Archive for April, 2013

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Gau-Week 2 of volunteering and Fijian adventure!


Gap Year Gau (5)

It was a nice relaxing first weekend here in Qarani After Friday night’s Hop Hop the team enjoyed a leisurely stroll to a waterfall for a cool down. The temperatures have been reaching 30c on most days and we haven’t seen any rain yet on the island (tempting fate?) so a tranquil dip in the pool was great to refresh.
We then headed down to the school compound (about a 10 minute walk) with some of the villagers from Qarani for some rugby and netball……………….

Gap Year Gau (3)

After the energetic afternoon we all came back to the village, showered and had the usual big Fijian dinners (’kana Levu’ – ‘Eat big!’) and had an early night. Sunday saw the team going to the first church service on the island. The villagers are currently building a huge church at the top of the village which has been under construction for the past few years. It will be a big focal point for Qarani as it is an imposing building which overlooks the whole of the village. So for the time being, they hold their service in the community village hall. All the team were present in their obligatory Jumbo dresses for the girls and Bula shirts with a pocket sulu for the boys and we were treated to some resounding hymns from the congregation and welcomed into the village by the Tala tala (Reverend) and the Elders.
The majority of the service is in Fijian, so rather difficult to understand but it is a great spectacle and sound for us all.

Gap Year Gau (4)

We started the 2nd week of our rotas on Monday and have Angela, Katie, Leah, and Hollie with the in Kindi. The theme of the week is Under the Sea, so we have been playing some fun sea creature based games and along with the usual nursery rhymes with Leah has been teaching the children some Irish shanty sea songs! The children are settled well in Kindi now and are used to the team being there so it’s always great to see their smiling faces as they come in the morning!

Gap Year Gau (7)

It is the last week of school in Qarani – as they have a 2 week break during our last 2 weeks here. During this time off we will be doing a ‘Summer Camp’ for the all the children in school. This will be not as formal as classroom learning but still will keep the children occupied and learning as they have such a huge desire to learn and are very motivated with the Think Pacific team in the village! So Sally and Lottie have been in classes 5 and 6 with Hollie and Angela joining classes 7 and 8 after Kindi. The lessons have been going really well and the girls have been doing a fantastic job in there. They all continue the programe set by the school of English and Maths in the morning and then after lunch the girls can teach anything they are interested in. Sally and Lottie have done some great geography lessons and Hollie and Ang even did an impromptu French lesson!

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Its been a busy few days on he build too! We have Dan, Richard, Abbey, Charlotte, Laura, Rupert, Will, James, Nathan, Hannah and Steph working on there this week. After the first week we have the posts cemented and cut, so we have been putting the flooring joists in and the supports. Even though conditions are hot the group are storming through the build – the village will have a nursing station in no time at the rate we are going!

Gap Year Gau (6)

In the house cup after school time, we have continued to learn our 4 songs for the houses. It is amazing how fast the pupils learn the songs and now the team are fitting in some dance routines to the songs to maybe earn some extra points from the judges?!
After the house cup we do an hour of sport with the school children and we have been coaching Football, volleyball, Lacrosse and some gymnastics! It is a chance for the kids to try other sports other than rugby which plays a huge part in Fijian life and Lottie is happy too with the continued Lacrosse training – we are going to have some professional players by the end of the 4 weeks! Gymnastics has been excellent too with some impressive dances taught by most of the girls.

Gap Year Gau (1)

The team have also started going spear fishing this week as well, with Dan, Rich, Will and Nathan taking the first shift at night, let’s hope they catch a lot for tomorrow, otherwise no fish, no lunch…..

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So all is well and everyone is happy here in the village of Qarani, it is crazy how quickly the time goes so everyone is taking advantage of every moment and really getting involved in all aspects of village life!

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Nairai Team – April 2013 expedition briefing


Here are some photos from the past few days and the briefing of our April 2013 ten week team!

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Gau-A huge welcome for our first ever project!


Volunteering Fiji, Gau (3)

After just four days on the first ever project on Gau island, the team have settled in amazingly, already hop hoping with the ladies, playing rugby with the men and generally getting involved with the day to day Fijian culture in Qarani village. Monday saw the team arrive onto the island after what was a rather bumpy boat ride over from Leleuvia, to be welcomed by the village of Qarani down by the sea wall, the then presented a sevu sevu which is a traditional Fijian culture when entering a new village for the first time. After which the team where introduced to the family they will be living with for the duration of their project, and wondered around the village getting to know everyone. Monday night saw the team have some kava with the other volunteers and their families. On Tuesday they headed over to the school compound to see where they will be assisting in the school and also in the kindergarten, they introduced themselves to the teachers and students and had a little game of touch rugby with some of the villagers. Tuesday afternoon our building manager Jimbo and our National Employment Centre volunteer Niko turned up with all our materials, so the guys all helped in unloading the materials off the boat and sorting them out ready for the start on project.

