Archive for May, 2013

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Moturiki – Latest from our gap volunteers in Niubasaga!

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Our gap year team got off to another flying start this week as the atmosphere in the village continues to pulsate. The first volunteering rota continued with our guys getting fully enthralled with project life. In school, the good work has continued to blossom, with heaps of ideas and inventiveness on offer to all the children at MDS. Molly has got the kids in her class using their imagination and developing their English with their very own Mr Men books and individual stories. A favourite being a ‘Mr Man’ who went on his holidays to New ‘Sea’-land! We’ve never heard of the place but it sounds good to us! ‘Captain Pete’ has continued the good work with their course work and some extra (more exciting) classes on geography and our planet. Pete also managed to leave behind a legacy of his legendary star chart, promoting good behavior in class 7.

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Although swapping classes, Rhiannon has again been taking control of a class on her own covering for an ill teacher much to the delight of the kids in class 1. Their energy seemingly endless but with ideas like using cones to make maths more interactive it is no problem to her! Well done bud. Ben headed off out into the ocean for a lesson on the sea and its creatures this week. Learning with the kids about the vast wildlife in Fijian waters and splashing about in the process! Finally Tess, no stranger to getting innovative with class 6 managed to take some great lessons covering everything from writing formal letters to learning about the human skeleton. We also caught her dancing along with the kids from class 6 during their ‘Meke’ practice, so it’s easy to see why the kids love her so much!

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In kindi, the “Kindi-Garden” was completed and stuck up, bringing life to one of the walls this week! From “flutterbees” to “monkeys” and “willy the worm,” it certainly is a garden bubbling and bristling with life and energy just like kindi itself. Well done to Katie, Soph and Jessie for an amazing time that the kids truly enjoyed. The increase in the numbers attending kindi by the end of the week is a credit to the girls.

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Back on build, the team has made some sizable leaps and we now have the rough frame, shape and size of the build standing proud for all to see! Teamwork has been key on build this week and with all hands to deck walls have sprung up in no time! The build site has seen a lot this week and that’s not just with regard to building. We’ve seen pull-up challenges, hammering contests between Jacob and Josh to decide who will captain the rugby game, gymnastic displays from Sarah and the architectural integrity from Jody.

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The souvenir collection is steadily increasing with the team all getting shown how to make bilos this week (a traditional Fijian cup used for drinking kava). With a lot of elbow grease and a helping hand from a few of our Fijian brothers, the bilos are looking like the real deal! We had our first rugby and netball matches this week with varying results. Even after dawning war paint the girls went down as ‘narrow’ losers to the school team. This proved to be only a warm-up game as they mixed in and played a game with the local ladies in a game where roars of laughter and giggling was a sure sign everyone had fun! Some mean defending by Katie accompanied some accurate shooting from Tess and Sarah while Lucy dominating the midfield a sure sign our guys will be set to improve in the next outing. The boys then mixed in with the Niubasaga men and took on Nasesara in a very tight game ensued with big Josh making some good ground with strong carries for our guys. Meanwhile, Ben was flying in to rucks like there was no tomorrow. Pete and Jacob were running things from 9 and 10 respectively and Harvey showing his pace and a wingers sniff for a score getting a crucial try that tied the scores 10 points apiece. With the game finishing a draw, a few sore bodies will have woken up the next morning but all of our guys enjoyed some competitive sport and are all hungry for their first win!

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The weekend started with a bang as the team got dolled up for a Moturiki style birthday party for Sophie. It’s safe to say, getting a whole village to celebrate your birthday is a very special thing and a day Sophie and the rest of us will never forget. Dressed like a Fijian princess, Sophie drank kava and danced the night away and celebrated her 19th in true Fijian fashion. Saturday morning saw the leaders, Rob and Euan, joined by Captain Pete and a couple of Fijians taking on the Fijian forest in search of Bamboo to make rafts. Once the bamboo had been collected, the team went to work in using those useful Boy Scout skills in turning bamboo into a vessel fit for the Pacific Ocean. Molly and Jess worked on making a flag to scare away enemies (the smiley face was maybe a bit ambiguous), while Jacob, Jody, Ben, Pete, and Harvey set to work turning the raft into a wrestling arena. The TP raft may not have been perfect at floating but that is simply a minor detail as our raft sits majestically in the bay of Niubasaga!

