Archive for August, 2013

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Moturiki – Our volunteers are leaving a lasting impression in Fiji.


Volunteering Fiji (3)

Our volunteer project is in full swing and our team have made some tremendous achievements in recent days.  The community building project in Nasesara is coming along leaps and bounds. The building volunteer team of Alex, John, Steve and Claire have put in the hard graft and we now have the toilet block well underway for completion for the community! There’s been plenty of sawing and nailing to fit the walling as well as a quick introduction into plumbing. With a huge septic tank being dug, our guys have also tried their hand at brick laying as well as continuing the infamous ‘cement volcanoes.’ The guys also got treated to some cakes and drinks as a celebration of the roofing being put up.

Gap Year Sports Coaching (1)

The sports field has seen a lot of action this week, from sports coaching to community netball. The boys (Vaughan, John and Steve) have been working closely with the U12 rugby team who are training for a national tournament in Suva. We’ve been shaping an almighty front row to compete against the best. Tackle bags have even seen an appearance in helping prepare the boys for match day! Meanwhile, the girls have been helping develop and progress the Moturiki School netball teams. As well as rugby and netball, the team has gone the extra mile in introducing new sports such as Rounder’s and cricket. Rounder’s has instantly become a favourite, with the kids now being able to hit the ball better than we can! We finished the week with a big game of dodge ball, which saw Vaughan teach the kids the 5 golden rules: dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge! This week also saw a community netball game between the TP team (including our boys) and the ladies of Navuti and Nasesara. With some solid defending from Steve and some sharp shooting from Faye and Alex, the TP guys prevailed. The very muddy field made for an amusing contest with everyone slipping and sliding in a manic game. We’ve also had plenty of Volleyball in the evenings with all our Fijian mums, dads, brothers and sisters in Nasesara. With lots of laughter, the daily games have certainly kept the entire village well entertained!

Gap Year Teaching (6)

As the school term winds to an end, we say our farewell to Moturiki District School. In just a few weeks the whole school has left a tremendous impression on all the Think Pacific volunteers. All our volunteers have inherited the same enthusiasm from all the children, getting fully stuck into all aspects of teaching. From Maths and English, to Science and Sports, it’s been a huge pleasure and a very humbling experience. We finished our time at M.D.S with Faye, Hayley, Imogen and Charlotte lighting up the village kindergarten, while Vaughan assisted throughout the school. Vaughan’s passion for teaching has been clear from the start and he has managed to motivate and enlighten in a variety of lessons. Regardless of the subject, our volunteers have been superb at keeping the kids entertained as well as making quick progress through the curriculum. The girls in Kindi have landed on their feet and have instantly become loved by all the little munchkins! From singing and playing games to learning about the importance of brushing your teeth, Kindi has been thriving this week. Overall, it’s been a fitting end our time at school and we can’t thank the children enough for such a meaningful couple of weeks. We are, however, pleased to announce the return of the Think Pacific Youth Camp for our final week in Nasesara! School may be over but that won’t stop us from spending even more time with the kids in new and exciting activities. From Science experiences to Sports games, the TP Youth Camp is set to be the perfect finale for our volunteer project and to end our time with all the children at M.D.S.

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Moturiki – Faye’s Fiji village experience


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I’ve just returned from the village shop having bought some breakfast crackers. Now we’re drinking lemon leaf tea with some pancakes and homemade pawpaw jam with our Fijian family. We only have four days left of our project but it’s been an absolutely brilliant experience. One of our favourite aspects of this project has been village life itself.

Walking down the path on our way to school each morning it is impossible to pass by a house without hearing “Yandra kaivalagi, mai kana, mai kana” (Morning white person, come and eat). Fijians are so friendly and welcoming you immediately feel at home.  Everyone’s doors are permanently open which has enabled us to meet some very colourful characters, for example, Bu Lati, a crazy 80 year old Fijian woman with a striking blonde afro (resembles Madge from Benidorm). Such characters partake daily in an infamous Fijian pastime known as ‘story time’. Story time is basically a huge gossiping session in which the Fijian women love to get all the volunteers involved and it is hilarious.

Community Work Fiji (4)

One difficulty we have experienced is helping our Na (Fijian mum) around the house. Everything is done for us and we are treated so well. Duties such as washing dishes, clothes and collecting water often result in a race which led to a Fijian casualty- Kalusi down. However, with a bit of persistence we are now finally allowed to do the dishes, wash our clothes and we even peeled a carrot.

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Friday and Saturday nights in the village are spent hop hopping and drinking grog (Kava). Hop hop consists of guitars, singing, clapping, some crazy dance moves, the odd conga line and a lot of laughter. Whilst everyone is hop hoping, Kava is prepared in a huge bowl at the front of the room and offered around individually in a carved out coconut shell. When offered grog you must cross your legs, clap once, drink and then clap three times. Fijians can drink an unbelievable amount of grog often resulting in them crawling home.

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Some other highlights of village life have been making jewelry out of coconuts, weaving bracelets, fans and baskets out of palm leaves, learning Meke (traditional Fijian dance), quizzes, playing lots of sports and having huge banquets with our clan.

