Fiji Islands Discovered

Season’s Report 2017-2018

A massive THANK YOU for joining us in Fiji this summer and a special thank you to Dave, Megan, Sierra and Ronnie who have been a fantastic team to lead our volunteers over the 2017 and 2018 season. 

You may enjoy reading about not only your own group’s achievements but those who came before and after. This will give a better picture of the scope of assistance we can give to the local community with your help!

The work will recommence in May of this year when our first group of volunteers from Canada and the USA arrive to carry on with these vital projects.

Group 1 

Kuku VillageKuku District School

Kuku was an incredible village, they welcomed us with a beautiful Sevu Sevu and on our last night, a Tatau (closing ceremony for people who had entered the village and were now leaving). The village boys preforming the Kava mixing for the Tatau were dressed in palm tree leaves with coal streaks drawn across their bodies, looking like true warriors. This whole time an elder was explaining the process of how their ancestors had performed this act so that the volunteers could understand what was happening before their eyes. After the Tatau, these local boys also did a Fijian war dance as well as a variety of Meke’s both which were vibrant and exciting! It was a great way to close our stay in Kuku Village. 

Kuku really showed how much they cared as when the we were about to leave the hall for the bus, the entire village sang Isa Lei (their farewell song). It’s safe to say there were a few tears shed but it just goes to shows in only a weeks’ time people from completely different walks of life can form such heartfelt connections.

Construction work

All the volunteers were keen to work hard every day on the construction site. 

Lots of the volunteers got really into the construction of the walkway. and even though it was physically hard and demanding because of the heat, they found it extremely rewarding.

  • Painted entire school exterior along with metal poles on the veranda of the school and the walkway to the bathroom block. We also painted 6 classrooms, the library and bathroom block.
  • The VESA logo, school logo and bathroom murals.
  • Extended the current walkway 30 metres to reach across the front of the school.
  • Built a water tank stand for a 5300 litre tank as well as repaired the tank itself to make it functional.
  • Created a compost.
  • Replaced any rusted out or broken guttering and ceiling boards
  • Fixed any broken blackboards and freshened them up with some blackboard paint.

Education

After learning how to say “what’s up?/ how are you?” in Fijian (vaka cava tiko) from one of the kids on one of the first days Sierra ended up saying “oh my gosh…. vaka cava tiko” and then decided we could turn it into a song. So with the sound of the sandpaper on the school wall making a rhythm, and a group of kids singing this song and chanting and making more beats, we created a song that every kid in the village knew by the end of the week and sang constantly. We couldn’t walk through the village without a kid yelling out and singing our new simple song. There was one little girl in particular who never spoke a word… and finally one day she came up and whispered softly… “oh my  gosh… vaka cava tiko.” It was so cute and such a great time with the village kids.

The group did three days of education (tried to do 4 but the kids were on summer holidays)

  • On the first day volunteers broke into groups to teach the kids about basic human anatomy, world geography (continents and animals and facts about each), and proper dental hygiene (gave toothbrushes and toothbrushes as prizes)
  • The volunteers broke into groups to teach the kids about proper hand and other sanitary measures, careers and how to achieve them, and the importance of exercise and
  • heathy eating, and which common muscles are used in certain movements 
  • We did a scavenger hunt around the village, using riddles to make the kids think and solve the question of where to go next. This went over really well with the kids and they loved it.

Group 2

Natoaika Village
Natoaika Village School

This was a very big school and the volunteers had quite a task ahead. They got stuck into it straight away working hard at sanding the buildings especially in the heat. One night in the village hall the locals set up some microphones and they plugged in their aux cord and everyone got up and started singing and dancing to ‘Land down Under’ in typical Aussie form. The local villagers enjoyed it enormously. 

One of the volunteers Chelsea brought with her a whole suitcase which was dedicated to school supplies for Natoaika Village school which was amazing.

On the islands Ronny taught the guys the ‘Cibi’ and they all wore grass skirts and did it in the sea on Korovou which was a great performance.

Construction

The school had seven classrooms - one big building and two small buildings with one-bathroom block. We’re pretty sure the volunteers in this group will never want to see another staple or pin tack in their life because the school had about 3,000 staples in the ceiling and walls that we needed to remove before painting.

  • Repainted all blackboards
  • Painted two massive walkways and metal poles along the walkways
  • Painted school, VESA, and bathroom murals
  • Replaced all broken ceiling boards
  • Built a water tank base for a 3100L water tank
  • Installed two 3100L water tanks one of which was to give the bathroom running water
  • Replaced any rotted out or broken guttering
  • Replaced broken louvre blades or louver blade casingsInstalled a new compost and incinerator

Education

A volunteer brought materials for the kids to make bracelets and they absolutely LOVED it. Some kids took the lead and started teaching the younger kids how to do it as well. It was so sweet to see the kids having so much fun while learning a new skill, and to see 40+ kids wearing their new bracelets that they made around the village throughout the week. The same volunteer also brought little bags with craft/colouring material for the kids to keep and they were simply overjoyed. So many of the kids walked around always carrying their craft bags on their back. What a rewarding feeling.

