Archive for March, 2013

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

The penultimate week on Batiki Island

Volunteer Fiji (6)

Beginning the penultimate week, the thought of leaving newly adopted family and friends was starting to become a reality. Consequently a jam packed week facilitated the volunteer’s attitude to make the most of their remaining time here.

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This week the team substituted the hammers and saws for the paintbrushes, with all the building work completed it was time to bring some life to the community hall. George, Will, Phil, Mike, Alice and Caroline took on Jays challenge of ‘a coat a day’. Wearing most of the paint the team surprised as they succeeded to primer the build and undercoated inside and out.

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Undertaking the last full week of school, Tom decided he would test himself at the opposite end of the school spectrum by assisting Madame Luisa in class 1&2. Overcoming the distraction of the infamous Tutui, Mr Laurence led a lesson on ‘the postman’ and demonstrated his artistic skills with his classroom display. With class 3&4 proving a popular choice with the volunteers, Ellen made her long awaited appearance and was prepared to make the most of her opportunity, solely leading class 4 in reading and maths. Likewise with Rachel the previous week Tommy returned to class 5&6 with the team sensing a competition brewing on; ‘who’s the favorite teacher’.  Tommy provided the kids this week with his substantial intellectual skills in which they industrialized the prospect of understanding future development within the community.Hannah again opted for school, but this time helping the headmaster in class 7&8. Taking the class down to the beach to read Swiss Family Robinson and educating the children on the effects of alcohol.

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Alongside Rory, sisters Rachel and Amber combined to control the riot which is sometimes referred to as Kindi. A very creative week saw the children covered in glue and colored paper throughout, the end result being masks, necklaces and crowns. The children also became familiar with big and small, and a height chart was displayed and decorated adding to the colorful learning environment

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The favorite House cup element returned this week in the shape of House singing. Vono choosing to do a rendition of Abba’s, Mamma Mia and Logo Logo led by Alice chose ‘Seasons of love’ from the musical ‘Rent’. Both houses were outstanding and the volunteer’s enthusiasm definitely rubbed off on the children, the songs could be heard throughout the neighboring villages. There wasn’t much between the two teams in the final; in fact there wasn’t anything, with the teams tied on 14 points out of a maximum of 15. They both shared the spoils making for an interesting final week, as the scores stand 4-2 to Vono and with 3 events left there’s still plenty to play for.

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Monday night was meant to be a film night for the team, when the volunteers arrived at Jim’s house a grog session was well underway in the bure, and so a collective decision resulted in the team opting to take full advantage of the kava whilst they can.

The team’s favorite weekly tradition continued on Tuesday night, it was family night. Accepting Tutu’s Emi’s invitation all went for kava in Hannah and Alice’s home, nicknamed the ‘house of pain’ for its strong mixes and tsunami bowls of grog. The team chatted and played games into the early hours in the morning.

Wednesday night gave the chance for the volunteers to complete their souvenir collection. Assisted by the villagers the team produced Bilo’s, the traditional Fijian cup used for kava ceremonies. ‘Bilo and behold’ the coconuts soon turned into vessel’s for the vice that is… Kava. With plenty of opportunities to drink grog over the final weeks, the bilo’s will definitely be put to the test.

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The final quiz of the expedition was produced by Will, Amber, Hannah and George. The infamous music round once again made an appearance; alongside the quiz master round, where the team became aware of Amber’s Olympic world record…for being involved in creating the biggest Olympic rings emblem.

Volunteering Fiji

A mixed netball match kicked off a relaxed approach to community sports on Saturday. Yet national pride brought about the boys competitiveness during the Kavilangi(visitors) vs Kaviti(villagers) football match. The eagerly anticipated game of 5 a-side lifted the days intensity as the village boys pushed the TP boys all the way, the Kavilangi’s edging a 3 – 2 win. Concluding the day was the turn of the Kaviti’s to show their hand at their national sport, in a game of Rugby sevens…it was mixed of course!

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A significant day in the life of Think Pacific and Batiki was Sunday! This being the final project in the near future on these shores the team were extremely fortunate to experience an island farewell church service. At a packed out church in Mua, all the villages gathered to sing hymns, and listen to words from TalaTala, Master Saki and Nigel. Within the service the team did every member of TP that has enjoyed Batiki proud with our very own hymn.

Singing our way back home on the boat, spirits could not be higher despite the pouring rain. Rolling into our final week we are determined to make the most of our time together…

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

March 2013 Castaway briefing

Here are the photos from the past few days on Leleuvia Island as our volunteers get to know one another and relax in paradise.  They’ve had some gorgeous weather. The pictures are certainly making us very jealous in the Leeds office!

This week, the team have also been briefed by the Fijian Ministry as they prepare for life in the tiny, traditional and poor community of Yanuca, where they will be spending the next four weeks.

