Archive for February, 2013

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Nairai 5-week team – volunteering and adventures in paradise


gap year fiji (2)

As the sun continues to shine in Waitoga, we are all left wondering where the first week has gone. Saturday saw the team venture out on an adventure to a peak overlooking the whole of Nairai. It wasn’t too long until the heat and terrain kicked in but with some slight coaxing half way up everyone who set off, slid and scrambled their way to the summit. The trek led the team through plantations, rivers, waterfalls and provided some unforgettable views at the top.  As we had conquered the peak, it seemed only right to erect a TP flag as a mark of our achievement!

gap year fiji (6)

The weekend continued with the team enjoying a day of relaxing with their new families and friends. Everyone has thrown themselves into this project wholeheartedly so the team definitely deserved a day to unwind and enjoy ‘Fiji Time.’ The Waitoga Church Choir also provided a humbling welcome for the team, showing how much they value each volunteer as a part of their tightly knit community.

gap year fiji (3)

There were no Monday Blues in Waitoga as the team hit the ground running. Kindi is now in full swing with the kids desperate to get going, a far cry from the first few days as tears were shed as parents wished their kids goodbye at the kindi door. The energy and motivation from the team has clearly rubbed off on the children who have adopted the same passion during Kindi with the volunteers. Kindi has seen the introduction of ‘mini Olympics,’ ‘limbo dancing’ and ‘three legged races’, which the kids have thoroughly enjoyed. This massive turnaround is a reflection of the first team of girls we sent in so to Laura Beasty, Cat, Phoebe and El, a massive hats off to you! The new challenge will be to keep up these high standards.

gap year fiji (5)

On Monday night our first team of spear fishermen and women, Lucinda, Cat, Laura Bevan (Bev) and Rob, ventured out into the Pacific Ocean armed only with a snorkel, spear gun and a very handy Fijian or two! Their haul was bountiful and even included some rather large lobsters thanks to Bev! Rob may need a tad more aiming practice with the old spear gun on the other hand. Not to worry though fella, we all still love you even though if it was down to you we would all starve! The spear fishing trip helped supply lots of fresh fish ready for Bev’s birthday and the whole team got dolled up and got ready for a good old Fijian party to celebrate Laura’s 19th birthday, a day she’s sure never to forget.

gap year fiji (1)

In school, Ella has become an instant success with classes 1 and 2. Combining learning with fun games, Ella has helped the children improve their maths and English skills. A natural teacher! And controlling 5 and 6 year olds isn’t easy work. In class 3 and 4, Eleanor has been in there working alongside the Head Master and sculpting the young minds that are no longer just full of snot, sugar and smiles. In class 5 and 6, Rose D has been there holding down the fort and has made quite an impression as she was handed farewell cards from her class on the last day. Then we get to the ‘cool’ teacher that is Mr Alex in class 7 and 8, handing out words of wisdom, far too many quotes and a fair few songs. The last day combined the talents of all the TP teachers in a big sing-a-long with the whole school.

gap year fiji (7)

The team have continued to impress on the build this week. Racing through the schedule, our Guru building manager Semi has been blown away by the team’s efforts and his in own words, the team have ‘smacked it!’ There’s been no stopping these guys! With Spice Girl day just one of the ways in which a Fijian build site is like no other (Sam you were definitely scary spice). Good craic, dodgy music, hammering contests all go hand in hand with the hard graft. When Josh, Rob and Sam have been doing heavy lifting and backbreaking work in the sun, where are the girls? Chilling in a hammock you say! No, our girls are not to be outdone by their male counterparts and are always able to match if not outdo them! So thanks to Sophie, Rosie F, Liz and Lydia (girl power!).  All joking apart the build has already grabbed the attention of the villagers so a vinaka vaka levu to all those who have put in big shifts.

gap year fiji (4)

The team has also put their creative skills to the test in designing an array of fun and effective sports coaching initiatives. This has provided structured, fun training that many of these kids will never have had before. This has varied from building on their love of sports like rugby and netball, to introducing new activities such as dance and frisbee.  With all this sport it’s hard to believe that there is time for anything else. However, the house cup has also kicked off this week with the four houses in the school competing against one and other in art and photography. The team have been outstanding in helping the kids produce some cracking displays.

