Past volunteers

Volunteer stories: Danielle Dilley


Leaving the village was one of the hardest days I have ever experienced. After 10 amazing weeks in the village we had all become very attached to our family and friends of Naicabecabe.

Having finished the build, Kindi and sports at the school there were plenty more things going on in the final 10 days of being in the village.  One thing we did was go to a traditional Fijian wedding in the neighbouring island village of Yanuca where we saw the groom getting dressed up in his bark paper dress and salu salu, he also had sandalwood put in his hair to turn it a ginger colour. We then went to the bride’s house where we saw a whales tooth presented to the bride’s family, she was also finishing getting ready. There was a church service like in traditional English weddings which was followed by as feast then Grog . Gifts were given to the couple and the family ladies dressed the new couple’s house with nets, cushions and all the presents that had been given. We had another fundraising evening to raise a bit of money for the school, the TP team competed in a games evening where we either took part in a game of Uno or Snakes and ladders.  I won the game of Uno and got a big packet of biscuits. There was then a mass game of poker for the final packet of biscuits which I think Joe was desperate to win as he did several forfeits to get back into the game. One of the funniest moments was when he walked into the new cupboard past a group of Fijians that were drinking grog. He stood in there for a couple of minutes before coming out and the Fijians looked at him funnily then checked inside the cupboard.

The competition between the TP team didn’t end on the fundraising night, it was then followed by the TP Olympics where we were in 3 teams and competed in Frisbee, Football and Volleyball. Tension was high between teams to win the title of September 09 winners.  I was in the winning team that won the Frisbee and got enough points in the Football and Volleyball, I think it was the pink bandanas that did it for us. The trophy is now on its journey with us to Nadi before its send off into the sunset on our last night together.

For the last couple of days I tried to spend as much time with my family as possible. We had a family party one evening when Adams family, Tomasi and Laura came for evening dinner which was then followed by a Sevusevu in the family house where we had Grog. Helen was appointed as Ratu and I was Mata ni Vanua. It was one of the best evenings I have had in the village with my family there was lots of jokes and stories being told, one of the things I will miss most about the village.

During the last few days the family parties continued and we had so many good evenings together, it seemed strange that our time in the village was now coming to an end as we all referred to it as home and still are at the moment.

Our last full day arrived and we were all dreading it. Spirits were high in our house in the morning until we went to church at 10am. The ladies in the church choir had already started getting upset before Holly, Joe and Oli had done their speeches. We all joined in with Jesu Na when the choir sung too, our favourite from the Sunday services. We all ate together on Sunday in the hall which was nice.

Throughout the afternoon I tried to see as many of the villagers as possible and take photos before our last evening meal together as a family where we gave gifts for the family. Little Bose looked so cute in her little matching Mickey outfit and Marika in his T-shirt. They really appreciated the gifts for the baby that’s due in the New Year too. After dinner was a quick nap before we started the all night party in the hall.  There was plenty of grog, dancing and games in the hall from 12 o’clock, but once we started to see the sun rising it hit us that the party was coming to an end and the day that we had all been dreading had arrived. The guitarists and ukulele players began playing ‘I’m leaving on a jet plane’ and ‘Isa Lei’ which was awful. The whole village came out to the sea wall and there were lots and lots of goodbyes being said before everyone came out to the boats. It was a horrible morning, everyone was so sad to see us leave the village and it all happened so quickly.

From the village we headed to Caqalai emotions were very high on the boat and barely a word was spoken, the following few hours were awful, everyone wanting to be back on Moturiki, the island we could see (or swim to) from Caqalai. The remainder of that day was spent reminiscing about what a great time we have had in our special village in the South Pacific.

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The whole 5 weeks was absolutely amazing, never a dull moment, it really was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Katie Thorn, Derbyshire
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