After a few days on the island of Leleuvia, swimming, relaxing and getting to know one another the team finally made their way to the island of Nairai and the village of Natauloa and their home for the next 8 weeks. With the water very calm the team had a quick crossing on Monday morning to the island and we were welcomed on the beach by the villagers of Natauloa. The volunteers presented a Sevu Sevu to the village and they were introduced to the families with a welcoming meal. Their first night on the island saw a big grog session in the community hall. Everyone tried the kava and many stayed until it finished at one in the morning.
On Tuesday the team headed to the school and introduced themselves to the teachers and children. They also viewed where the building site will be for the new kindergarten school, which they will be building for the village over the next two months. After lunch the team took a trek up to the nearest peak for a fantastic view of Natauloa village. Next it was time to plan the first weeks’ volunteering rota. Our two teachers Georgia and Dave started in school, joined by Caroline and Rob and Poppy, Emma, Ciaran and Ben started their project in the kindergarten. Henry, James, Ryan, Cheryl, Corinne, Anna, Gordon, Nick, Sarah, Harry and Helena all took on the huge task of the building project – time to start work on the foundations with our building manager Jimbo.
Tuesday night was relaxed family night for the team as they prepared themselves for the volunteering. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday saw the team start their first full days on the project. In school, Georgia and Caroline made a tree in classes 4, 5 and 6, out of outlines of the children’s hands and feet. The children also started an ‘all about me’ project. In class 7 and 8 Rob got stuck in helping out with maths, science and English. He made a quiz for the kids on Friday with lollies for prizes for the winning students. Dave started in classes 1, 2 and 3, helping the younger kids of Natauloa school with basic English and maths, starting with the alphabet and also counting skills; very different to his secondary school geography teaching back home in the UK. The kids very quickly warmed to our volunteer teachers and the first lessons proved hugely successful.
In kindi Ciaran, Poppy, Ben and Emma started off getting to know the kids and making and learning the routine for kindi. Kindergarten is a fairly new concept to the island and what started off as 2 children In kindi on Wednesday turned in to 11 by Friday as the word spread across the villages. New concepts to kindi included a daily weather chart, a day chart, attendance sheet and they also put together nursery rhymes for the kids to learn over the coming weeks. Kindi was soon a loud and creative place to be!
As for the building project, the team got stuck into profiling the building, sawing the post for the foundation, collecting sand and gravel from the beach and digging holes. By Friday the team were starting to concrete the posts into the ground. As they concreted their first post, the preacher of the island came and blessed the building. The team quickly flew through concreting and the foundations were almost half complete by the end of the first week.
The team also started their sports coaching. Harry, Rob, James, Gordon and Ryan all started with rugby. Georgia, Emma, Corinne, Ciaran, Helena, Cheryl took rounders, Poppy, Sarah, Henry, Caroline and Anna coached netball while Dave, Nick and Ben took football, every day the kids rotate around the different sports giving them a chance to try them all as well as giving the team the chance to coach all ages of the school.
Aside from the great volunteering efforts this week, the team were busy getting to know the villagers, visiting each others houses for lunch and dinner and enjoying the hospitality and communal atmosphere. Thursday night saw the villagers teach the guys and girls how to make Fijian baskets out of coconut leaves and also fans, bracelets, rings and all other types of souvenirs for the team to take home. Friday night saw the team relax in the community hall and have a grog party with the villagers while they sang Fijian songs. Saturday was a time for the team to spend with their families, some went snorkeling and fishing out on the reefs, others had picnics or were taken to their families’ plantations to see where all the Fijian food is grown.
The teams’ first Sunday on the village was a chance for them to attend a Fijian church service in the morning and witness the amazing choir. Following this, they had ppp’s with their leaders and then all came together to chat through the plans for the next week of project and also to plan the events of the ‘School House Cup’, which will bring art, drama, music, debating and sports competitions for the children.
After a relaxed weekend the team were raring to crack on with the volunteering again. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on the building project, the team completed the concreting of the posts into the ground and also the two big masts which will hold the roof up. It was a huge job putting those posts into the ground and it took almost half the team to carry them, but they are now standing proud and strong in the ground and concreted and the formation of the building is complete. The team were now able to attach the joists to the posts and start on the cross rafters for the flooring, so the new school is flying by!
In school, Georgia and Caroline now have their teacher back so they were able to focus upon children in the class who are struggling in certain subjects. Dave in class 1, 2 and 3 is going from strength to strength. Rob in classes 7 and 8 has been pushing forward with his English and maths lessons as well as teaching the kids some new topics of his own.
Monday also saw the team start the house cup competition, with house arts and crafts first on the agenda. The volunteer team have been separated into 3 houses with the school kids and the competitive spirit is already beginning to show. Sports continued to flourish, with all school years participating and rotating across different sports, to gain as much experience as possible.
Tuesday night saw some of the team head out night spear fishing, Sarah, Corinne, Harry and Anna all went with Lulu bear with spear gun in hand. After a few hours of fishing they managed to catch a good amount of fish for the village.
It’s been a busy start to project life, from the great efforts on the building project and the strong start to the school, sports and kindergarten programme; we know the team are going to achieve great things in the weeks ahead. This weekend, we have community rugby and netball matches as well as a trek across the island to visit the neighbouring villages, so it’s all go on Nairai Island!