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After a quick shower, the team was ready to trek across to Nasesara for a meal and an extra special hop hop as the rugby club was hosting a fundraising evening. With the kava flowing and the Fijian songs blasting through the hall, it was a superb night of dancing and socializing. Due to some heavy rain, we ended up having a little sleep over in Nasesara and got picked up the following morning by the boat but that simply added to the fun.

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It’s been another immense week here in Niubasaga and we’re all ready and set for the next adventures to begin…

Vinaka,  Euan, Rob and the TP team in Niubasaga!

Friday, May 31st, 2013

More photos of our volunteering achievements on Nairai Island

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Here are some more pictures of our gap year team over on Tovulailai. Everyone has been working extremely hard to towards the construction of the village community centre and it’s a delight to see how excited the villagers are as their building rises from the ground with impressive speed!  In other areas, our volunteers have continued to inspire the children through a range of kindergarten, youth, sports and teaching volunteer programmes and we’re building up to a big house cup, which shall culminate our youth initiatives in a few weeks – with debating, photography, public speaking, art competitions and sports competitions all starting well.

Aside from the volunteering efforts, there’s been time to enjoy bonfires, fishing, treks, palm weaving, feasts and ceremonies over the past weeks or so, to the point where Fijian life, the challenges of subsistence island living and local culture and customs are becoming second nature to our volunteers.  Days are flying by as the team grow into their volunteer roles and Fijian family life and we look forward to seeing more impressive achievements with completion of the community centre as we build up to a rewarding finale!

Friday, May 31st, 2013

May five week team – Castaway briefing


Here are the first pictures of our May 2013 five week volunteer team as they enjoy their castaway briefing from beautiful Leleuvia Island.  Everyone is settling in very well to South Pacific life, getting to know each other with some fun team games and learning more about the project aims with briefings by the Fijian Government and our leaders. We’re preparing to make a huge impact with the first ever youth, teaching and building aims to be completed in the village and it promises to be a very exciting occasion and a very big welcome as our group set foot on Gau Island very soon!

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Nairai – Gap year volunteering update from Tovulailai

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With the school holiday still on-going, week 3 continued with our volunteer team smashing the build and Kindi projects and sustaining there incredible start. However with our gap year volunteers now becoming more fully accustomed to the Fijian lifestyle, week 3 also brought about our pilot run of a new project element… ’Kaiviti’; a host of activities to enable the volunteers to experience traditional Fijian skills and daily activities -  from fishing and farming to mat weaving and cooking lovo’s, which has wasted no time in becoming a fans favourite!

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The ROOF, the ROOF, The ROOF is on fire… not literally, but with a week of blistering hot sun, the team have worked tirelessly ensuring the build finished the week sporting its shelter. A number of the guys have conquered their fear of heights, non-more so than ‘Holly man united’ who supplying her own nails from home has looked a natural builder! Nevertheless the success couldn’t have been achieved without our amazing ground force team consisting of Sophy, Van the man and Rebecca!

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The ‘little bundles of joy’ from kindi were treated to some new faces this week as Harry, Alice, Elle and Chloe became involved within our ‘sphere of learning’. The new personnel didn’t waste time bringing their ideas, as the beach bungalow was turned from chaos into a calm, educational haven, with soothing background music; the 3 to 5 year olds were in a silent trance throughout the morning’s learning. After a 10 minute wait, anxiously waiting for them to demolish Tea and cakes, they returned to their normal wild and overwhelming state, this became the story for the rest of the week. Although there was one child who didn’t wait the 10 minutes to devour the baked goods….Kili just couldn’t resist!