Four days of education (summer holidays)

  • On day one we had three groups of volunteers/kids, each with different lesson plans. We covered proper teeth care (with toothbrushes and toothpaste given out as prizes), bracelet making (the head teacher wanted us to incorporate art into our lessons because during summer holidays the kids have no access to art supplies), and geography (including different animals)
  • On day two - English (verbs, adverbs, punctuation), Fijian climate vs Australian climate and animals, eating healthy foods (with the food pyramid) and occupations
  • On day three we taught the kids about respect (home, school and self) and goals, drugs (illegal vs legal and the effects), crafts and proper hygiene.
  • On day four we did lessons on the environment (littering and the ocean specifically), sports and physical activity (tying in healthy eating, exams and sufficient sleep) and math (counting games, addition/subtraction games)

The crafts went over really well with the kids and kept them really engaged, will definitely try and incorporate crafts in our lesson plans more often. The respect lesson was surprisingly successful, and the kids were really engaged… it is a topic that would be really useful for them in their everyday life

Group 3

Veivatuloa Village
Veivatuloa Village School

This is a beautiful village in the mountains of Namosi which also had an amazing sea view. The villagers were very welcoming, and it was a known rugby village. One of the villager’s sons played for the All blacks in New Zealand and also for the Lions. 

One day after work at Veivatuloa School we organised a waterfall trip for the volunteers They were all jumping off a cliff into water and thoroughly enjoyed the cool down after a long hard day of work. After the waterfall, ‘Fiji Time’ kicked in as it usually does in this amazing country and our transfer was an hour late, during which time it started pouring down with rain. Volunteers took this in their stride and it became a funny story throughout the programme. In the village due to the fact it was still festive season there was lots of Kava parties in the evenings which the volunteers attended and were dancing champions.

The group had a few rainy days on the islands and a crazy boat ride out to Nabua filled will big swells and a few uneasy tummies to start their Yasawa experience, but they did such a good job at keeping up their spirits and not letting the weather bring them down. As the week went on the weather did a complete 180 and before you know it the volunteers were basking in the sun, laying in hammocks or participating in the different activities that each island had to offer. 

Construction

This group powered through the volunteer week and did a wonderful job at Veivatuloa Village school. With the help of Filipe, the volunteers dug out a trough for piping that would create a bypass system. What that means is that the village would have increased water pressure and direct access to the reservoir in which the water was being held. 

  • Exterior of one school building
  • Exterior of bathroom block
  • Interior of 4 classroom
  • Interior of library 
  • Installed a bypass system to villages water supply allowing     better water availability and water pressure in the village
  • Installed bathroom murals
  • Painted both wooden and metal poles at the school

Education

We decided to do physical education and the Australian volunteers taught the kids all different games that they play back in Australia. The kids loved learning the new games, and they all wanted to teach the rest of their friends. It was such a nice feeling to see them catching on and having so much fun. They were always SO excited for lesson plans… but when they heard we were going to play sports they were jumping as high as they could and screaming with excitement. A lovely group of kids and the volunteers did a great job with both lesson plans and sports.

  • Maths (counting and number games addition/subtraction/multiplication cards, buzz, etc.); geography (Australian and Fijian animals, flash cards, using the globe and map, drawing); and hygiene (germs, importance of hand washing, teeth brushing/hygiene with toothbrushes/toothpaste as prizes, drawing hands with germs)
  • About exercise healthy eating and geography
  • physical education/sport day where the Australians taught the Fijian kids how to play some classic Australian sports!
We always love to include proper hygiene, handwashing, teeth brushing and geography in the lesson plans because they are such important topics and they go over really well with Fijian kids since they don’t learn much about these topics. We keep it interactive so they learn and retain some things we teach them ☺ . Healthy eating and physical activity are also very important so I’m glad we did some lessons on that as well!

Group 4

Nakavu Village
Nakavu Village School

We can’t thank the volunteers enough for putting every single bit of energy into getting Nakavu school completed.! This group of only 25 people was able to complete a school that consisted of 3 buildings, a bathroom block, water tank installation, construction of a compost and more – the way that they were able to get it all done with time to spare really shows how hard working this group really was. After a tough week in the village the group definitely took advantage of the both the relaxing and adventurous opportunities on the island from laying in a hammock having a sun kissed nap to snorkelling along incredible Coral Gardens. Safe to say Group 4 sure seemed to have a great time!

  • Painted 2 Building exteriors
  • Interior of 3 medium sized classrooms and 1 large classroom
  • Exterior of the Kindergarten
  • Exterior of the Bathroom block
  • Approximately 100 metal poles
  • Repaired the roof of an existing incinerator
  • Constructed a new compost
  • Repaired two pre-existing water tanks and guttering
  • Installed a 3100L water tank for the Kindergarten
  • Painted beautiful bathroom, VESA and School murals

During the village week we had the VESA talent show and one of the highlights was the local beauty pageant, led by Ronny, Felipe and Dave, where the village men dressed up as women. The atmosphere in the village hall was electric and everyone found it hilarious! The volunteers loved an afternoon visit to the river to cool off after a hard day at work. On the last night at the hall we say our thank yous to the home stay families and all the volunteers expressed their gratitude beautifully which was great to see that they had a great village week.

Thank you so much to contributing to a great season of work. You can check out our other countries here.  All past VESA volunteers will receive a discount on future programs so why don’t you join us in Africa, Laos or the Amazon next summer and continue the dream.