Past volunteers

Volunteer stories: Emma Mckelvie


Emma Mckelvie

I’ve officially been back in cold, snowy England for three days now and I already want to be back in Fiji! I miss everything about it so much; seeing the children’s happy smiley faces, everyone saying “Bula” and inviting me into their house for food, all the banter and laughs with the tp team and just feeling such a part of the village. I really can’t believe how quickly the 10 weeks has gone.

Every single part of the expedition has been amazing and I loved being involved in all the projects, spending two weeks in kindi, two weeks teaching class 8 in Uluibau Primary School and three weeks on the build. The build was personally my favourite as I really enjoyed getting stuck in with the walling and flooring, doing plenty of sawing and hammering in the nails whilst hanging out of windows or up the handmade ladders. It was always so much fun, the music would be blaring and plenty of banter going on.

Even when we weren’t on projects I still had a brilliant time with coaching netball to the school kids, forming a netball team with the Fijian ladies and playing at tournaments. There were quiz and movie nights, we learnt the art of weaving and cooked with our families. We performed the traditional meke and sang in church every Sunday.

Bonfires were made on the beach, I went on snorkelling and fishing trips. We organised a variety show, a juice party for the children and the village fun day. We climbed Ruku Ruku, swam in the rock pool and enjoyed plenty of grog and hop hop sessions.

One of many highlights for me has to be the opening of the community hall as you’ve seen it go from scrap land to a beautiful building that we are able to give to the village. It’s something that will always remind them of us and represent our time spent in Uluibau.

Eventually the day to leave the village crept up on us and we all found it so hard. My Fijian mum had been crying all week and the night before we left my family organised a leaving feast for me and Hannah. Before we started eating, Gordie my Fijian dad gave a speech saying how much he’ll miss us, that he could always trust us 100% to leave us in charge of the house when they had to go to the mainland and that we are part of the family and always welcome back.

It was right then that it really made me realise how much of an impact we’ve had on them, the difference we’ve made and how after only 8 weeks I feel so comfortable and at home in the village. I did not want to leave. Then on Monday morning the whole of the village were standing on the beach crying as we said our goodbyes. It meant so much to me seeing all the kids, women and even the men crying because they didn’t want us to go. All the team were exactly the same, crying as we sailed away from Uluibau.

Our last 10 days in Fiji were spent at Pacific Harbour, Beach House and Smugglers Cove. I did plenty of sunbathing, eating and chilling out with the team, white water rafting, horse riding on the beach and a 14,000 feet skydive.

It was an awesome end to honestly my favourite 10 weeks ever. I’ll never forget my time in Fiji and the people I’ve met.

To the leaders- you were awesome, thank you.

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It was incredible and just about the most memorable thing I may ever do. I cannot thank you and Harry enough. The work we did was just unbelievable.
Scott Hooker, London
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