday here again the team have been to church with the families and sorted out what they would like to do for their next 2 week rota, before preparing themselves for what will be the start of the second half of their project and a very busy week 5 indeed.