Volunteering Fiji (1)

Waitoga have certainly gone the extra mile for the team, and again have shared their skills and knowledge in showing and getting the team to make their own “belos” (a cup for drinking grog), making it an unbelievable atmosphere in the village. From ‘geooorge’ the kitten, named by the girls in the ‘ghetto,’ to making samosas with their mums, the team have well and truly become part of this beautiful community.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Nairai ten week team – An action packed week and the meeting the think pacific teams!


Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (54)

Our kindergarten school is rising from the ground and with all the walls in place, the team can now see just how big the building will be.  It’s hard work in the hot sunshine, but with ever enthusiastic team work, we’re making huge progress!

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (65)

Meanwhile, in our makeshift kindergarten, the kids and volunteers have been hooked on the game ‘musical bumps’. Ciaran brought his speakers in to liven up the place with music and our numbered cards and games have really helped make learning more interactive.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (44)

Friday afternoon saw the team all put their marigolds on and head into school to give the classrooms a massive clean and a sparkling renovation; sorting out the book shelves, wiping the walls and windows and fixing chairs and tables so the school looked in great shape, much to the delight of the school teachers.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (52)

After their fine efforts for the school the team headed to the beach and hopped into the motor boats to visit their neighbouring village of Tovulailai. They presented a sevu sevu to the Ratu (chief) and lit up the village with an evening of dinner and grog.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (35)

‘Sports Saturday’ saw the team head to Lawaki School, where they played a community rugby game with the villagers of Tovulailai and Natauloa.  All the boys got stuck into the rugby, including some who had never played before, a brave task considering how seriously the Fijian boys take their rugby!  With the girls cheering from the sidelines, they put on a great match!

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (37)

Sunday afternoon was spent in true Fijian style; eating and relaxing. And it brought time to plan for the week ahead and the different projects.  Nick, Ciaren and Harry took on the challenge of teaching the primary school kids, James and Gordon put themselves down for the mayhem of kindergarten, while Henry, Dave, Georgia, Cheryl, Corinne, Poppy, Helena, Caroline, Robb, Ryan, Anna, Sarah and Ben all opted to be Think Pacific builders and push forward with our magnificent creation.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (30)

Rainbows were theme of the week in Kindi. Each day the kids chose different colours to focus their drawing, painting and games.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (28)

In school this week, the team started the ‘Public Speaking Programme’ an element of our school house cup, aimed at improving the children’s confidence and public speaking skills. Harry is teaching the owl and the pussycat, a nice rhyming poem and easy for the youngest ones to learn and remember.  Ciaran has powerful Nelson Mandela speech, which will test the middle aged kids. And Nick has an inspiring speech by Winston Churchill to teach to the oldest year.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (25)

Sports this week saw four new activities being introducing and coached, Helena, Caroline, Georgia, James, Henry and Anna decided to coach volleyball, Gordon, Ciaran and Cheryl took the kids for ultimate frisbie, Robb and Harry launched into Cricket Coaching. Sarah, Ryan, Nick and  led swimming lessons in the Pacific ocean and were surprised by how many kids didn’t know how to swim, despite being surrounding by water.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (24)

The build flew by this week. All four frames for the walls have been completed and braced as well as the doors and window frames completed. The beam for the roof has been attached and all the rafters have been cut to size and completed, so the entire shape and size of the hall is now complete. The team have been on great form on the build, with the sun shining down with no cloud cover for the entire week, it’s been a very hot one!  There were even a couple dance routines, including the infamous Gangnam style routine.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (21)

With stomach bugs going around this week, it’s a testament to the team how enthusiastically they’ve pushed on the with the projects and kept their spirits up.  Home comforts, hot showers and running water, will all be cherished even more when they return home. Sadly, Emma, having had a particularly tough time with sickness, decided to return back to the UK this week. We know Emma was very upset to cut short the expedition and leave the Fijian community. We’d all like to wish Emma all the best from the whole team and the community of Nairai hope to see you return back one day to your little Fijian village.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (34)

