Past volunteers

Volunteer stories: Jamie Knowles

Jamie Knowles

Today is Sunday which is Sabbath, a day of rest for the people of Niubasaga however it hardly feels that way as the whole island of moturiki have come for a church service. After being in this village for nearly half of the expedition you sink into the tranquil and easy going lifestyle of the villagers.

It is a strange feeling flying half way across the world and walking into a new home for the next 4 weeks and feeling as you are at home after 2 or 3 nights. That feeling is all down to my family here who are amazing they would do just about anything for me and I am starting to feel the same way about them. They are nothing like I expected I have done nothing but eat and laugh while being with them! The food here is also amazing for the first two weeks I had something different every time we ate and there was not one thing I did not like apart from the chillies they still offer me at every sitting and still find it hilarious when I say no thank you.

The project we have been building for the last two weeks has been amazing. Looking at it now I cannot believe that I actually helped make it because I did not know the first thing about how a building actually goes up but it has been very easy going and great fun. It really has been a great experience and have learnt a great deal. The local lads usually come over at some point in the day to help but usually stop work by winding us up. However I would have it no other way as the simple banter make the days fly by. My biggest regret is not writing a journal as it is the little thing from day to day that really make the trip what it is and also they are the things that are always forgotten.

After the day on the build we walk over to the school where others in the group spend the day teaching. Sport is supposed to start at 3 which is when we arrive but on a number of occasions it has not begun until half past. At the moment I am coaching rugby and I believe if Fiji competed in junior rugby matches no other nation would come close. I remember putting one of the youngest classes into a game and was astounded to see some of the best tackles in my life. It really is great fun and it needs to be as the walk to and from Niubasaga is hard work. After the sport there is always a touch game of rugby for the locals and we have played a few times. I remember the first game we had started of four a side the next thing you know there are 10 people per side and you simply have no idea where they have all come from. Even locals from the village where we are staying walk all the way just to play for an hour or so but it is a great laugh. Fijian people find most things absolutely hilarious and all of there laughs are completely infectious. On Wednesday I played rugby for Niubasaga against Navuti which was a great experience and am looking forward tom playing again next week.

At the moment there is a tabu on the local drink which is called kava. Last weekend this tabu ended for 3 days. This is truly amazing as the whole village comes together each night in a ceremonial but very social kind of way and play music. This is definitely one of my favourite times as there is no way of explaining how much fun it is and how well they can sing and play the guitar. After one or two songs they will then hand bowls of kava out to everyone which after 7 or 8 you can see why they laugh at everything because that is the way kava makes you feel. Then they all will get up and dance which is called hop hop. This again is a crazy experience and shows how amazing every little community in Fiji is.

I am sure the rest will only get better and it will be hard to leave but I am sure I will return one day and knowing that I have a second family on the other side of the world is truly priceless.

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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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