Archive for March, 2015

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Build Achievement – Extremely proud moment for our volunteer team & Uluibau community as new UPS Kindergarten is officially opened!


After 8 weeks of hard work and dedication, Wednesday proved an extremely proud moment for our volunteer team and the Uluibau community as the new Uluibau Primary School Kindergarten was offiicially opened! The day started off with a traditional ‘SevuSevu’ ceremony put on for all the guests who had come for the occasion to be accepted and welcomed to the village.

Whilst we were doing this the ladies of the village decorated up our new building, and so when we stepped out of the room where the ceremony was held, the Kindi was truly something to behold. With palm leaves over the door, and balloons and banners on the inside, it was a clear display of how appreciative the village was to our team for the hard work they had put in.

Moturiki Jan 15 - Week 8 - Opening Pic 1

The rope was cut by the Ratu, or Chief, of the Village, and the building was announced as open. Following this the team, the people of the village, and all the school children went inside as the building was blessed by the Preacher. The school then sang hymns and the Headmaster made a very moving speech about what this Think Pacific team had brought to the village; not only in terms of the building itself, but the attitude and team-spirit they had demonstrated.

We were then taken out onto the field outside the school for a tea party, before the school performed a traditional Meke dance for us. It was a very special day, and it was an incredible moment to see the building in all its glory!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Moturiki Team – House Cup reaches epic climax with public speaking, singing, dance and sports finals!

Moturiki Jan 15 - Week 8 - House Cup Sports (1) Pic 1

The Tuesday of the final week saw the culmination of the Think Pacific House Cup. The remaining events were Public Speaking, House Song, and House Dance, before going out onto the field for a classic Sports Day to see which house would be crowned the winners.

The Public Speaking was competed for by one person from each house in Classes 3 & 4, 5 & 6, and 7 & 8. The children were judged on their clarity, posture and pronunciation. The children did amazingly well after being coached in their English Classes over the past four weeks by the volunteers. The team had chosen a tongue twister of ‘Betty Botter’ for Class 3 & 4, a speech from the Hunger Games for 5 & 6, and the poem ‘Invictus’ for 7 & 8. It was a proud moment for everyone to see all of the children do the speeches, and although winners were crowned everyone deserved all the credit in the world.

Moturiki Jan 15 - Week 8 - House Cup Finals (11) Pic 2

Following this it was onto the House Song. Each house prepared a couple of verses and a chorus of popular songs with their house, and each performed in front of everyone else to see who would come out on top. There are few sweeter things in the world than seeing a group of Fijian children sing-a-long to songs with the biggest smiles on their faces, and again it was a total success.

Dance was equally wonderful to watch, with short routines prepared and rehearsed by the team with their houses. One of many things everyone has learnt is Fijians love to dance, and this gave the children, and the volunteers, the perfect opportunity to show off their skills. With the competition exceedingly close, we then went out onto the field for the sport side of events.

Moturiki Jan 15 - Week 8 - House Cup Sports (6) Pic 3

The houses competed in a sack race, three-legged race, a tug of war, and finished off with relay sprints. One of the highlights for the team has been getting them out on the sports field, and to have one final opportunity to do so and compete against each other was amazing for all involved. After a very impressive showing in the sports, dance and song, the winning house was House Hunt, captained by Aimee, Archie and Harriet H. House Cup has been enjoyable, and an activity that certainly brought the volunteers closer to the school children across the 8 week programme!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Koro 6 Month Team – Updates from the wonderful world of Kindi in Vunivasa & Nacamaki!

Vunivasa Kindi (16) Pic 1

Vunivasa Kindi

Changing our topic from numbers to the alphabet this week was a big step for the kindi kids. However, despite the occasional remark of ‘what’s this letter?’ ‘1?!’ we saw some incredible progress in their letter recognition between A-F, which, considering that English is their second language and they are aged 4-5, was thrilling for our kindi team!

One of the most amusing moments in Kindi this week was when Sam accidently snapped the pipe leading to the tap which resulted in Charlotte, Graham and our kindi kids getting soaked from head to toe and squirting water all over the room! Overall it was an amazing week of progression and fun, as our volunteer James says:

“It continues to surprise me daily how many children’s songs there are, surprises me more how well I seem to know them! Some classics include ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ and ‘If you’re happy and you know it’. These songs, alongside the kids, have returned me to my childhood, although I’m supposed to be growing up not down! The children are wonderful and to see such improvements already is inspiring.”

