When we first arrived in Fiji, the team spent a few days on the paradise island Leleuvia to get acquainted to the new surroundings, “to settle into Fiji-time”. After some days of rest, volleyball matches and quiz nights the new team mates got to know one another.
On our first night in Tovulailai, our final destination in the south pacific, the host families sang songs and welcomed us warmly with flower necklaces. It was a very prestigious welcoming; the village chief presented the most respected gift of the Fijian culture to the team – the Whales tooth!
The first few days in the small village have been exciting for the TP-Team, as for the Fijian community. We were invited to traditional Grog ceremonies and the team have let this side of Nairai know that TP can party with their Hop Hop (dancing).
The families are doing their best to make the volunteers feel at home, surpassing any of our expectations. Being accepted as sons, daughters, brothers and sisters has meant this place already feels like a home from home.
To start the project, Danni, Beccy, Fiona and Ally have opened a new kindergarten in tremendous style. Wasting no time in transforming the empty house they have adopted with visual aids. It has been song time which has had the place bouncing – “Banana’s unite” and the “Moose song” has caught on and can be heard anytime throughout the day!
The rest of the girls have kicked off the first TP team in the Deveta school. Bernadette has helped the headmaster with class 7 & 8 – turning hangman into a class favourite! Bryony has kept control of the nippers in class 1, 2 & 3 whilst teaching Maths. Bronwen and Lizzi have had the children of class 4, 5 & 6 out on the field with a practical space lesson – the children being planets and walking round one another.
Meanwhile the boys have got down to some manual “graft” as they begin to build a new girls dormitory at school. Within a week they have dug, cut and cemented the foundation posts, add to that Will losing his eye brows because of an “on-site” bet.
The whole team meets at lunch time at school and dons the coaching cap: teaching rugby, netball, football, rounders and hockey to the students. Nathan’s heading game has been a hit – giving header and catch the opposite meanings has created a good few laughs at the volunteer’s expense.
We ended the school week with a youth camp on Friday afternoon, themed solely for Langer’s love for Pirates. Lead by Tom and Nige the team took part with the children. Naming their group “ships” they competed in team games and sports.
After a tiring week on project, and a lie in, we jumped on the boats to spend our Saturday relaxing on a tiny island off Nairai – fishing, swimming, snorkeling and playing volleyball. The lunch we helped prepare was lovo (traditional underground oven), we cooked the fish and lobster we caught (helped) and ate them out of clam shells. The day was almost too good to be true and a perfect end to the week.
Having shaken off the “grog over” from the previous nights of hop hop, notably Will’s birthday, we accepted the invitation to a Grog ceremony in the neighbouring village of Lawaki, where we shall stay for our last four weeks on the island. It is a true privilege to take part in such cultural events with two communities who similarly enjoy spending the evenings with us in this traditional way. Even if it is just to hear Fiona sing!
It has been a great start to project – having settled and become accustomed to Fijian life. Bring on week two and the start of the house cup!