With the volunteers feeling back on form by the end of the week, it was time to enjoy some village evenings of fun.  On valentines day we were lucky enough to celebrate two birthdays in the team, our leader lulu and our building manager Jimbo. Cakes and parties were enjoyed by all.  Cultural evenings, coconut husking and fishing trips were on the agenda and Wednesday night saw the team separate into groups and head to different houses across the village for ‘a family night’ filled with food and grog parties,  think Fijian ‘come dine with me’ – a chance for the team to get to know other Fijian families in their village and share stories and food.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (6)

A very special weekend arrived. We met up with the think pacific team from Batiki Island, who boated across to Nairai and also with the five week team, who are based on the opposite side of our jungle peaks. It’s always fabulous when our different teams get to meet and have the change to share their experiences and it was the first time in think pacific history where 3 teams have come together at once!

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (29)

The teams all got to know each other with a Think Pacific Olympics in the morning, filled with games and group activities. The boys from different teams came together to make a think pacific rugby 7’s team and participated in a tournament with the villages of Nairai in order to win the island Cup.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (14)

The whole day was a great experience and a triumph for Nairai Island, who hosted with pride. The teams split in half and some went down to waitoga village for dinner and the rest went to vutuna and afterwards, everyone came together for one huge grog party.

Natauloa Pics - Week 2&3 (5)

After a long day we headed back to their village for a deserved sleep and time to prepare for more experiences ahead next week.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Batiki expedition team – Diary update from Naigani village!


volunteer project fiji (32)

Project life is in full flow and what a week it has been! The second full week of volunteering on our remote paradise island has left our team hammock feeling very lonely.

volunteer project fiji (30)

An eventful seven days kicked off with another day of all hands on deck on the build. A Fiji bank holiday meant school was out, adding further frustration for the team to kick off teaching and sports coaching. Everyone pitched in to ensure the foundations were finished and filled, in preparation for the rest of the main frame to be assembled. With no school the village was bustling with excited children.

volunteer project fiji (28)

On Tuesday the leaders let loose the School, and Kindi teachers. Sarah, Ellen, Alice and Caroline fired straight into Kindi, accepting the task of controlling the island’s 3-5 year olds they acted as human climbing frames and jukeboxes in great form. With the help of Tara, already the daily routine is set in place and the girls have begun to make their mark on the kids in the most influential of kindi ways – a new song!! Sarah’s bunny song has lifted the roof every day and will no doubt do so for the remainder of project.

volunteer project fiji (33) volunteer project fiji (34)

On the school front, Will brushed up on his ABC’s in class 1&2, Hannah has made display posters with 3&4, Rachel led lessons in class 5&6 and Amber led Social Science and Maths lessons for the senior kids in 7&8.

volunteer project fiji (17)

Think Pacific’s extra-curricular activities are where the chaos is at for the children of Batiki District School and they know it. Having waited patiently for a week they made up for lost time with a manic house art and booming sports. A house art topic of ‘The Future’ saw Vono pip the headmasters judging by one point to take a 1-0 lead over Longolongo in the house cup.

volunteer project fiji (6)

Having chosen to coach sessions of Rugby, Netball, Football, Athletics and Rounders the team split to conduct their structured warm ups, practise drills and modified games. From 3 – 4pm the beach front school pitch has been a sea of kids playing to their hearts content.

volunteer project fiji (27)

From Tuesday onwards the build has involved Mike, Rory, Tommy, Phil, George, Tom with Jay and Semi supervising. Despite MC hammer pants, Russian powerlifting, Nige’s measuring and the odd stray hammer the boys have ended the week with an almost complete frame for our community hall. A remarkable feat with so many distractions!! Add to that Philism’s, with special mention to the conquering of his fear of heights. A great moment!

volunteer project fiji (2)

