It’s been five weeks in Fiji that Savuna and Moturiki will never forget; an incredible month of hard work, laughter, inspiration and unique experiences. Challenging projects have been achieved with huge success. Fijian kids inspired by so many lessons and activities. New family and long lasting Fijian friendships formed. And by the end, the experience left the village of Savuna in tears, such was the emotion as our volunteers boarded their boats and waved goodbye to their Fijian home. This is the diary from Lulu and Luke of an expedition, which we hope stays long in the memory of every one of our May 2012 volunteers, Vinaka!..
As the project enters its second week our building manager jimbo has been hugely impressed with our volunteers’ commitment and how much work they have completed in such short time. The new shower blocks are looking fantastic, with the first completed already and the refurbishment of the church hall is well underway with the entire inside of the building now finished.
As for school; our volunteers have settled quickly into the ryhthm of Moturiki District School and the kids seem to be loving the attention and extra support. The team have started to bring lots of new ideas forward. House speaking competition is proving popular as the children learn and practice poems, which they’ll read aloud to the school during a planned an end of project competition.
In Kindergarten, everything is in full swing, with the boundless enthusiasm from the youngest kids keeping all the team busy. This past week has involved face painting, portraits and making a lot of mess with different colours. Both the kids and the volunteers thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The team have been invited by the Headmaster, Master Mika to train the boys in rugby and the girls in netball ready for a big school tournament in Levuka in two weeks’ time, so after school, kindi and build have finished the team train the kids in their sports for an hour every day getting them ready for the tournament.
On Thursday we had the another school, Uluibau come across and together the best rugby and netball teams were picked for under 9’s, under 11’s under 13’s and under14’s, so now the volunteers can focus on perfecting the skills of best young players from the island. On Friday the team were invited to watch a rugby sevens tournament in Burreta on the neighbouring island of Ovalau. Heading across for a day trip, the whole day the team watched the competition and cheered on Nasauvuki – one of the villages from moturiki – and relaxed in the sunshine.
During evening cultural nights, we’ve had mat and basket weaving taught by the Fijians, using leaves from a coconut tree to weave some awesome souvenirs. The team managed to pick up the technique almost immediately. And at the weekend the team all took their snorkels and masks and headed for the beautiful reefs surrounding moturiki, time to swim in the Pacific and have their first try of spear fishing.
As we finish our third week on project there is a hint of sadness around, as we all know the project will soon be coming to an end. However, this merely spurs everyone on to make the most of Savuna and spend as much time as possible with families and Fijian friends.
The building project is almost complete, with six brand new showers for the community of Savuna which will go a long way to improving the standard of sanitation and daily living conditions for the villagers. No more long walks to the well or the collecting of rainwater for the bucket showers. The church has also now been given a full repair. Being the centre of this little community, we allocated funding to complete a magnificent make over for all the villagers to enjoy.
School this week has seen the volunteers really give an extra push to designing and delivering their lessons. One-to-one focused lessons with kids who have been falling behind in their subjects have proved invaluable. It’s incredible to see what can be achieved working individually with students and the valuable contribution and difference this makes in a short time.
Kindi this week has continued a very creative theme, with the kids drawing a human body and learning to name different parts. Some impressive and brightly coloured banners have also being made, which will be used to cheer on the school during the impending rugby and netball competitions!
The team took a trek into the jungle to visit a cave near Savuna, where in times gone past, Fijians would take their sick, so that they could look after them away from the village and upon their return the team were taught how to make a bilo; the traditional shiny cups, made from carved coconuts, which the Fijians drink their ceremonial Kava from; another brilliant souvenir to take home and another great insight into Fijian culture. Night spear fishing with the local Fijians was also on the cards this week and most of the guys were successful, bringing home their dinner with some very impressive skills being shown!
Our girls participated in an island netball match against Navuti village and the boys challenged in an island rugby match against Nasauvuki village. Unfortunately neither of our sides were able to beat the Fijian’s this time round, but great spirit was shown and the whole occasion was huge fun for the island communities, who treat our matches with carnival atmosphere!
To finish the week we all headed to the village of Naicabecabe who kindly laid on a huge dinner and party, with dancing, music and grog, which went on until the early hours of the morning! On Saturday the team took on a huge trek, visiting every village on the island. The trek was a tiring one; cutting through the jungle and then around the coast from Naicabecabe to Daku village, to Uluibau and then to Nuibasaga village, where we stopped for some lunch in the chiefly settlement (and home to our expedition Leader, Lulu). From here it was on to little Wawa village in the far corner of the island and finally back to Savuna. An awesome day exploring Moturiki; An 8 hour trek and a full day meeting the entire population of the island! The team were naturally in bed pretty early in the evening!