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Nacamaki Kindi

This week our objective was numbers 1-20, which was soon descaled to 1-5 after a chaotic first day. After hundreds of great renditions of number songs, they slowly started to understand. We went back to our childhoods and remembered ‘what’s the time Mr. Wolf?’ and with the assistance of the TP puppet, Kitty, it was a huge success! We added a number based duck duck goose and the kids quickly learnt to recite 1-10.

The next few days we spent trying to introduce the visualisation of the numbers, we placed the numbers 1-5 In the middle of our circle, whipped out Kitty again and soon the kids were fully engaged. By the end, even our 3 year old could recognise the numbers. It was an absolute triumph and we were extremely proud of him.

Our volunteer Tess offers further insights into a big week in the Nacamaki Kindi:

“Craig, Stuart and I have been in Nacamaki kindi this week, which has been a really fun change. Each morning goes by ridiculously quickly, in a blur of singing songs and playing games. For learning time we split them into 3 small groups, and have been focussing on counting up to 15. There’s been lots of hilarious moments, especially every time they all go crazy for the grand old duke of York, and some extremely tense games of cat & mouse. Kindi’s Macarena skills are also improving with every day, and Friday ended on a high, playing sports with the rest of the school, which left them all very giggly and hyper for going home for the weekend!”

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Medical Placements – Sigatoka Hospital & Community Outreach Programme – Leeds University students Emily Aucutt & Emily Windle enjoy 2 week nursing placement in Fiji!

Medical PLacement - Emily & Emily - Leeds University (15) Pic 1

We arrived at Sigatoka hospital on Monday morning having been in Fiji less than 24 hours, and dressed in our blue scrubs we were ready to see what the next 2 weeks had in store for us. The staff were all very welcoming and much like us intrigued by the differences in our healthcare systems. With us both being called Emily they soon had names to distinguish between us; Emily Tall and Emily Short.
After an eye-opening tour around the hospital Emily tall was placed in the Children’s ward and Emily short was placed in the Men’s ward, where we spent our first week. It was hectic from the start with both wards being full to the brim. The children ward was even overflowing into the men’s and women’s department and nurses lounge
  Medical PLacement - Emily & Emily - Leeds University (11) Pic 2
Once we got used to the heat we both got stuck in, Emily short got involved with wound care which used very different techniques compared to England due to the lack of recourses. She also got involved with busy drug rounds, observing the differing protocols for drug administration. From her week on the men’s ward it was clear that diabetes, wound care and infections are large factors leading to hospital admissions.
Meanwhile Emily tall was experiencing life as a nurse on the children’s ward. With a recent surge in cases of pneumonia, the usual 8 bed ward had over 15 patients. Her days were spent taking patients vital signs, helping with drug rounds, talking to mums and giving advice. With one patient requiring surgery Emily tall was able to take the opportunity to help transport the mother and child to the larger hospital in Lautoka in an ambulance driven by firemen, and it was great to see the bigger divisional hospital.
  Medical PLacement - Emily & Emily - Leeds University (2) Pic 3
After a busy weekend spent jungle trekking and attempting to surf at the Beachouse, both Emily’s moved over to the Community Team for the final week. These last 5 days were full of village health checks, settlement census ‘s and school visits. The 2 villages we visited were Nasama and Vunavutu, where we spent the day checking the entire villages height , weight, BMI, blood pressure and blood sugars, screening for obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. After seeing a constant stream of villagers for hours some of the village women would cook lunch for us and we gained an insight into village life.
It was clear from these health checks that high blood pressure and diabetes are 2 very large health issues facing Fiji today. On numerous days we visited settlements to fill out a census on the people in the houses, giving us the opportunity to learn about their living conditions. The hospitality was great, as we were always offered a drink and welcomed into their homes, and they often showed a lot of interest in our English background and Manchester Utd!
 Medical PLacement - Emily & Emily - Leeds University (19) Pic 4
For both of us our favourite day was our final one at Namata school. After riding in the boot of a mini bus we arrived at the school to be greeted by over 60 smiling primary school children. Whilst we completed a quick head to toe check, looking for any cuts or sores, the children also received vaccinations and some basic dental care. We think that it’s fair to say that Fijian kids are pretty tough, with even the smallest children barely flinching at the needle.
Overall we have had an experience like no other, the staff have been unbelievably kind, even offering us to visit their village for Easter. Although there are similarities between the English and Fijian healthcare systems it has been an eye-opener and we have come to appreciate the abundance of recourses we have in the NHS. It is obvious that with the great medical staff that Fiji has, there is a great potential for the healthcare system to develop much further in the coming years . It has been two weeks that we defiantly won’t forget.
Vinaka vaka levu to everyone at Sigakota Hospital and Think Pacific!
From Emily ‘Tall’ and Emily ‘Short’




Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Moturiki Team – ‘Some of our greatest memories from project’; A huge final week of activities in Uluibau for our volunteer team!

