Past volunteers

Volunteer stories: Joe Lawrence

Joe Lawrence

There is one word to describe my first week in Fiji and that is…

Okay, so to describe my first week in one word would be virtually impossible. Moturiki is one of those few places that you can only truly understand if you have been here. I had heard about the warmth and generosity of the Fijian people before I came out here and at the time I thought that this was perhaps a slight exaggeration. It definitely was not. Arriving in Niubasaga was a bit daunting at first, but everyone in the village has been so welcoming and generous that I find it hard to believe we have only been here for one week! Me and my new “Taithingu” (brother), James already feel like we are part of the family, which is an achievement in itself as we are living with the largest family in the village! When we first arrived it felt like nearly everyone in the village was our “taithingu” or “tavali” (cousin).
The team dynamic is great. We all seemed to click immediately after our first day on the picture perfect castaway island, Caqalai. Since then we have become even closer thanks to the fun and interesting games introduced by the team leaders – even if things did become slightly competitive during our rounders match today!

My daily routine so far has consisted of getting up at about 7am, having breakfast with my family, working on the build until lunch time and then heading over to the school for sports coaching in the afternoon. One thing I have discovered about Moturiki is that the kids here are mad – but in a good way. I’ve never known children to be so full of energy and enthusiastic about everything. The evening consists of sitting down to dinner, which is always delicious (last night we had fresh crab), whilst listening to our three brothers sing and play the guitar. If there’s one thing I particularly love about the Fijian culture it’s their love of music. Me and James always joke about our house being the Party House because after dinner everybody comes around for songs and “Hop Hop”. One of the highlights of the week has to be last night when during our usual sing-song session everybody spontaneously sprang into “We Will Rock You”, clapping and thumping our hands on the floor. The Fijians loved it. I’ve given my family a set of drum sticks which have been very popular and are often used during the songs.
Up until today Niubasaga has been in “Tamboo”, a religious tradition whereby the villagers are unable to drink their favourite drink – “Kava” or “Grog”. I was first introduced to Kava on Caqalai. 20 bowls later I remember wandering back to bed feeling very lethargic and happy about everything. This weekend the Tamboo in Niubasaga has finished so it’s fair to say that everyone in the village is looking forward to the “hop hop” tonight – myself included.
I can’t wait for the next few weeks. Teaching in the school is something I’m particularly looking forward to.  I’m also hopefully spending a few days in the Kindi classes. Although if the rest of the kids are anything like the ones in Niubasaga, it will probably be the most tiring part of the whole project! Bring it on.

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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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