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Moturiki – Vaughan gives his insight to coaching in Fiji


Sports Coaching Fiji (8)

One of the main reasons I was attracted to a Think Pacific expedition was the fact that it was going to a country whose people are almost as obsessed with rugby as I am, and it didn’t take long after arriving at the village of Nasesara to be proved correct. The first conversation I have had with any Fijian man I have met has started with them asking “Do you play rugby? What position? “, and I think they are even more excited than me for my eagerly anticipated debut for Nasesara’s senior team. In school last week, I experienced first hand the natural ability in rugby that pretty much every Fijian boy has, after being left on my backside more than once by killer sidesteps! Despite this, I’ve still managed to convince a few that I’ve played for Wales! We found out in the early stages of the project that the Lomaiviti Islands (Moturiki, Ovalau and some of the surrounding islands) under 12s rugby team would be training at MDS, in preparation for a tournament for all the districts of Fiji’s primary schools. After speaking to Master Cama in school, and giving him some tips on how to improve his scrummaging (himself being a prop like me), he asked me to stay later after general sports coaching, to coach the forwards of the team, some basic techniques which will help their rucking and tackling. They hadn’t been taught the correct technique of how to tackle, and were relying on what seems to be the Fijian way – running into the person with the ball and trying to hurt him! We ran through a couple of drills on Wednesday and on Friday, by then I could see an improvement in their techniques in a few areas of their game. I’m already looking forward to spending some time with them next week to continue their development.

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Moturiki – Jonathan inspires with new teaching methods.


Jonathan Pics (1) Jonathan teaching Fiji

Three days into teaching class 7 at MDS, the main challenge seems to be getting the kids engaged with what’s going on in class.   Faced with a naïve, eager volunteer such as me, the kids are very happy to run wild, so within minutes paper planes, games of some sort of table rugby, and minor fights are everywhere.   Thankfully, there’s a fairly easy solution.  Give them something new and exciting, and all of that enthusiasm, energy, and competitiveness goes straight into that.  My mother, as a teacher of a similar age group at home, anticipated this, and so 30 individual whiteboards, complete with pens and erasers, came with me to Fiji.  The children absolutely loved them, fighting over handing them out and what colour of pen they would get.   Fractions questions were suddenly incredibly exciting, and despite some fairly outrageous cheating, most of them seemed to pick up a lot very quickly.  By the end of a one and a half hour lesson, some of them had drifted back to the edges of the class, but a solid group of about eight were still going strong.   Within the three days, a few of the brighter ones had covered all of the fractions and decimals on their syllabus.  Max, a class 8 boy who wants to be a pilot, has turned up at our house two nights in a row, asking to do percentages and averages (with the whiteboard, of course) until we go to dinner.   Definitely a success.

The other major source of excitement has been the school’s surprisingly well stocked (if badly labeled) supply of chemistry equipment.  Dehydrating and rehydrating copper sulphate was a huge hit with the kids, although burners filled with petrol rather than kerosene made it hard to see the colour change until we cleaned the test tubes.   It was surprisingly easy to get class seven to write the whole thing up, and the main problem was keeping them from playing with the equipment after we had finished.  A quick tour of classes three and four produced similar amazement, if slightly less understanding.

My whole experience with the children of Moturiki, cheeky as they are, has been brilliant.  I only wish I had longer to spend out here with them.

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Gau – An amazing final day for our volunteers.


Volunteering Fiji (5)

What an amazing last day in Malawai! It was so eventful I don’t know where to start!
The morning was just chilling and cramming all our souvenirs of mats, palm birds and fans into our already full rucksacks.

Volunteering Fiji (8)

Then we all headed down to the hall for an informal church ceremony and the start of the nights proceedings! It seemed like the whole of Malawai and Lamiti were in the community hall and there was a fantastic atmosphere. After a few words from Master Kinney to say goodbye to Think Pacific some of our guys responded with a heartfelt speech written and recited by Emma, Kate, Charlotte P and Charlie thanking the village for all they had done for us. It was greatly appreciated by everyone as they said their goodbyes and added to the events atmosphere.

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We then filed out of the hall to open the toilet and shower block which ended up being a bit of a comedy scene! As the whole event was running on Fiji time it was dark when Lulu and one of the elders stood outside the build and said some words of thanks to everyone involved. As we have had no electricity during our stay there was a makeshift generator to provide a, lets say, not so substantial light which was placed in one of the toilets and was possibly the loudest motorized noise heard! So here we were, standing in almost pitch dark,looking in the general direction of the build and not hearing a word! Much to the amusement of all of us!

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It was then back into the hall for a huge feast! Prawns, crabs, big fish, roti, curry to name but a few of the delicacy laid out for us! As soon as the ladies removed the places the grog bowls handed out and before you could say ‘bilo levu sinai’ (big bowl full) everyone was grabbed by the village and as commenced the final evening of grog and hop hop till the early hours. It was an amazing send off by the village of Malawai and was a day and night I’m sure the volunteers won’t forget it for many, many years!

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Gau – The building project is complete and it’s time for some R&R


Volunteer Building (1)

On our penultimate day we had the full group working to complete the build and adding those finishing touches to make it really stand out in the village. Michelle helped to fit the doors, Charlie and Laura filled in the trenches for the piping, Abbi, Evie and Lydia (our resident artists) finished off a magnificent logo on the side of the toilet block whilst Rich, Max, Hannah, Jess, Ombler, Patch, Emma, Kate and Sophie touched up some of the paintwork and cleared the site. At the end of our final volunteering effort we all decided to treat ourselves to a 2 hour trek to some stunning rock pools, caves and waterfalls! An hour long walk along the beach and then an hour inland brought us to the pools,which is rarely visited by the locals and have probably only been seen by a handful of Westeners ever! After a swim upstream through the 3 layers of rock pools we did a bit of potholing in the caves and discovered some powerful and stunning waterfalls inside. It was a magical place -  we felt like we were discovering something for the first time. After expending all our energy swimming and jumping into the pools we all sat down and tucked into the packed lunches our families had prepared for us to give us the fuel for a soggy, exhausted but very rewarding stroll to our homes in Malawai.