Volunteering Fiji, Gau (4)

Wednesday saw the start of project for the team, with Abi, Hollie, Kate and Lottie deciding to go into school for the first few days, all the girls went into classes 3 and 4 in the morning teaching the kids some rhymes and riddles before some mathematics and then reading before recess, after which Abi and Kate headed up to classes 7 and 8 to do some mathematical bingo, while Hollie and Lottie stayed in classes 3 and 4 and introduce the Mr men books to the children and had them come up with their own characters. After lunch the girls all went into their own classes and taught the kids a bit of geography with the world map and focused on great Britain and the royal family, the girls continued this for the remainder of the week, introducing house speaking to the kids, in classes 3 and 4  the kids learnt a tongue twister about betty buying some butter, while classes 5 and 6 learnt the poem noble 600, in classes 7 and 8 it was the speech by king George the 6th before England went to war, which will be great for the older kids as it means their English will be able to progress.

Volunteering Fiji, Gau (1)

In kindergarten we had Laura, Charlotte, Hannah and Steph. Using the routine from the kindergarten the girls all cracked straight on with the kids, in the morning after some time making towers and ships out of Lego the girls get to know the children with a morning name song and some bean bag games saying how many brothers and sister’s the kids have and what the favourite things are. They then had some song time teaching them some classics rhymes like humpty dumpty and twinkle twinkle little star. Then after some learning time with numbers and letters the girls get the kids brushing their teeth after recess, which usually means toothpaste all over the place for the kids. For arts and crafts the girls came up with the theme of animals, so over the 3 days they had the kids colouring in different animals, they also made a tree of kindergarten which all the kids coloured in their own hands and then attached to the tree and for the Friday mayhem the girls made head bands for the kids which they all coloured in and then wore for the last day of the week.

Volunteering Fiji, Gau (6)

On the build we had Sally, Leah, Angela, Dan, Rich, Rupert, Nathan, James and Will helping Jimbo and Niko, they started off by moving the materials to the build site and profiling the building so that they know where the holes were needed to be dug for the posts, they flew through day on and had the entire plot profiled and all the holes dug ready for the posts to be concreted in, so day 2 was sawing all the wooden posts to length and then they started to concrete them in. Now in Fijian custom when you begin concreting foundations of a building into the ground it is custom to have a few words of prayer said, so the priest of the village came to the build and blessed it for the team. By the end of Friday the guys and girls had completed concreting all the posts and started to saw the tops of the posts to the correct level ready for the next step of the nursing station.

Volunteering Fiji, Gau (5)

The team started off the house singing competition this week as well, in house we had Abi, Dan, Leah and Sally who chose the song ‘Aint no mountain high’, in another house was Hannah, Nathan, Angela, Steph and Will who decided on the Mama Mia song for their team, while Laura, Rupert, James and Lottie were in house and chose Jackson 5 ABC, finally in house we had Charlotte, Kate, Hollie, Rich. The team have until next Friday to prepare their houses for the songs.

Volunteering Fiji, Gau (2)

For the first rota of sports the guys split themselves up into 4 groups, Laura, Charlotte, Nathan, Will and Hollie took the kids for cricket training, Rupert, Dan, James and Rich taught rugby, Leah, Steph, Hannah and Angela helped with rounder’s and Lottie, Kate, Abi and Sally took lacrosse with the kids everyday for an hour in the afternoon after school, which is a great chance for the kids to try out sports that they would never of had a chance to play otherwise.

Volunteering Fiji, Gau (7)

Outside of project this week, the team have been doing a lot of grogging with their families and the villagers, as well as some extreme dance moves being pulled out for the hop hop. The team also had a night where they were taught how to make Fijian baskets out of coconut tree leaves and also bracelets and mats as well, a great Fijian culture which the team enjoyed thoroughly. The weekend will see the team heading back to school to have some community rugby and netball matches with the villagers of Qarani. A great start to the first ever Gau project and the team are in full swing.

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Moturiki – Farewell Yanuca


Volunteering Fiji (8)

The community of Yanuca is now just not complete without our volunteers. Everyone has become an indispensable part to the community. It’s amazing to think our guys have become this close to the whole community in just 3 weeks. With the final week approaching, it’s been without doubt another superb week on project!