Around our daily project works has been occasions to attend, most memorable of which was Hannah’s birthday. The village treated Hannah to a traditional Fijian birthday celebration with a monstrous feast, tapa clothing and a warrior escort to the hall. Followed by a grog party which brought about a sing off between the team’s newly found choir and village band, needless to say it was a birthday we shall all remember, never mind Hannah.

volunteer project fiji (19)

The weekend saw the second of our evening adventures around the villages of Batiki. On Friday we made our way straight to Yavu after sports coaching. After enjoying a second feast in as many days we relaxed with the families we were staying with before an evening’s entertainment in the Yavu hall. The highlight of which was a Meke performance from the children of the village!

volunteer project fiji (25)

Following breakfast Saturday morning in Yavu the team relaxed their bodies on Mua’s private beach in preparation for the afternoons community sports matches of Rugby and Netball. In the netball, the TP girls got together to face a Batiki select side. With a bare seven players the girls gave it their all in sweltering heat. A sterling performance saw each player run their blood to water against the experienced Fijian ladies, losing the match 14-4. In the match: Ellen was Chizley, Hannah was a head the ball, Sarah was stylish, Rachel was nimble, Caroline was quick, Alice was constant, and Amber was unquestionable.

volunteer project fiji (26)

On the Rugby field, the TP boys mixed with villagers to play an extraordinary lengthy match of 7’s, thirty minutes long!! The warm up set the tone for a crowd pleaser, as Will’s drop kick swerved its way towards Tommy’s face. Sneaky George crashed his way over to wrap up a fine performance from himself and Tom’s debut rugby match produced a try worthy of Twickenham’s turf. As remembered it goes a little something like…Tom receives the ball in his own half from the ruck, Tom steps off his left foot to beat one man, confronted by two huge forwards he grubbers between the legs of one in his way and scoots around to retrieve the ball, in open space he races 40 metres until he reaches the full back, who he disposes off with a right fend and a skip out of his clutches to place the ball down. And…the crowd go nuts!

volunteer project fiji (23)

Sunday’s sabbath provided some well-deserved and much needed hammock time for the team to recuperate and restore their energies ready for the coming week of project…

volunteer project fiji (18)

One traditional ceremony rarely seen by Fijians, two sleep overs and a historical sunset trek has complemented the roaring project elements in a whirlwind of a week three.

Losing themselves in their work the boys on the build have continued in their efforts to complete Naigani’s community hall as quickly as possible. Fortunately, some bad weather has pulled the reins on them a little. Replacing two mornings work with two much deserved and well indulged tea parties.

volunteer project fiji (1)

Nailing the first piece of roofing iron on Wednesday brought a traditional ceremony whereby the women decorated the building as they sang and danced. Those working and those not were served Kava throughout the day, Mike ‘the president’ worked his way around all of the households to ensure he personally handed a bowl of Kava to every villager. Least to say, it was a laboured walk to sports that day!!

volunteer project fiji (29)

Our first rota in school has massively impressed the new headmaster at BDS and for that the team have Will, Rachel, Hannah and Amber to thank. Working as teaching assistants and taking the odd class themselves they have set high standards for the rest to follow. In particularly Rachel, who with a bright teaching career ahead of her has had a huge impact in class four and has been requested by Master Saki to ‘please stay?’.

volunteer project fiji (12)

Waking the ‘beat baby’ in Kindi, to find out what activity the fluffy monkey has in store for the kids has transformed learning time. The activity Sarah has brought from her nursery work in London has found itself a permanent place within the daily routine for the remainder of the project and most certainly a spot in the TP volunteer bible. Likewise with school, the start to Kindi has been outstanding and huge thanks must go to Alice, Caroline, Ellen and Sarah.

volunteer project fiji (13)

The extracurricular classes this week have taught and practised public speaking. The younger kids have worked on presenting very basic sentences in front of their peers and those in class 6, 7 & 8 rehearsed speeches for Fridays final. In the final, Vono house performed a piece from Coach Carter and Logologo the ‘Tell me lies about Vietnam’ poem. In grasping the poems meaning, the Logologo performance had a touch of sincerity you would not expect from a 13 year old Fijian girl. However, Vono’s animated and slick performance took the spoils, giving Vono a 2-0 lead in the house cup.