For Sunday the team headed to church with their families for what will be there last Sunday service in the village. The entire team got up and performed a song for the village in the church, the village were hugely grateful and the rest of the day was spent relaxing and thinking ahead to their last week in Savuna.
Time is coming to its end in this beautiful community. But the team and the leaders are all also focusing on doing our very best to finish the project on a real high and leave a legacy and lots of fond memories for the villagers. It’s the final chance to be in school, build and kindi after Sunday’s day of rest, Monday is game time again!
The team are on full fire, it’s mayhem in kindi, with paints and books galore and lots noise and laughter carrying across the island. The school team as well as assisting the teachers are in full flow getting preparations ready for the Moturiki District School’s house cup completion. The building team had a big challenge ahead with two showers yet to be completed, and the shower doors and the painting of the church roof all to be finished in the final two days too.
Afternoon sports coaching has been great fun but also a muddy affair! The team always head back to the village through Navuti and it was always hilarious saying goodbye in the afternoon and kids shouting out “moce” or “moce savuna”. Our passing volunteers, who are now so well known on the island means Fijian joking and banter is common place and constant between locals and the tp team!
After a busy day of youth and teaching projects, we headed back to Nassesara to get a boat ride to Savuna, it was getting dark during the journey back to the village and everyone was singing happily, their voices cheering up the rough seas.
After debriefing, the guys have a quick wash ready for dinner and then meke practice begins after dinner. The guys catch on really fast learning the traditional dances; they’re certainly impressing the Fijians.
Evenings have involved the competitive team quiz, and some late nights in the hall for a few bowls of kava, including an evening with the villagers from Wawa who came across to visit the team and see the building achievements.
On Wednesday it was final touch up for the build and cleaning of the building site; all were helping from the team and village to get the project completed in time. The final afternoon in school, team headed to MDS for the house cup competition, which was a hugely successful day. The kula house won the house cup on this project and the teachers commented how thankful they were for our team’s assistance and the new ideas and skills brought from overseas to help improve their students.
After the house cup competition and school fundraising the team stood in front of the school assembly square very quietly to experience their last flag ceremony and after the kids sang to the guys their farewell ‘think pacific song’ it was really sad to hear their lovely voices. An emotional end to a fantastic school project and then it was time to say our goodbyes to the kids of Moturiki.
The afternoon in school was rounded up with a lovely tea party that was prepared by the teachers and the school community to thank the volunteers for what they have done in school and kindi and not forgetting a few bowls of kava and a few rounds of hop hop before we headed back to savuna village!
Thursday morning we headed across to Levuka to support the kids of moturiki who are competing with the kids of Ovalau in the rugby and netball competitions! The guys were making a lot noise, spuring their little star players on and the kids did very well and were on a winning streak. Unfortunately the games had to be stop because of heavy rain, which was such a shame as Moturiki could have really been in with a chance of taking home the trophies. The team headed back to Savuna and despite the games being cancelled the team sang and joked all the way home in the pouring rain.
The team had the opportunity to spend the last nights with their families, cooking and eating delicious Fijian food, drinking grog and relaxing at their homes as well as further fishing trips to the reefs. As the village experience draws to a close it’s important to spend as much time as possible with our families and enjoy some traditional and kaiviti life.
The last day was coming all too soon, bags all packed and boats ready for the journey back to the mainland the next morning. Tears crawl down everyone’s faces during the farewell church service. The team perform proudly to the village, a big dinner and grog and hop hop continues until midnight then the music stops but grog continues. Sunday morning the team leave the village early and it was the quietest and saddest boat ride back to the mainland, the pain that we carried back with us will take some time to recover from it, and though the pain may disappear it will never be forgotten.
After the emotions of village life, the four days R and R before they head back to their final destination are greeted with a mixture of sadness at leaving the village, but excitement at enjoying some home comforts, ice cold beer, hot showers and time to relax in Fiji’s tourism paradise before the team say a final farewell to each other and head their separate ways.
On behalf of think pacific and Savuna we would like to thank all the volunteers for all your great, unforgettable hard work. Who knows when you’ll visit this place again, but remember always that your time will never be forgotten by those closest to you on Moturiki and we look forward to seeing you again. Vinaka vakalevu ni sa moce.
Lulu and Luke