After the fun and sunshine of their Fijian acclimatisation, it’s now time for the real experience to begin as the team throw themselves into some very challenging volunteering projects and we look to inspire the Fijian children through youth and sports aims and achieve the construction of vital sanitation facilities for Yanuca village.

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Nairai: Young Enterprise makes a huge impression in Natauloa

natauloa week 7 (25)

It’s been another big couple of weeks on Nairai for the team. With only one full week left in the village the feeling that it is all coming to an end is setting in. It’s a difficult atmosphere to describe as there is a feeling of accomplishment at what has been achieved in our time here, then there is also that feeling of sadness that we will soon be leaving what everyone has come to refer to as home over the past 2 months.

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The final touches have been put to the build with walling, flooring, doors and windows all completed. It’s now on to painting and with ‘Busted’ as the chosen anthem it seems to have lifted spirits even higher than normal. If only we had known this at the start the leaders would have been only too happy to sing songs like ‘What I go to school for’ to keep the team motivated. With the end in sight we are right on schedule to finish on the completion date.

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Although the build can steal a lot of the limelight due to its size and the sheer physical effort put in, we believe in that our placements in both the school and kindergarden have a more significant impact, especially on the younger members of the villages we visit. And this project has been no different with the change in the kids ability clear to see over the past number of weeks. Something that has a massive impact on this is the House Cup. Over the past week our teachers have been helping prepare the kids for their debating and public speaking finals.

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They have also been working very hard on the young enterprise element and this has produced some fantastic results. A profit of 29 dollars was made by Burebasaga selling lemon juice, in second place was Tovata who made toffee and earned 59 dollars and in first place with an outstanding 108 dollars was Combuna selling personalised bilos to the team members. With only a few points dividing each house it promises to be an epic finale.

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The team also took a break from house cup action to promote a health week with all the kids in Nataloa School. This was done by dividing into 4 teams to each concentrate on a particular topic. These where, Typhoid, Teeth, Diet and Drugs and Alcohol. There were some great presentations on show and even the Fijian teachers stopped what they were doing to listen in.

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Evening activities have been in full swing with an all important birthday one of the highlights. Nick took pride of place as the village laid on a feast and a huge grog session followed which lasted well into the next morning. With quizzes, family nights and kids evenings also during the week it was no surprise that the weekend was a welcome rest time for everyone and a chance to recharge the batteries before we start into our final week.

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Monday, March 18th, 2013

March 2013 team arrive into Fiji and our expedition begins

Lelevuia Island Fiji

Just a little post to let all friends and family know that our March 2013 expedition is officially underway!

The team have all arrived safely and they are currently heading along the Coral Coast of Viti Levu. By the end of today they will be on beautiful Leleuvia island to begin their castaway team orientation.

The next few days involve acclimatisation, briefings by our leaders and the Fijian Ministry and lots of time to get to know one another in paradise.  Then it will be on to Yanuca village to achieve a huge programme of youth, teaching, sports and building volunteer aims.

It’s been two years since our first visit to Yanuca and we can’t wait to return!

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Nairai ten week team – expedition video footage

Here are some video clips of our ten week volunteers on Nairai Island;

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Batiki Island – Life on project is booming!

Gap Year Projects (1)

Week five has continued the snowball of fun and been one, which has blooded the future Richards Branson’s of Fiji and included an age old picnic that has been enjoyed along our beach for centuries.

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On build this week, Phil has continued his invaluable work towards Naigani’s community hall, heading up the ladders at the apex his focus has been on the aesthetics. Caroline, Rachel & Eddie have come together to nail down the second half of the flooring whilst Will, Amber, Ellen and Sarah faced off in a race to complete the front wall, of which Amber and Ellen forfeited under claims of wallsmanship! Culminating the end of our second rota the build team displayed some unique moves most definitely to be seen again in R & R during Friday afternoon’s musical statues. Notably Phil’s night fever finger combo with the dirty dancing hips.

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On the opposite side of the island Alice’s remarkable diagrams have taught ‘the time’ to class 1 & 2, Mike has sat at his very own teacher’s desk with an endless row of children waiting for his approval in class 3 & 4, Tommy seems to have ‘found’ himself whilst leading lessons in class 5, his endless enthusiasm knowing no bounds and, Rory was a keen invidulator for the exam he had prepared the children of class 7 & 8 for this week.

This week’s lesser Kindi team made up for their lack of numbers with their passion and organised mayhem. Singing and stamping their hearts out with their infamous Grand Old Duke of York performance and working on their arts and crafts piece was a daily highlight. By the end of the week the children had produced a vibrant and decorative alphabet display.

