Past volunteers

Volunteer stories: Greg Dawes


Greg

Bula! Week 4 into my think Pacific adventure and it’s a Sunday! The rest day in Fijian’s culture which gives you time to just sit back and relax. It’s become a bit of a habit to spend most of my Sundays just thinking about the experience I’m having and realising how fortunate I am to be here. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it’s been. The feeling I get when I wake up every morning and realise that I’m still here in Fiji is pretty incredible. If I wasn’t half asleep, it would definitely put a smile on my face. With the project stage of the expedition finished, I am sad to say the next week in Niubasaga village will be our last.

Over the past few weeks I have been participating in the build, teaching children in Kindi and sport coaching. They were hard and tiring at times, but I’m so pleased I’ve had the opportunity to do them. It’s a very rewarding feeling knowing that you’ve contributed to the building and the education of a Fijian community.

Life is a lot different here to life England. The main things I would say it takes time to get used to are the weather, hygiene, food and mosquitoes.  For me the weather has been really nice, with most days being sunny and hot with heavy rain at night. The heat can be a problem on long walks so it’s important to drink lots of water. The sanitation is actually better than I was expecting, but it still takes time to adjust to cold bucket showers and simple toilets. Food is a lot more varied than I was expecting and you are always well fed here. Our family cooks us a wide range of Fijian and western food here and have had the experience of several Lovos – a Fijian banquet. We eat on a mat on the floor, so you have to get used to crossing your legs. As for the mosquitoes, I would advise anyone planning to visit Fiji to bring lots of repellent.

The activities we have done as a group have brought a lot of fun and entertainment. We do something every night and couldn’t be in a better environment to do them. Movie nights, quizzes, card games, volleyball matches, snorkelling, jungle treks, meke dancing (a traditional Fijian dance representing local stories and legends), drinking kava (a Fijian ceremonial drinking), ‘hop-hop’ dancing, making baskets and mats are just a minority of things we have taken part in.

The term ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ is well worth mentioning here. Despite the huge amount of activities we have managed to fit into the past few weeks the time has gone by so quickly.  Nevertheless, the time I have spent in the village of Niubasaga will never be forgotten. It’s the people I’ve met that have had the biggest impact on me and on my experience. The Fijians are even friendlier than I expected, have a brilliant sense of humour and are always polite and welcoming. The family I am staying with treat me like I’m their real son and I couldn’t ask for nicer teammates.

My Think Pacific experience so far has definitely been the highlight of my gap year.  I’m looking forward to the last week ahead andI  hope there won’t be too many tears when we leave the village and start the final adventure stage!

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I had the absolute time of my life with Think Pacific. Everything was just so far beyond what I could have asked for, or expected.
Alex Jenkinson, Belfast
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