Yanuca has been lit up by various traditional Fijian activities this week. We started with the team getting introduced to the vibrant displays of the Fijian Meke (traditional dance). With plenty of practice our guys should be ready to perform it at the opening ceremony of the toilet block next week. Tom has been allocated as chief ‘shouter’ during the Meke, which has kept the Fijians well entertained. With the whole village coming down to the hall to clap and cheer on our guys during the Meke practices, it’s certainly created a great atmosphere in the village during the evenings. In true Yanucan spirit, the grog and hop hop has also been in full flow this week as our guys try to keep up with the Fijians. The team also tried their hand at some traditional Fijian bracelet making. As other guys continue to perfect their bilos or start on other ones, the souvenir collections are coming along nicely! Whether it’s dancing, playing cards, drinking grog or generally enjoying the company of everyone around us, this week has brought a new energy to the village. ‘Family Night’ has also continued to be a volunteer favourite. Whether it’s been Flo, Kate and Maisie having a girly night in with their Fijian sisters and baby brothers or Tom and Toby getting teased by their mum, everyone is loving the opportunity to get well and truly stuck into family life.

Volunteering Fiji (1)

The final rota on project has seen the build spring up into its finished shape with the doors and windows attached. We’ve also made sure the locks have been added to save any embarrassment when eventually sitting on the thrown! So after a lot of hard graft it’s finally time for the paint job to begin! Karina, Sophie (Jackie Chang), Megan (Rambo), Lucy and Joe have dawned the painting overalls and have set to work changing the build from a standard toilet block to a work of art (and there ain’t many loos you can say that about!) On reaching school in the afternoon for sports, the rest of the team need never ask what colour we had been using that day as they just had to look at the painters themselves! There has been a massive buzz on the build this week and even the village elders have popped down to give their support and helping hand. Again guys we cannot fault the efforts put in on build and it is looking ace! Vinaka.

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With our time at Moturiki District School coming to end, our volunteers made sure it was a big final week in school. Jen kicked things off with an anti-bullying campaign for class 7 with the help of Rob, Toby, Rachel and Kate. This was a great success and is sure to leave a lasting impression with all the kids who took part. Our guys got the kids to come up with their own ideas and then make role-playing dramas and posters about the issues associated with bullying. It was a great way to incorporate lots of skills into one lesson so well done team! Kirsty continued the high standards with her interactive outdoor game to help understand coordinates and graphs better. Again, by getting the kids out of the classroom, Kirsty helped provide a new platform for improving knowledge and skills in school. Maisie took control of the ‘dream team’ in class 6, which included her Fijian sister Una. Maisie had a great time taking this small group of kids and helped offer some real benefits by going through exercises at a pace that suited each child individually. Toby provided one-on-one support for two boys in class 5 who were clearly struggling. Toby worked on using different teaching methods to see what would work best for them and showed real passion in trying to make a difference for these boys who needed that extra help. Flo also couldn’t resist but pop into class 2 for a day to see her little darlings again! House Cup has reached new levels this week with the start of singing and public speaking. As the volunteers clear the cobwebs from their throats, it’s set to be a tight finish for overall champions. Sports’ coaching has also continued to keep all the kids well entertained in the afternoons and helped broaden their sporting horizons!

Volunteering Fiji (3)

Kindi has been thriving this week with Tom, Rachel, Flo and Kate putting in a stella performance. Our guys started the week with a bang by creating an almighty ‘days of the week’ palm tree. This has helped the kids learn what day it is instead of saying the usual, ‘it’s SunnyDay!’ Our girls have continued the superb arts and crafts while Tom has taken Toby’s place as the Kindi climbing frame. Tom and ‘the boyssss’ have made kindi even more of a madhouse than usual! Meanwhile, Rachel and Kate have become natural kindi teachers and kept the children smiling all morning. Tom’s protégé Jone, has stolen the show this week and kept our guys laughing all through kindi. Our kindi team have also done a great job at getting the children excited and eager about sports and active games so it’s been a great effort by everyone. As we head into the final few days in Yanuca our team is desperate to make the most of every last moment. With a very busy schedule to finish our time in the village it’s sure to be another spectacular couple of days!

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Week 4

After an amazing few weeks in Yanuca, it’s time for our guys to say their emotional goodbyes to their new family and friends on Moturiki. The difficult farewell is a reflection of how close we’ve come to everyone in Yanuca and shows how much we all care for this wonderful community.
Our time in the village concluded with a great last couple of days. The farewell kicked off with a Fun Day at the weekend. This had the whole of Yanuca (as well as lots of kids from around Moturiki) joining our volunteers on the beach for various games and activities. A coconut shy, splat the rat, sponge a leader, and lots of cake kept everyone well entertained all afternoon. With the sun shining it was a wonderful day spent as a community. Some touch rugby and a splash about in the sea also helped make our little village become the place to be in Fiji! A long skipping rope also gave way to the glorious sight of some of the village elders showing off their skills. It’s not every day you see a 70 year old man busting some moves with a skipping rope! We finished the day with a tug of war between our guys and the Fijian kids. We could pretend we gave them a good match but it’s safe to say the Fijians pulled us to the ground every time! A Think Pacific Fun Day isn’t just about having a great time with the village, it’s also a way to help raise some money for the community and our guys worked very hard in ensuring the day was a success so a vinaka vaka levu to everyone!

