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A massive THANK YOU for joining us in this beautiful country this summer. We know it’s not always easy to find the time and raise the funds.
Please enjoy reading about your groups’ achievements as this will give a more complete picture of the vast amount of assistance that you’ve given to the local community through your generosity.
And a special thank you to Tom, Megan, Tash and Luke who have been a fantastic team to lead our volunteers in 2018.
With a lot of work to complete at the school, no volunteer ever complained and every single one worked extremely hard to complete the four buildings and construction assignments. In the famous words of Meg, ‘you guys absolutely smashed it!’
From Vitogo, the volunteers visited the Milk and Honey river on their day off where they celebrated the birthdays of Brittni and Killian. The following day we celebrated Terri’s birthday – it was great to see that we could make these birthdays as special as possible. The nights at the village hall saw everyone getting involved in brain puzzling games, which would then be the cause of humorous frustration the next day at the school.
The week of the island tour saw almost every single volunteer fall victim to dabbing. Everyone soon became familiar with Luke’s swimming abilities…or lack thereof, whilst Meg became a human floatation device helping people swim throughout the caves.
This week we refurbished and painted year 1,2 &3 classrooms as well as built an incinerator and water catchment base. We were really proud of the group’s work, the effort they gave and the impact they made in the community. Despite having a small group, we accomplished all that we set out for with eagerness and a smile.
This week on education we focussed on one-on-one tutoring with students who were behind or struggling a bit. This was primarily in the area of mathematics, specifically algebra and measurement. We could see significant changes in the way students approached problem-solving questions throughout the week, and the teach Master Tev was very pleased with the progress and overall behaviour of the students, who were originally shy and reserved at the beginning of the week but opened up gradually.
We also spent the first half day doing activities in physical education (stretching and then discussing what muscles were being used) as well as poetry and wordplay.
Despite a slow start on construction, the volunteer team put their heads down and worked extremely hard in the days to follow and exceeded our initial expectations.The Sunday after church saw us visiting the Milk and Honey river again, where we celebrated Andrea’s birthday and multiple volunteers impressed us with their diving talents.
Though it was a difficult week with sickness, everyone maintained a positive and supportive attitude and absolutely smashed out the work at the school.
During the island week, all the volunteers were extremely caring, patient, understanding and supportive the entire week. All activities went ahead as planned despite the rough weather, and one lucky group of manta ray snorkelers saw 3 manta rays and a reef shark. Beachcomber saw the return of Meg and Tom, and that night the group came together as a family to celebrate the last night together. It was so nice to feel so united with the group and the support each and every single individual provided to each other
The volunteers successfully completed the ground floor level of Vitogo Village School. In this group on construction we completed the following;
Due to the volunteers refurbishing the classrooms on the bottom section of the school building, all the year levels were squeezed into small rooms on the top floor and the teachers preferred to have movie days rather than implementing lesson plans. Despite this we were still able to get into the classrooms for the kindergarten children and grades 1, 2 and 3. The volunteers showed great patience and handled the lessons really well. We were able to get the grades 6, 7 and 8 outside for the last day and organised a scavenger hunt where students would walk to different landmarks around the village and solve riddles and clues leading them to the next stage with prizes at the end which kept everybody extra motivated. We also engaged in physical education on one day where we would stretch relevant muscle groups which were being used and discussed the importance of keeping active. Duck-duck goose was the highlight of the day, with the entire senior student faculty standing on the second floor of the school cheering on the junior years chasing each other around the circle.
In the space of five working days we managed to revitalize the school hall upstairs, library, computer room, office, as well as the entire back wall and finishing touches on all the buildings we’ve progressed on since beginning there almost two months ago! We also completed the water tank stand thanks to the tireless efforts of Kai, Levi, Harrison and even Kade, who later went home and died for 24 hours before resurrecting to join us again. To revamp and construct all of this creates an inviting environment for the students and the community and you did it with a whole lot of sand paper, tape, fresh paint, cement, timber, sand and a ton of hard work.
As a massive thank you for the group’s hard work, we organised a trip to the creek where people enjoyed swinging from tree ropes and swimming around and during the village week we were able to celebrate Hannah’s birthday, making it a special one for her to remember. The volunteers also really enjoyed the village talent show with their host families. Yazzi, Jena, Farrah and Anthony did an amazing beat boxing and guitar playing remix of a song their host families taught them which was beautiful.
The final goodbye ceremony was the most heartfelt and warming one yet, with many emotional goodbyes.
The island week saw everyone getting involved and having loads of fun with all the activities organised.
Group 3 were the final group to be visiting Vitogo village and were therefore responsible for finishing off the school and making sure the final product was perfect. It was all hands-on deck and the group maintained a strong positive attitude to work all week despite the endless chiselling that needed to be done – everyone has left Fiji as master pole chisellers. Not only for us, but for the group to be able to see the school in its final state filled every single person with a massive sense of fulfillment and pride and seeing the villagers’ reactions made every drop of sweat beyond worth it.
Projects completed during the final visit to Vitogo:
We began the week in Miss Shalini’s Grade 6 class while she was absent taking her exams, and this gave us a lot of freedom to implement whatever lesson plans the volunteers were passionate about.
We focussed on nutrition, primarily what foods and nutrients were required to maintain a balanced diet, and which foods contained high levels of sugar and sodium which should be avoided, especially as these were the foods most consumed by the children in the village.
We also focussed on mathematics, primarily fractions and percentages and played games and activities where students had to draw objects or identify amounts of money and calculate them into percentages and fractions. This was awesome because you could see the students develop their understanding of the topics immediately and progressively throughout the day. For the rest of the week we covered English, anatomy, sciences, recycling and made sure to incorporate games and sports sessions to break up the lessons a bit.
