We’ve settled into Fijian life on the tropical and lush Island of Gau quickly. Despite the back to basics conditions and natural adjustments to island life, It’s sure to be the immense hospitality and unconditional friendliness of the local people, which will make this experience something so memorable. The volunteer projects are all fully underway, with the team divided into primary school teachers, kindergarten leaders and builders and despite some days of heavy rain, we’re determined to get stuck into the project elements and achieve all the aims with bucket loads of fun and laughter along the way.
The kids greeted the team with whistles and shouts of excitement, which helped settle first day nerves in the classroom. It was a warm welcome to Nukuloa School and our volunteers did a great job getting to know the children’s names before taking control of English comprehension and mathematics lessons, which turned out to be a bit harder than expected for some of us!
The school has simple facilities but a wonderful atmosphere and very friendly staff team. To find our feet we’ve been shadowing and assisting the Fijian teachers, this will move on to more adventurous individual lessons and new subject matters to tackle over the coming days. Kindergarten has a small roll of ten kids currently, and the little ones were shy at first with their new visitors from afar. This soon vanished with the introduction of song time and frantic games and activities unfolded!
The team have also been making their first mark on the building project, as work begins to create improved sanitation facilities for the community – by the end of our five weeks, the village of Levuka-I-Gau will have a brand new toilet block, with four toilets, wash facilities and septic tank. At present lots of digging and hard graft is being achieved each day as we start the construction, much to the villagers delight.
In the afternoon sports coaching has been the name of game – with fierce battles of rounders taking place and eager children enjoying their first taste of new sports and activities. With a huge Athletics meet in Sawaieke School for all of Gau islands’ village children, our team also got straight into the action training the kids tournament fun too.
Evenings have seen the team head into the community hall to learn all about traditional Fijian skills, the Fijian men showed the team how to make baskets from coconut leaves as well as nooses which they use to catch prawns, while the ladies taught our team to make traditional Fijian bracelets and rings from coconuts. All great souvenirs for our team to take home with them. In between the volunteering and cultural events, the team have enjoyed heading for fishing and snorkeling excursions and venturing into the jungle behind the village as they explore more of their tropical new home. Here’s lots more pictures of our October five-week volunteers and their experiences so far in Fiji: