Archive for October, 2012

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

School sport continues to flourish in the Lomaiviti Islands!

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Sport has been a big focus of the volunteering agenda this month on both Batiki and Nairai Island and as always, our volunteers have thrown themselves in!  With all the new equipment we’ve provided to the islands recently, it’s been time to put the kit into action and really inspire the children to get involved!  Following on from the huge success of the ‘Think Pacific Olympic Games’ held by our July team, our Autumn 2012 volunteers have taken on the challenge to continue and push forward their roles as sports coaches even further.  With daily coaching taking place every afternoon for hundreds of kids and plans afoot for youth tournaments and house cup games across the islands, our aim is to make sure sport continues to grow.

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The children also passed a few of their skills across to our volunteers recently, as they taught our team how to perform a Cibi, similar to the Kiwi’s ‘Haka’ and the traditional Fijian war dance performed by the Fijian National Rugby Team to unnerve their pre-match opponents!

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Naturally rugby and Netball are always the favourite for the kids and we have seen some incredible little Fijian stars of the future spotted already on both islands. The key aim from the Ministry is for Think Pacific volunteers to open the children up to all kinds of new activities, games and sports.  So, from football and hockey to the high jump and bat and ball games, each afternoon we’re turning the community fields of the Lomaiviti into a sports extravaganza and we look forward to this growing even further as the projects continue to develop across more and more villages and schools.

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Batiki – A fantastic start for our five week volunteer team

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Our October five week expedition team arrive to Batiki and the start of their long anticipated volunteer project and Fijian adventure!  After the fun of their castaway briefing and a stop in Fiji’s old capital Levuka on Ovalau Island, to refuel and stock up on last minute items, the team finally made it on to the boats and off to beautiful Yavu village on Batiki Island.

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Our team were welcomed on the beach by the entire community and kids who were eager to meet their new friends from afar!  The volunteers were introduced to their Fijian homes for the next four weeks and to their new Fijian families.

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After tea the team held a traditional sevu sevu welcome ceremony with the Chief (Ratu) of the village and then it was time to break into dance for grog and hop hop until late into the night. The guys were all so happy to finally be on Batiki and after their time relaxing on the castaway island, for their real Fijian experience to have begun!

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On their first full day in the community, our volunteers were shown around Yavu village, they visted the kindergarten school, built by our past team and then trekked all of 100 yards to the school compound, where they would soon be assisting in all elements of the school.

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Next it was time to view the proposed building site, where lots of hard work will soon take place! The team will be building a library for the school to store all their stationary, reading materials and books.

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In the afternoon it was time for the team to plan rotas!  The team all decided what they wanted to do for their first week on project. Yasmin and our first ever Australian volunteer, Sanna, both decided to tackle kindi and they started with a bang, planning poems and songs and writing their own ones as well. Sanna even wrote out the alphabet Fiji style for the little kids in preparation for a big day of teaching. The girls also made pictures of flowers and cut them out so that the kindie kids could colour them and create their own garden. Creativity abounds and with this fabulous start, Kindergarten is going to be a whole lot of fun ahead!

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On the build, the boys stepped up for the challenge for week one. Big Phil, Ellis, Oly and Callum got stuck into digging and sawing for the first couple of days as the foundations of the building came together nicely. By Friday the boys had the squaring of the building complete and all the posts concreted in and ready for the flooring braces.

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As for school, Charlotte went straight into classes 7&8 to help Master Philippe with the older kids, Eva went into class 5&6 with mistress litia and Lauren helped out in classes 1&2 with madam luisa. Lauren seemed right at home in class 1&2 helping the kids with singing in the morning and then some English and maths in the afternoon. Charlotte was left with a massive task when Master Philippe had to leave for a day and she was in charge, but she took the class for the entire day with skill and ease. Eva has also settled into the swing of Fijian school incredibly well, teaching classes 5&6 with mistress litia.

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Friday on Batiki saw the team and village celebrate ‘Fiji day’. The entire island went to the school for a big fundraising event. In the afternoon the team headed to Mua Village for a feast and then with what seemed like the entire island who came to visit for a massive night of hop hop and grog, which continued until the early hours!

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Saturday saw the team wake up early and take a big trek to first rock, where the first ever people on batiki arrived centuries ago. They were lead by the children of yavu who are always exited and eager to spend as much time as they can with our volunteers.

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In the evening Callum, Ellis, Olly and Lauren and our Fijian building manager jimbo, headed out crab hunting. It was mainly jimbo who caught all the crabs as the guys screamed and ran around! But they all seemed to enjoy themselves on their little hunter gatherer adventure all the same!

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Already a week has gone by and on Sunday it was time for the entire team to have a good rest. The team attended village church in the morning with their families and after planning their roles  for week two on the rota, it was time to kick back Fiji style! An afternoon swinging in hammocks and sleeping by the beach is the perfect way to regaining their strength for what will be another busy week volunteering on Batiki Island!