volunteer project fiji (16)

Making their mark in Yavu the week before, it was clear the impression the team had left. A few days gone and we were invited back for another party, to witness a traditional ceremony. An eldest son had returned to his mother’s village for the 1st time. Being a rare occasion we were incredibly fortunate to witness the presentation of Fiji’s most prestigious gift…the whales tooth! The team showed their appreciation by partying the night away after the huge feast which saw us make light work of the ‘one big pig’!!

volunteer project fiji (9)

Shaking off the grog over from the previous night, we were onto our third and final village visit, this time to our neighbours Manuku. The team were in fine form as they were quickly acquainted and educated on how they were related to this village. Again we were treated to a feast fit for a king and for many of us, our first taste of goat, which was a fan’s favourite amongst the team. With our stomachs full, it was only our appetite for grog which remained, which was easily satisfied as the grog party continued into the early hours of the morning.

volunteer project fiji (7)

Nursing a ‘grog over’ the following day, we had a great excuse to relax and kick back in Manuku village. After restoring our energy levels we took on a trek to the highest peak in Batiki. Scrambling through the bush we made it to the summit to witness the breath taking views of the whole Lomaiviti province. Up there we were treated to a visit to the old Manuku village where the first settlers lived over two hundred years ago, and told stories about the villager’s ancestors. Returning to the peak we then chilled out and watched the sunset which featured predominantly in Sunday’s highlight of the week, and will certainly remain one of the team’s fondest memories of Batiki. However…watching the sunset at the top of the peak meant the decline was in darkness, in that surreal experience was the head torches 15 minutes of fame. Arriving back in Manuku, we jumped into a packed out boat for our journey home under the star filled sky, capping a great end to another amazing week.

Approaching in week four we have the eagerly anticipated Nairai trip – 3 teams, one island, it’s going off!!

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Batiki Island Photos!


Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Nairai Island 5 week team – Volunteering and village life


volunteer project fiji (5)

After spending their first few days relaxing it was finally time for our January 5 week team to make their way out to their project island of Nairai and Waitoga village.

volunteer project fiji (3)

Having been briefed by our Government partners and given a more in-depth account of what exactly to expect from their time in a Fijian village, everyone was extremely excited to see what would become their home for the next four weeks. The team were met on the beach of Waitoga village by almost all of the villagers and quickly whisked away to their new homes to settle in and meet their new Fijian families. Although it may be thousands of miles from their real homes, it really is a credit to the villagers how quickly they make our teams feel relaxed and at home.

volunteer project fiji (9)

That first afternoon was spent doing a traditional sevu sevu (welcome presentation) to the village elders and a chance for the team to sample grog for the first time. After that most of the team could be seen being dragged around the village by the kids who were only too happy to help them explore their new surroundings. On Tuesday morning it was time to take the 20 minute walk along the beach to Waitoga School to meet the teachers and see the classrooms we would be assisting in.

volunteer project fiji (7)

On returning to the village our new building manager, Semi, showed the team exactly where they would be building the community nursing station that will cater for both Waitoga and Vatuna villages. Although there is already a nurse stationed on Nairai, it is a boat journey away for the people of these two villages, which is why this is such an important project and top of the Ministry of Health’s list.

volunteer project fiji (4)

The afternoon was then spent planning, which element of project everyone wanted to take part in for the first Rota. Laura B, Kat, Phoebe and Ell chose Kindi, Alex, Ella, Eleanor and Rose where in school and Rob, Josh, Sam, Lydia, Laura Bev, Rosie, Liz, Lucinda and Sophie where first to start on the build. Later that night the team were spending quality time with their new families and waitoga didn’t hold back. Almost every family built a shed to have dinner and grog in and the laughter could be heard echoing around the village.

volunteer project fiji (8)

Wednesday morning was finally game time and the day the whole team has been waiting for since they first applied to come on this project many months ago! The build got off to a flying start with all the holes dug for the foundation posts and then concreted into place. Bearing in mind this is all done the traditional way with no such thing as cement mixers or diggers, it was a huge effort.