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‘Kaiviti’ meaning Fijian people is our new aspect of project, which allows the volunteers to experience the authentic day to day life of a villager. Within their families the volunteers are taken to the plantation which is the families’ main source of food and considered their pride and joy, so it didn’t help when Langer sat on a 5 year old kava plant! Here they get a chance to plant and farm the land, with each volunteer returning to the village carrying the fruits of their labour. In the afternoon the guys are taken out fishing, the girls taking on the woman’s role of line fishing and the boys expected to become men by returning with a catch from spear fishing, a skill each Fijian male should possess in order to prove they can provide for a family.

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This week Holly, Libby, Seth and Harry were taken out on Wednesday with the girls catching nothing more than a cold and the boys proving they can provide by cutting fired wood in the morning and then returning with some fish later that day. On Friday it was the ‘girl’s house’ Elle, Chloe, Alice and Christina accompanied by Langer who got the chance to become true Fijians, Langer made up for his mishap in the farm by returning to the village carrying a bundle of taro, the traditional way. In the afternoon they were treated to a trip to the island that sits in front of the village, where Sala taught the girls line fishing; however Chloe faced some difficulty as she refused to touch the bait of choice, crabs. Langer hoping to show the girls how it’s done and prove he’s the provider… returned empty handed! Luckily though, Jone caught and they were treated to lunch on the beach, an amazing experience which will remain a highlight during their expedition. With each family set to be taken out during the coming weeks it looks evident already, that Kaiviti will remain a fundamental part of project life.

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The week’s evening activities kicked off with the weekly routine of Tuesday night = family night, which always involves a lot of grog. After partaking in family kava sessions the volunteers then decided to go on a ‘grog crawl’ resulting in everyone congregating in ‘Big Jon’s bar’, into the early hours of the morning. The boys finishing the night naming as many Manchester United players as they could, Poborsky, Van der Gouw, Pallister and Irwin receiving a deserved mention.

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Still bearing ‘grog overs’ from the previous evening’s binge, Wednesday night allowed for some chilled village interaction, as the women turned up in their numbers to add to the volunteers souvenir collection and teach the new members of the community how to make bracelets, which then turned to headbands, once Alice modeled her new stylish addition. Thursday evening the team were treated to a huge feast within the shed, in appreciation for their hard work on the build and in celebration of the first roof panel being secured. The evening then continued with a packed out kava ceremony, which imitated a local pub from back home; with a game of poker taking up the back corner, the elder men trading stories about ‘back in the day’ and the women chattering away along with the young men indulging in a deserved few scoops for their hard days graft, all proving valuable ingredients for a memorable night. Saturday allowed for the week to end on a huge high, labelled as the best day yet! After breakfast the team made the way across to the neighbouring village, Lawaki, an hour long trek along Nairai’s scenic coastline. Arriving in the village we performed the traditional ‘sevu sevu’ ceremony as they welcomed us into the community. After the ritual we then headed off on to the waterfall trek, again a beautiful half an hour trek this time through the bush, we arrived at this concealed paradise, which the team wasted no time in taking advantage of by jumping in 1 of its rock pools.

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Returning to Lawaki, the locals had laid on a huge delicious feast, the volunteers again wasting no time as they conformed with the ‘kana vaka levu’ (eat plenty) chants that filled the hall.  The remainder of the afternoon was spent relaxing over a few bowls of grog before a carefree walk home. The day proved a fitting end to an unforgettable week, with the team in great form leading up to the half way stage.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Moturiki – Project update from our May 2013 gap year volunteers

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After an incredible few days relaxing on the castaway island, our May 10 week volunteer team have finally arrived and settled into the village of Niubasaga! This chiefly village of Moturiki will become home for our gap volunteers over the next 2 months.  So here we are, week one down and our feet have barely touched the ground! We arrived to our new home for the next two months on Saturday afternoon and were warmly welcomed in by the whole community and after a quick official welcome into the village we all immediately started getting to know our new Fijian brothers, sisters, mums, dads and friends better. Sunday was a relaxing affair and the team witnessed their first Fijian church service and a chance to hear the beautiful choir voices. The service was led entirely by the women of the village as it was Fijian Mothers day. We then all ate together as the men of the village had cooked a lovo (traditional Fijian cooking method) to give the mums a well deserved day off!