We will be uploading all of these photos to our Facebook Page for friends and family also

Vinaka, the tp team on Batiki!

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Nairai community health day a huge success

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On Saturday morning the team got together with the island nurse to implement the debut Think Pacific community health day. In standard Fijian style – 45 mins from the start we only had four members of the community in the shed. We had our worries of the day’s achievements, however, the villagers began to role in and one hour later we had the majority of the adult community in attendance.

Dividing the villagers between four groups of the TP team, each group participated in a health workshop, which was structured similarly to that of a Ministry of Health island workshop. After deciding on relevant topics, the groups brainstormed to create a poster presentation. Topics presented were: smoking, cuts and scrapes, drinking alcohol/kava and diet. Add to that a small presentation from the leaders on dental hygiene.

Considering the slow start, it is safe to say that not only was the morning a great opportunity for the team to interact with the adult population of the village, some which they may not do so otherwise. But also an enormous success in providing a basic knowledge of the most relevant health issues in our village. Of which is sure to accomplish positive results in the imminent future and long term. First and foremost – less sugar!!

Given the evident success, and potential project legacy, we shall be giving the workshop another go in Lawaki very soon. Not only for its intended goals of health education but also in the hope witnessing another poster presentation from a village Ratu (chief) and Turrani (spokesperson). A golden moment!

Word has since spread of the positive impact of the health day. More villagers across Nairai have requested we host our health workshop in their communities also.  With the success and popularity, our health workshop will hopefully be a central aspect of Think Pacific expeditions in the long term, passing hugely beneficial messages of healthy lifestyles across the outer islands.

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Volunteer stories – from Germany to ‘Fiji time’

Johann Johann volunteering in Fiji

“Fiji-time” – what does this mean for your life?

“Fiji-time” is an expression that is used with great pleasure by Fijians as an excuse for delays. Most things in the South Pacific take more time, meeting at one means in between one and two. There’s no rush in the communities and at the same time people don’t blame you for being late. Generally, there much less quarrel, this village is the most peaceful place that I have ever been to.

The people appreciate and welcome each person into their house at any time, you might be asked five times to come in for a cup of tea when walking through Tovulailai in the afternoon. I’ve never felt unwelcome at any time since I’m in Fiji, quite the reverse, everybody does their best to make each member of TP feel at home. And so, I try to give my best to the community. Coaching sports to the children after school is what makes me feel most happy here every single day, because I see that I’m on the right track when the kids are having fun.

Sure being here also brings relinquishment: like a cold shower, a long walk to school every day and different food you may not always like. Though this shows me on one hand how I should appreciate the wealthy life in my home country, yet on the other hand that the people of Tovulailai teach me what is really important in life. Sharing and respecting everyone else.

There is trust in the village inhabitants and in the TP-Team, nothing is locked. Leading a humble life isn’t really hard for me anymore since I’ve recognised that the wealth of the life in Fiji is the community. This is such a unique experience, because it is much more than just a donation of goods and human labour. It is an exchange of the different cultures and I’m glad that I can do something good and at the same time learn a lot about social behaviour. This is just week three, though I know that the next weeks will be some of the most valuable ones in my life.


Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Nairai Island – Volunteer project diary and photos from our ten week team

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Week 2 started with a heart-warming church service where the village formally welcomed us into the community. It was a fitting service which gave us our first experience of the amazing village choir. We all left the church in great spirits which prevailed throughout the week.

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Having experienced what was expected from the average project day it didn’t take long for us to be in full swing as we headed into our final week of our first rota. Danni, Fiona, Aly and Becki continued with their amazing start to kindi, the daily routine put in place by these girls has been outstanding and the children’s progression is already evident. Toothbrushing time is a real highlight for the girls, as the children become ‘creative’ with their tooth brushes and toothpaste.

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In school this week brought the introduction of the small study groups, with Lizzie and Bronwen assisting children falling behind in classes 4, 5 & 6 for specific 1 on 1 learning in English, Maths and Reading. Bernadette assisted in class 7 & 8 and took the opportunity to lead whole class teaching during their revision lessons. Bryony again assisted with the lively classes 1,2 & 3 and also helped out Bernadette in the revision classes. It was a very busy but successful week in school, which was further emphasized with the beginning of the House cup.

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House Art and House Photography kicked off the competition. We was split up into the 4 school houses; Dolphins (Chris, Lizzie and Bryony), Stingray (Michael, Johann, Bronwen and Bernadette), Barracudas (Nathan, Becki and Will) and Sharks (Fiona, Fabio, Danni and Aly). The theme chosen for the House Art competition was ‘Space’, with the majority of the teams opting to replicate the solar system, Barracudas thought outside the box to create an alien costume.

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House photography is aimed at allowing the children to be let loose with the cameras, having fun whilst posing and taking pictures, this competition was stepped up a gear with the kind contribution from bryony who equipped every child with a disposable camera.