Developed a deeper knowledge of:
During the village week the volunteers worked really hard and no one struggled with sickness which was a great improvement!
On Sunday the volunteers deserved a relax and we took them to the local mud pools in Nadi which they all completely loved and had fun covering themselves and each other in mud! They then went in all the different natural hot springs to wash the mud of and make their skin feel nice and soft. On the farewell ceremony in the village the village made a traditional Lovo feast which everyone got to see being prepared!
One of our volunteers, Paul, got accepted as the chief and was always welcomed to sit beside the chief every time we were in the village hall drinking Kava, he was then called Chief Paul for the rest of the two weeks
Projects completed during the final visit to Vitogo:
Group four successfully refurbished the entire year 1, 2 & 3 building. This included five separate classrooms. This was a big undertaking for a small group of only 23 volunteers.
The volunteers pulled together and worked late on two days without any negativity despite working in intense heat while painting the back of the school and sweating their brains out.
This week on Education exceeded all expectations. When we approached the headmaster Mr Kumar asking what would best suit the teachers and students in terms of volunteers helping in class, he told me that each teacher would be thrilled to have some assistance and that the more classrooms we could visit the better.
Because of this, each day we were able to go into a new year level and either create our own lesson plans or judging by how confident the volunteers were in their own knowledge of the curriculum content, assist with the coursework the students were already working on.
To top off the week we visited the grade 1 classes and donated toothbrushes to each student which the volunteers had brought from home.
We had a lesson in dental hygiene and tutorial on how to properly brush your teeth.
Island week brought many more laughs and great experiences, including almost every member of the group seeing a MASSIVE manta ray – personally one of the best experiences of my life. Everyone also really enjoyed the caves, with most people attempting to scale the sides to jump off the rocks.
These volunteers used the most paint and cried the most tears. The fact that they were in the most remote village of the season gave them the most authentic Fiji experience of NH 2018. Most volunteers would be getting up and having a boogie with their host families at the kava parties in the evening. The women in the village would always pick Bruce (a volunteer) because he had such great dance moves! One of our volunteers Chris could do some card tricks and would fascinate 10’s of Fijians every night with his magical abilities. The talent show was such a success and all the villagers came out to watch that afterwards the boys in the village wanted to participate in a dance off with the volunteers, it was full of laughs and amazing dance moves.
Projects worked on:
Unfortunately only one construction project was totally completed due to the extreme difficulty getting the materials delivered to the village (a bad case of ‘Fiji Time’).
The following groups will work towards completing the 1-3 building, 4-6 building and the 7-8 building as well as finishing the library and kindergarten.
During the education week, both the students and volunteers gained a lot from the experience.
We had some unique and amazing lesson plans created by some volunteers. With so many coming from Ireland, we had lessons every day about Irish geography, history and Gaelic language. Because we were able to continue with a theme each day, the students showed a lot of enthusiasm in learning more about Ireland.
Sarah and Nicole took mindfulness classes, in which they had all the students in the classroom close their eyes, focus on their breathing, and meditate. In my experience I’ve never seen any children (let alone crazy Fijian kids) stay so still and focus on the teacher so much. It was an awesome lesson and the volunteers were blown away too.
On the Island week one of our volunteers Alex couldn’t swim and she was very nervous to do a couple of the activities. During Blue Lagoon Luke helped her to see all the beautiful coral and fish.
Following that we went to the Manta Ray passage and put her in a lifejacket and with a bit of persuasion she built up the courage to get in and ended up seeing 5 Manta-rays and a reef shark, we were all so proud of her!
These volunteers were the second group to visit this village and school. During the week they completed the interior of the boarding school dorms, providing the children who stay there during the week a much cleaner, appealing, and fun environment to live in. Each volunteer who worked on this project understood the importance and significance of refurbishing this building and took nothing but pride in their work and I am extremely grateful for that.
The week of education was fantastic, and despite not having as many people interested in coming into the classrooms each day, the students and volunteers all enjoyed their time immensely.
Our first day on began with Matt, a third-year education student from Scotland, wanting to teach students about geography which is a huge passion of his, specifically volcanoes. He had bought a 2 litres bottle of coke and a pack of Mentos and after spending half an hour with the grade 5 and 6 class and the 7 and 8 class, he gathered everybody into the schoolyard and mixed the two resulting in an explosion of coke and foam everywhere. It didn’t quite go according to plan but the entire school and teachers absolutely loved it.
Island week began with a few competitive games of volleyball, from which we learnt that Conor can only aim for trees or poles, the only benefit I bring to a team is a solid serve, and that Tom should be disqualified for being too tall.
Our trip to the caves saw almost every volunteer head into the dark, closed cave despite a range of fears, my favourite of which being the two ENORMOUS spiders sitting above the cave entrance almost preventing Georgina from going in. To both her gratitude and my relief, we were able to get her through the caves without looking at them so she didn’t miss out on the experience.
The trip to Blue Lagoon was one the second group will not ever forget. I mean, not only did they absolutely adore the beauty of snorkelling amongst the diversity of fish Blue Lagoon has to offer, but the boat ride back gave us something really special….”DOLPHINS!!!!”
We were so incredibly lucky to see 7-8 dolphins swimming and diving around our boat as we cruised around back – something that we all bragged about for days to come
Due to the fact we had a small group of volunteers we had a big task on our hands, lucky for us we had some very determined and hard workers in this group. All the days at the construction site everyone gave their best and made sure all the jobs they were allocated were completed in the period of time they were given!
On Construction this week we completed;