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The first rota has seen Rhiannon, Tess, Peter, Molly and Ben help out at Moturiki District School. The guys have had a superb first week at school getting fully immersed into their teaching roles. We’ve seen it all in school this week, everything from maths games to science experiments, to even pondering the meaning of life! The kids have made sure there hasn’t been a dull moment in school for our volunteers. Rhiannon has taken control of class 3 and has been fantastic at getting the kids excited and eager to learn about Maths and English using fun stories and games. Molly started this week with a bang with her very own science experiments in class 4. She’s become a natural in school and has set the bar very high for the rest of the expedition! She helped put her class through their arithmetical athletics ensuring all the kids in her class are gold medallists in multiplication! When she found out the times tables were written on the back of the kids’ workbooks they may have slipped out of a medal finish but we’re sure Molly is going to have them back up in poll position in no time. Tess has taken to teaching like a duck to water and smashed the first week at school. She has taken the reins of class 6 and has worked closely with this little intimate class.

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From teaching English and Maths to getting involved in learning about Fiji’s rich cultural heritage, Tess has already become very popular amongst all the children. Last but not least we have our two boys, Peter and Ben, who have definitely enjoyed the authority and power that comes with teaching! Peter has taken class 7 and has set to work on making sure all the kids become great thinkers of tomorrow. Class 5 has enjoyed the company of Ben who has done a great job at working in small groups with kids who are struggling, to give them that extra bit of help. It’s safe to say the first week at school couldn’t have gone any better, with all the kids and teachers very impressed with the efforts and enthusiasm from all the volunteers so a massive well done to everyone.

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Kindi has seen the whirl wind trio of Katie, Sophie and Jess thunder through its doors this week. The girls have matched the energy the kids bring every day! Walk passed the kindi classroom and you’re bound to her our girls and the children laughing away, not to mention the occasional ‘awwww’’ and ‘he’s soooooo cute!’ Kindi has been treated to plenty of songs this week with ‘the little green frog’ being a volunteer favourite! With activities like hand prints and painting for arts and crafts, our guys have made sure the kids are all having a ball! Topped off with some extremely messy and frothy yet effective toothbrush time, the kids have made sure our girls will never forget their time at kindi! With plans to introduce a theme for next week, our trio are certainly making the most of their time here and appear to be complete naturals at controlling the little rug rats.

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The build team have continued the amazing start to project with an outstanding first week. Our guys who have grafted all week digging, concreting, lifting and shifting wood in the Fijian sun should take a bow. Harvey, Josh, Jacob, Jody, Sarah and Lucy have worked away without complaint even when some “iffy bowls” made a brief appearance to the build site. But everyone has had a smile on their face and a spade in their hand. Sarah was so desperate to get stuck in she very nearly did get stuck as she slipped into one of the holes dug out for a post! What more could we ask for? Not a thing! The build has already taken a drastic leap from the bare ground we started with just a week before! With the music playing and the sun shining down, everyone has had a great first week and can’t wait to start building the frame come Monday.

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The House Cup competition also started this week, helping the kids get involved with extracurricular activities. House Art and Photography has kick started the competition and already we’ve seen some very artistic displays from both the kids and our team. Along with sports coaching we are very lucky that this term includes an inter-school youth rugby and netball tournament on a neighbouring island. With the pride of our school and island on the line, all our guys are working hard in coaching and training the various rugby and netball teams so they are ready to compete and triumph in the tournament come week 6!

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It appears lots of the team are fighting for top dog status in the grog hall and trying to keep up with the Fijians. It seems at least one volunteer has spent the evening drinking kava with the elders every night, much the delight of the Fijians! Friday night saw Niubasaga host a grog and hop hop extravaganza in which all our guys had a wonderful evening of grog and dancing. Our guys had a day of snorkelling and volleyball to shake off any ‘grog-overs’ on Saturday. Team ‘Black Hurricanes,’ made up of Ben, Jacob, Josh, Semi and Rob took the crown at volleyball while everyone got to see some amazing fish and coral off the Niubasaga coastline.