The house cup competition engaged the children in and out of school hours this week. House enterprise was a resounding success! The children designed and created their very own products to sell at Friday’s school fundraiser. Selling hand-made necklaces, mats, belts and bracelets the children were involved in every aspect of the enterprise from the marketing, production and sales. Logologo ran out winners producing $60 profit in comparison to Vono’s $40 profit. Adding that to the $50 raised from the sale of the cakes and cookies the team made the previous evening we have a reasonable amount to supply each school member with new pencils, rulers and rubbers.

It is safe to say the team ate well this week. Evening visits from Mua, Manuku Wednesday and Yavu on Friday brought gifts of food as the islanders came to witness the progress of Naigani’s soon to be community hall and celebrate the team efforts over a few bowls of grog. It was not only gifts of the palate for Rory and Tommy who also received some priceless relationship advice they are sure to treasure for a lifetime from the Yavu turrani.

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The girls plus Tommy and Will were treated to a Kaviti (Fijian) day which involved catching their lunch, cooking and eating in the most traditional of ways. The girls made lovo (an earth oven) with their families, whilst Tommy and Will went line fishing to catch their lunch resulting in a great feast. Not even the rain could dampen their spirits as bure’s sprang up along the beach. Providing a priceless moment when 2 year old Whammy was recovered from the ruins of a fallen bure covered head to toe in sand.
Sunday’s tea parties brought reflection of this week’s goings on and talk of what’s to come in week six…most notably we have the inclusion of Dodgeball to the children of BDS. It’s going off!

Week six has provided an insight into the remarkable hospitality we all receive on our remote island and has rewarded those for their extra efforts.
Rory and Phil’s relationship has flourished on the build this week. Discussing walling methods over breakfast they joined heads to figure out the finishing touches to the apex. Inside the near completed community hall Ellen, Alice, Hannah and George worked tirelessly to finish the flooring and complete over half of the window frames.

A memorable Kindi party and Kindi ‘mosh pit’ brought the house down on a fantastic week for the children. Celebrating their endeavours in completing the colourful and educational garden display their flowers, bees and butterflies have spruced up Yavu’s Kindi tremendously. Huge thanks go to Tommy, Will, Mike and Amber who’s enthusiasm has rubbed off on the children, despite the boys tone deaf rhymes and songs. Ha.

Passing their wealth of knowledge onto the youth of Batiki this week was;Mr Lawrence, who taught metaphors and similes to class 7 & 8 through poetry, Rachel whose creative writing lessons on the beach inspired class 5 and 6 to produce some imaginative stories of their own,Carolinewho was a great asset to class 3 and 4 most notably in her support of the high flying childrenand, Sarah who has been doing some one to one teaching with our newest member of class 1 Tatui…without forgetting her traffic light display!!

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The new to project intervention group has come on leaps and bounds this week. With all the credit going to Rachel,demonstrating her passion and knowledge of teaching she has taken a leading role in the delivery of small study groups aiming to decrease the range in learning abilities at BDS. With the undoubted help of Tommy, Hannah, Amber, Ellen and Mr Lawrence the group have worked after school hours to develop the highlighted children’s Maths. Culminating in an end of the week quiz the children’s improvement has been monitored and having ironed out the early creases we are proud to say that the classes have been a resounding success.

Speaking of out of school hours the house cup took an interesting turn towards Vono. Debating the issue of school uniform Vono has Saki to thank for a remarkable summary which proved to be the difference between the two houses.

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Furthermore of the extra-curricular activities, Sarah and Rachel’s effort were rewarded on Friday when the full school came together to perform the dance they had learnt throughout the week. This was a beautiful contrast to the anarchy which unfolded in the school week’s crescendo activity which was a…whole school game of Dodgeball!

Outside of our daily routine, this week’s evening activities included a laid back night weaving bracelets and bookmarks in the shed with ladies of the village. This week’s family night had an interesting twist which we all very much enjoyed. Exchanging families for the evening we dined at different houses and later gathered in a packed ‘house of pain’ to compare Na’s and Ta’s over a bowls of grog. Those on the weekly spear fishing trip brought the evening up in their highlight of the week, including those who sat and stargazed on the boat. As Alice, Will and Amber followed the villager’s torch with the spear gun they hunted fish around the pitch black reef, spotting a looming reef shark on numerous occasions provided a thrill.

An invitation from Mua was an opportunity for them to display their chiefly status on the island. On Friday we spent the night there drinking grog, chatting to villagers and singing along to the band after being spoilt with a huge feast of chicken.

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The week concluded with our standard highlight of the week during our Sunday meet, of which the Boiler Boys jamming session gained special mention. A session the Blues Brothers’ themselves would have been proud of! Planning our activities for next week we have continued with the one week rota’s in order for everybody to have the opportunity to paint part of the build…yes in week 7 we shall complete the hall and whack out the brushes to add the finishing touches…

We send our best wishes to our families and friends back home.