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With the foundations set last week on the build, the only way was up for the boys, who again continued to get ‘stuck-in’ and bring the building out of the ground. It was the the boys sawing competitions, keeping us entertained ‘on-site’ this week. By the end of the week we could see the result of our hard work as the building now has the framing fitted for the 4 walls. The boys have worked extremely hard this last 2 weeks and now hand over the tools to the all-girl building team who are determined to better them.

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Monday night was ‘the C.L.A.Ns’ (Chris, Lizzie, Aly and Nathan) turn to write the quiz. It was great quiz which we all enjoyed, finishing with a rap battle where Langer the lyrical genius demonstrated his rhyming skills.

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Tuesday night was the 1st opportunity for some of the team members to be taken on a night spear fishing trip. Becki, Fiona, Michael and Will were the 1st volunteers to take part in the surreal experience with Will returning with 3 fish but still no eyebrows. Wednesday night saw us congregated in the shed with our fellow villagers teaching us how to weave baskets, with the men hosting, it was no surprise that the grog was flowing.

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Thursday night we were treated to a movie night, a chance to kick back and relax as we watched The Hangover, followed by a question and answer session with Langer about Vegas. The working week was finished with a well-deserved packed out  hop hop session as we drank grog and danced the night away with the Fijians, Fiona was clearly enjoying herself letting out the trademark Fijian ‘wooo’ and banging the iron roof of the shed, much to the delight of the villagers.

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Apart from Lizzie and Fiona who were having far too much fun at hophop, we turned in for an early night in preparation for a big sporting weekend of community rugby and netball matches. The week finished as we relaxed and recovered from the sports matches with a chilled out grog session hosted by Becki and Fiona, as we reflected on the week’s events and look forward to the experiences ahead.

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Nairai Island – An amazing welcome to Fijian life!

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When we first arrived in Fiji, the team spent a few days on the paradise island Leleuvia to get acquainted to the new surroundings, “to settle into Fiji-time”. After some days of rest, volleyball matches and quiz nights the new team mates got to know one another.

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On our first night in Tovulailai, our final destination in the south pacific, the host families sang songs and welcomed us warmly with flower necklaces. It was a very prestigious welcoming; the village chief presented the most respected gift of the Fijian culture to the team – the Whales tooth!

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The first few days in the small village have been exciting for the TP-Team, as for the Fijian community. We were invited to traditional Grog ceremonies and the team have let this side of Nairai know that TP can party with their Hop Hop (dancing).

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The families are doing their best to make the volunteers feel at home, surpassing any of our expectations. Being accepted as sons, daughters, brothers and sisters has meant this place already feels like a home from home.

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To start the project, Danni, Beccy, Fiona and Ally have opened a new kindergarten in tremendous style. Wasting no time in transforming the empty house they have adopted with visual aids. It has been song time which has had the place bouncing – “Banana’s unite” and the “Moose song” has caught on and can be heard anytime throughout the day!

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The rest of the girls have kicked off the first TP team in the Deveta school. Bernadette has helped the headmaster with class 7 & 8 – turning hangman into a class favourite! Bryony has kept control of the nippers in class 1, 2 & 3 whilst teaching Maths. Bronwen and Lizzi have had the children of class 4, 5 & 6 out on the field with a practical space lesson – the children being planets and walking round one another.

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Meanwhile the boys have got down to some manual “graft” as they begin to build a new girls dormitory at school. Within a week they have dug, cut and cemented the foundation posts, add to that Will losing his eye brows because of an “on-site” bet.

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The whole team meets at lunch time at school and dons the coaching cap: teaching rugby, netball, football, rounders and hockey to the students. Nathan’s heading game has been a hit – giving header and catch the opposite meanings has created a good few laughs at the volunteer’s expense.

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We ended the school week with a youth camp on Friday afternoon, themed solely for Langer’s love for Pirates. Lead by Tom and Nige the team took part with the children. Naming their group “ships” they competed in team games and sports.

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After a tiring week on project, and a lie in, we jumped on the boats to spend our Saturday relaxing on a tiny island off Nairai – fishing, swimming, snorkeling and playing volleyball. The lunch we helped prepare was lovo (traditional underground oven), we cooked the fish and lobster we caught (helped) and ate them out of clam shells. The day was almost too good to be true and a perfect end to the week.

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Having shaken off the “grog over” from the previous nights of hop hop, notably Will’s birthday, we accepted the invitation to a Grog ceremony in the neighbouring village of Lawaki, where we shall stay for our last four weeks on the island. It is a true privilege to take part in such cultural events with two communities who similarly enjoy spending the evenings with us in this traditional way. Even if it is just to hear Fiona sing!

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It has been a great start to project – having settled and become accustomed to Fijian life. Bring on week two and the start of the house cup!