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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.