Bula Fiji!

After a couple hours sleep awoke at 8:40, clambered out of bed and quickly headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast so we would be on time for the mini bus at 9:15. We had come to Fiji to be part of a Uniting Church group (most retired) who would be volunteering and working with local villagers in the village of Nawaka, not far from Nadi town. However the bus was late so we needn’t have rushed. That’s Fiji time we were told! Finally it came to collect the first half of our group. We waited and chatted as we were in the second part of the group. Once we arrived in Nawaka we joined with the rest of our group and many locals on the verandah of the local minister’s house, surrounded by an attractive garden.

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The locals sat on the matting but luckily for us there were chairs. A formal greeting ceremony, in Fijian, commenced. Rev Eseta gave us a brief account in English. Then an invitation to take part in a kava ceremony was issued. The men of the local tribe poured sachets of powder into a ceremonial bowl and added water. Much mixing followed. One of the men served the local minister first. Slow hand claps followed. Next Rev Chris was served. The kava is drunk in one go, sipping is not permitted. Next the other local men were served. At that stage the Nawaka minister issued a general invitation saying that if you wished to take part clap once when the bowl was offered, if you didn’t just put up your hand to indicate no thanks. He did emphasise it was a choice. The first one from our group was Karen who indicated no thanks so even though I was next to her the man serving went to the row behind next to where someone had clapped. He continued along that row and never came back to me. Comments were mixed so I was a bit ambivalent as to whether I should have tried kava or not. Next we had a welcome prayer in Fijian which Rev Eseta explained to the visiting group. A delicious, colourful and bountiful morning tea followed. Tea, coffee, juice, water to drink, tropical fruits – paw paw, banana, watermelon and pineapple – as well as cake to eat.

imageOnce finished we split into our groups. The work group drove off in a Hilux to the Nawajikuma church. The craft ladies sat in a large room in the minister’s house and our craft ladies commenced showing the local village ladies how to knit.

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As Karen was feeling unwell from sleep deprivation she ended up taking a rest in a bedroom while our group walked down the gravel road back to the Nawaka school back on the main road. It was after noon so the kids were in the yard playing. Our arrival was noticed, with excitement and ‘high fives’, as we made our way to the office. The assistant principal met us and chatted about ways we could be involved during the afternoon sessions. We would work in pairs in the year 1-4s one day and alternatively the year 5-8s over a four day program, not including the weekend and to commence the following day. We walked back to the village for a nice lunch of rice and vegetable curry cooked by the local women. We sat around looking at teaching resources and books we had brought with us working on ideas for our lessons.

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Meanwhile our craft ladies were working with the local village women instructing them on sewing machines, four we had bought for the village and they already had five other machines. So there was lots of sewing action happening!

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Later in the afternoon the mini bus returned. By this time I was feeling really tired. Luckily Karen and I both returned to the hotel in the first group where we took a much needed sleep for a few hours. We awoke to the sound of others in our group discussing dinner. We spruced ourselves up and joined eight others for dinner at a local restaurant where we shared rice and noodle dishes for dinner. On our return to our room we chatted with Greg and Glenda, the couple we were sharing the apartment with. I took a late shower to cool down and we headed off to bed just after 22:00. It had been a tiring, but interesting day!

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