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We couldn’t have asked for a better first week in Niubasaga and everyone is eager for the hart work of week 2 to begin! With our volunteers feeling right at home, week 2 our gap year project promises to build on the success of this initial week as we really start to make an impact on the volunteer programmes.

Vinaka vaka levu!  Rob, Euan, and the Nuibasaga volunteers!

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Nairai Island – A fun filled second week in Tovulailai.

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It has been a fun filled second week for our team on Nairai. With school out, the kids have provided an extra buzz around the village. It is great to witness how everyone has settled into their new families like they have been a member of that household for years. Walking through the village at meal times you can hear the likes of Langer calling others into his house for food. Io, mai, kana!!

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Our project day has been tweaked a little with no teaching and the introduction of our youth camp down at the school. In the mornings, we have split between a ‘pre tea’ team and ‘post tea’ team. The ‘pre tea’ team getting stuck into the building first thing in the morning to then tag the others in after our mid-morning tea party in the shed. With an intense few hours of building from each team the progress of Tovolailai’s community hall has been phenomenal. We now stand in front of an erected structure, with a sub floor and wall frame. Libby, Holly and Becca were joined by Seth in the sphere of Kindi this week. Looking over the bridge the deceivingly looking quaint building contained the likes of Grace, Charlie and Rossi. All of whom have taken incredibly to the routine and have the days of the week absolutely nailed down. Kili the eating machine however, is a working process as he continues to interact with his eyebrows.

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In the afternoons, the team have trekked to school to deliver youth activities. Despite just the children of tovulailai in attendance the few present have had an absolute ball. In the arts and craft department they enjoyed making some crazy looking hats under the theme of witches and wizards. Notably, the real fun and for a better word ecstasy, was out on the sports field in the form of Dodge ball.  The dodge, duck, dive, dip and dodge game has been the staple diet for this week’s sports. The children have gone nuts at the very mention of a ‘new game’ and so have the team.

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This week’s village activity was bilo making and with the religious fasting of grog lifted the team have become a ‘little’ more accustomed to drinking Kava. The evening provided some great interaction with the villagers and the opportunity to make their own cups to drink from and take back home as souvenirs. Friday night kicked off an immense weekend as the team jumped on the fishing boats and sailed around the opposite side of the island to Vatuna. Spending the night there a traditional sevu sevu welcomed the team before an incredible feast of fish and root crops. After a short digest the team returned for the main event – the grog party! With the band playing and the kava flowing the team relaxed as they made new friends from around the island. A special mention has to go to the chap who strummed his torch and sang his heart out all night long. What a guy!

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Nursing a few ‘grog overs’ the team rose early on Saturday to a hearty breakfast in Vutuna, in preparation for the days community sports matches over at Davetarua School. First up was the netball match which the girls of TP faced up against the ladies of Tovulailai. In an end to end first half the girls lost their lead to head into the break trailing 9-8. Under the scorching sun the girls pulled off some intricate plays, and delightful goals. Notably, Sophie running her blood to water and Holly finishing superbly was the back bone of a fine performance from the team which included Jess, Chloe, Christina, Ellie, Alice and Becca. The sun proving stifling hot the match became mixed in the second half and the boys did not manage to hold back the Tovolailai’s assault, eventually losing 18-13.

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Next for the games was the boy’s opportunity to test themselves against the natural abilities of the villagers. Playing the national sport of Fiji the match was 7’s Rugby. The TP boys vs Tovolailai. Struggling yet managing to catch a hold of the dancing feet of the villagers, the TP boys walked away victorious. The leaders putting the fine performance down to Jacks preparation, Van’s enthusiasm and Steve’s ruthlessness.

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Sunday’s day of rest was a god send for the team to rest their tired bodies after a busy weekend and project week. Hearing the rumour of a feast in Lawaki, a hand full trekked to the neighbouring village for a church service whilst some caught up on journals and read. Fully recuperated the team are set to get stuck into another week on project. If the first two weeks are anything to go by, all bodes well for week three.