volunteer project fiji (10)

Days 2 and 3 were no different either with the floor bearers all fitted, walls erected and the roofing trusses fixed into place before the end of the day on Friday. At this rate of going we will have the build completed with time to spare.

volunteer project fiji (12)

Kindi can be quite a daunting experience as the kids; aged 3 to 5 don’t have much English. But with the help of two of the ladies from the village our guys soon got them settled into a routine, with circle time in the morning and then some number and color lessons before finishing off with a few outdoor games.

volunteer project fiji (1)

As this is the first time Waitoga have ever had a kindi, the kids were extremely excited and could be found spending more time using our volunteers as climbing frames that paying attention to the lessons. But already after three days it is clear to see the sort of impact it will have and confidence it has given them. With ideas for making masks, and outdoor learning the next few weeks look to be very promising.

volunteer fiji (16)

With such high standards set on the other elements of project or teachers didn’t disappoint either. Even though the teacher for class 1&2 was absent, Alex, Ella, Eleanor and Rose got stuck straight in with some of their own ideas as well as doing some one to one with a few of the kids who are struggling in subjects such as English and Math’s.

volunteer fiji (26)

Fijian kids have an unrivaled eagerness to learn and this was clear to see in how quickly they responded to our volunteers challenging them in a different way than they might be used to. With themes such as ‘If I was President for a Day’ bringing out some great stories it’s exciting to thing of the progress that can be made over the next 4 weeks.

volunteer project fiji (11)

As if the day’s activities on project followed by sports coaching in the afternoon wasn’t enough for our team, they then took to learning more about the traditions and customs of the people they have already come to call family. So Wednesday night was the turn of the village to teach, showing how mats, bracelets, fans, bracelets and even rings can be made from the leaves of various plants and trees.

volunteer project fiji (2)

As with most social gatherings the grog was also in full flow and the night only ended when heads began to drop and eyes began to shut from tiredness. Saturday then saw the team take a trek up one of the many peaks on Nairai to witness some stunning views before making their way home for lunch and spend the afternoon fishing with their families. It’s safe to say Sunday will be a welcome rest day for everyone before the fun and frolics of project begin again on Monday morning.

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Nairai Island ten week team – First photos and diary


Fiji volunteering project week one (3)

After a few days on the island of Leleuvia, swimming, relaxing and getting to know one another the team finally made their way to the island of Nairai and the village of Natauloa and their home for the next 8 weeks. With the water very calm the team had a quick crossing on Monday morning to the island and we were welcomed on the beach by the villagers of Natauloa. The volunteers presented a Sevu Sevu to the village and they were introduced to the families with a welcoming meal. Their first night on the island saw a big grog session in the community hall. Everyone tried the kava and many stayed until it finished at one in the morning.

Fiji volunteering project week one (19)

On Tuesday the team headed to the school and introduced themselves to the teachers and children. They also viewed where the building site will be for the new kindergarten school, which they will be building for the village over the next two months. After lunch the team took a trek up to the nearest peak for a fantastic view of Natauloa village. Next it was time to plan the first weeks’ volunteering rota. Our two teachers Georgia and Dave started in school, joined by Caroline and Rob and Poppy, Emma, Ciaran and Ben started their project in the kindergarten. Henry, James, Ryan, Cheryl, Corinne, Anna, Gordon, Nick, Sarah, Harry and Helena all took on the huge task of the building project – time to start work on the foundations with our building manager Jimbo.

Fiji volunteering project week one (14)

Tuesday night was relaxed family night for the team as they prepared themselves for the volunteering. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday saw the team start their first full days on the project. In school, Georgia and Caroline made a tree in classes 4, 5 and 6, out of outlines of the children’s hands and feet. The children also started an ‘all about me’ project.  In class 7 and 8 Rob got stuck in helping out with maths, science and English. He made a quiz for the kids on Friday with lollies for prizes for the winning students. Dave started in classes 1, 2 and 3, helping the younger kids of Natauloa school with basic English and maths, starting with the alphabet and also counting skills; very different to his secondary school geography teaching back home in the UK. The kids very quickly warmed to our volunteer teachers and the first lessons proved hugely successful.