Volunteering Fiji (6)

Our time at school finished with the finale to the Think Pacific House Cup – Public Speaking and Singing a great way to decide the title. After battling through Art, Photography, and Sport, it was neck and neck for top spot. With everything to play for it was Soqe, led by Sophie, Tom and Kirsty who prevailed! An outrageous performance of ‘the circle of life’ by Toby, Rachel, and Lucy and the kids of Kasaqa wasn’t enough to stop them getting the wooden spoon. Meanwhile, it was Kula (Flo, Jo and Megan) who just missed out on the top spot closely followed by Kikau (Maisie, Kate, Karina, and Jen.) Throughout the project our team have been creative, imaginative and joyful in getting the kids involved in extracurricular activities. The beam of happy faces across the school is a great sign that our guys have smashed it! With one last rugby and netball game against a neighbouring village and a tea party hosted by the teachers at school, we say our goodbyes to Moturiki District School. If our guys thought it wouldn’t be an emotional goodbye they needed to think again as all the children sang a farewell song about how much they would miss all our volunteers.

Volunteering Fiji (5)

A big part of this expedition was to build and install a toilet block for the village. As the build got its final coat of paint and any finishing touches, we added a team logo to make it truly unique. It is now there, taking pride of place in the centre of the village. Our last day in Yanuca saw the whole village come down for an opening ceremony. It was clear how much the village appreciated and treasured the team’s efforts and their kind words reflected this. The Priest came down and spoke of great appreciation and gratitude to everyone who helped make a dream become a reality for the village.

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Before we ventured to the hall for a final grog and hop hop session, we performed the much anticipated Mekes. The girls got the ball rolling, much to the delight of the village and even managed to nail all the moves as they got showered with talc and ribbons. The boys were up next and dressed in true Fijian warrior attire, the whole village were in stitches as they performed the meke putting a small stamp of their own in! And on that note, it was time to get changed and enjoy a final meal with our families before embarking on an all-nighter. We Danced, grogged and laughed our way to sunrise before saying our emotional goodbye to Yanuca.

Volunteering Fiji (4)

It’s been a truly humbling experience for all our volunteers and one that we shall never forget. As we leave this beautiful community, we leave behind friends and family who have cared for us, looked after us and loved us like sons, daughters, brothers and sisters! There are no words that can do it justice so as a team we set sail in the knowledge that Yanuca will always be in our hearts and forever a second home. It has been an incredible 4 weeks, full of memories that will last a lifetime so we say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped create an experience that our volunteers can treasure for years to come. And to everyone in the team, you have all been outstanding from day one and have helped make such a difference for the village. So Vinaka vaka levu to everyone who has been part of this expedition!
Rob, Euan and the whole team!

Monday, April 15th, 2013

April 2013 ten week expedition begins!


Bula Fiji

Our April 2013 ten week expedition is officially underway!  Although most of the team have been arriving into Fiji over the past few days and enjoying some pre-project relaxation at Smugglers Cove resort, today the team finally all came together, as leaders Tom and Nigel met the last volunteers who arrived into Nadi Airport just a few hours ago. Our team of 22 are currently heading along the Coral Coast of Fiji’s main island. By this afternoon they will have reached their first destination, the tiny castaway island, Leleuvia.  The sun has put it’s hat on, which always promises a paradise style briefing!  Over the next few days the team will enjoy games and activities on Leleuvia and presentations by the Fijian Ministry and our leaders as they get ready to begin eight huge weeks of volunteering and traditional village life on Nairai Island.

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Gau Island – April 2013 five week team briefing


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It’s been a beautiful weekend in Fiji and our April 2013 five week team have been relaxing well into South Sea Island life!  The last couple of days have involved team games, snorkeling and kayaking and time to get to know one another in preparation for the volunteering ahead. This expedition promises to be a very special one indeed;  the first ever team to visit the island of Gau.  The Fijian government arrived to brief our volunteers and explain the project objectives ahead, which include establishing the first sports coaching and kindergarten programme, leading primary school lessons and inspiring the local Fijian children through the introduction of the ‘TP house cup’, incorporating art, drama, music and academia.  We’ll also be achieving a large scale building project as our volunteers rolls up their sleeves to create a health clinic.  It’s going to be a unique and rewarding few weeks on Gau Island, everyone has been waiting with anticipation for this project to start and we can’t wait to see the expedition unfold and the achievements our group make.