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Bula! Time is absolutely flying here in Uluibau as the TP team have just completed our last week of project. The week’s activities have been especially memorable for us all. Every morning and afternoons we’ve been having hymn practice for our leaving service in Church on Sunday. This was tricky to begin with but has progressed over the week with the team now even trying out harmonies!

What has been emphasised more this week than anything else has been the kindness and generosity of the Fijians, shown on Monday when we were invited to a meal as a whole team hosted by one of the village families. This was an extremely enjoyable evening as we dressed up formally for the family to show their appreciation towards us. Following on from this we held our last team quiz, it is something we have done every Monday, and something we have enjoyed every Monday!

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Terrific Tuesday was another cracker starting with Meke practice after sports, where we practiced the mixed Meke dance. This was great fun and we have all started to get the hang of it and are all excited to perform it for the village next week. Tuesday was a free night of kava drinking for most of the team. However, Harriet H, Clemmie and I went out with our leader Charlie and some of the village boys for a night of spear fishing under the stars. This was an amazing experience for us all as we were all quite nervous, which made actually doing it so much more. We were out for about 2 hours and caught lots of fish and I even got a lobster. Spear fishing has been something everyone would call a highlight of the trip.

bonnfire (3) Pic 3

Following onto Wonderful Wednesday, the afternoon activity was collecting wood along the beach for a bonfire later that night. Getting all the bamboo together was a big team effort but stands out as one of my highlights of the week as we watched one of Fiji’s famous sunsets over the ocean. The bonfire itself was so much fun chatting, taking pictures and listening to music under the stars, a truly incredible night.

Thrilling Thursday was a rainy day which means one thing …. Touch rugby! We had a great game with some of the volunteers carrying on to play netball with the village ladies. In the evening the generosity of our new friends was demonstrated again with another invite extended to the whole team for another delicious meal. It was caught, cooked and served by two of the village boys, Asaeli and Manasa, two of the people we have grown closest to in the past two months. The feast they had prepared for us was incredible being two key spear fishermen in the village, the meal consisted largely of huge fish. We all then went to the beach, stuffed, to discuss ideas for the fun day on Saturday.

funday (3) PIc 4

Funky Friday was already so focused with the whole team on the build, and then going straight into another game of touch under the hot sun. The night was perhaps the most memorable for all of us. It began with another feast for us all, this time put on by the chief, with a delicious variety of food, finishing up with a nice cone of ice cream. We then all headed to the community hall for cross dressing evening! The girls got into their bula shirts, even drawing on facial hair, and the boys put on their colourful dresses which were accessorised with hair clips, jewellery and hand bags! It was a hilarious evening that we will never forget.

final sabboth service (5) Pic 5

Sunny Saturday was our village fun day! The team were all assigned a different stall, for example a cake stall, an assault course, lime bobbing, and throw a sponge at a TP member! The day was a success with the team raising money for the benefit of the village. In the afternoon we practiced our Meke, and then spent the night drinking many bowls of kava.

Special Sunday was another absolute highlight of the week as it was our farewell church service. The team prepared a speech which was ready by Olly, Finn and I to the congregation. We also performed our song for the village which was a special and emotional moment for us all.

Rounding the week up we would all agree that this has been one of the best yet for activities and have given us some of our greatest memories from the trip. I love Fiji!


By Hannah

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Koro 6 Month Team – Sports Update; Hockey & Cricket introduced at Vunivasa and Nacamaki Primary Schools!

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It was a big week of sport on Koro island last week as our 6 month volunteer team ran introductory sessions of Hockey and Cricket for the students of Vunivasa and Nacamaki Primary Schools.

A fundamental aim of the sports development programme across our project settings is to introduce new sports and activities to the students, so that they may learn and engage in new skill sets, whilst also developing talent and interest across a range of sports. And they certainly have a huge amount of natural talent, as our volunteer Taff says:

This week I introduced hockey to the kids of Nacamaki school and they took to it like ducks to water! I was absolutely gobsmacked by their ability to pick up a new sport. There seems to be no end to the potential that Fijian children have as athletes and I am making it my 6 month mission to unearth it!”