Fiji volunteering project week one (15)

In kindi Ciaran, Poppy, Ben and Emma started off getting to know the kids and making and learning the routine for kindi. Kindergarten is a fairly new concept to the island and what started off as 2 children In kindi on Wednesday turned in to 11 by Friday as the word spread across the villages.  New concepts to kindi included a daily weather chart, a day chart, attendance sheet and they also put together nursery rhymes for the kids to learn over the coming weeks. Kindi was soon a loud and creative place to be!

Fiji volunteering project week one (7)

As for the building project, the team got stuck into profiling the building, sawing the post for the foundation, collecting sand and gravel from the beach and digging holes. By Friday the team were starting to concrete the posts into the ground. As they concreted their first post, the preacher of the island came and blessed the building. The team quickly flew through concreting and the foundations were almost half complete by the end of the first week.

Fiji volunteering project week one (5)

The team also started their sports coaching. Harry, Rob, James, Gordon and Ryan all started with rugby. Georgia, Emma, Corinne, Ciaran, Helena, Cheryl took rounders, Poppy, Sarah, Henry, Caroline and Anna coached netball while Dave, Nick and Ben took football, every day the kids rotate around the different sports giving them a chance to try them all as well as giving the team the chance to coach all ages of the school.

Fiji volunteering project week one (9)

Aside from the great volunteering efforts this week, the team were busy getting to know the villagers, visiting each others houses for lunch and dinner and enjoying the hospitality and communal atmosphere. Thursday night saw the villagers teach the guys and girls how to make Fijian baskets out of coconut leaves and also fans, bracelets, rings and all other types of souvenirs for the team to take home. Friday night saw the team relax in the community hall and have a grog party with the villagers while they sang Fijian songs. Saturday was a time for the team to spend with their families, some went snorkeling and fishing out on the reefs, others had picnics or were taken to their families’ plantations to see where all the Fijian food is grown.

Fiji volunteering project week one (12)

The teams’ first Sunday on the village was a chance for them to attend a Fijian church service in the morning and witness the amazing choir. Following this, they had ppp’s with their leaders and then all came together to chat through the plans for the next week of project and also to plan the events of the ‘School House Cup’, which will bring art, drama, music, debating and sports competitions for the children.

Fiji volunteering project week one (2)

After a relaxed weekend the team were raring to crack on with the volunteering again. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on the building project, the team completed the concreting of the posts into the ground and also the two big masts which will hold the roof up. It was a huge job putting those posts into the ground and it took almost half the team to carry them, but they are now standing proud and strong in the ground and concreted and the formation of the building is complete.  The team were now able to attach the joists to the posts and start on the cross rafters for the flooring, so the new school is flying by!

Fiji volunteering project week one (13)

In school, Georgia and Caroline now have their teacher back so they were able to focus upon children in the class who are struggling in certain subjects. Dave in class 1, 2 and 3 is going from strength to strength.  Rob in classes 7 and 8 has been pushing forward with his English and maths lessons as well as teaching the kids some new topics of his own.

Fiji volunteering project week one (18)

Monday also saw the team start the house cup competition, with house arts and crafts first on the agenda. The volunteer team have been separated into 3 houses with the school kids and the competitive spirit is already beginning to show. Sports continued to flourish, with all school years participating and rotating across different sports, to gain as much experience as possible.

Fiji volunteering project week one (1)

Tuesday night saw some of the team head out night spear fishing, Sarah, Corinne, Harry and Anna all went with Lulu bear with spear gun in hand. After a few hours of fishing they managed to catch a good amount of fish for the village.

It’s been a busy start to project life, from the great efforts on the building project and the strong start to the school, sports and kindergarten programme; we know the team are going to achieve great things in the weeks ahead. This weekend, we have community rugby and netball matches as well as a trek across the island to visit the neighbouring villages, so it’s all go on Nairai Island!