Care in Fiji by Adele Perry
I read about Projects Abroad in the Westworld Magazine. After reading about the projects and experiences that they offered, I decided to add it to my bucket list of things to do one day. I could not believe the vast amount of projects they offered all over the world, and the fact that Projects Abroad was one of the most respected organisations in its industry made it easy to make my decision to travel with them.
Fast forward to two years and the time was finally right for me to embark on a journey I so eagerly wanted to experience. After doing some research, I decided to sign up on a Care project in Fiji - I knew I wanted to work with children. This was my first trip alone, so yes, I was overwhelmed and very nervous, but also very excited! It was an amazing opportunity and I wanted to be a part of it.
My host family
Arriving in Fiji was surreal – what a beautiful place! It was 7:30am when I arrived, but I was shortly taken to my host family where I would live for the duration of my stay. My host family, Pastor Jack, Aseneca and their family were really nice. Their house was quite busy when I arrived, as their three daughters and one son was busy getting ready for school - backpacks, lunches, hugs, kisses and out the door they were… It felt like I was at home!
Aseneca and I were kindred spirits right away. She made a joke about how I was sent "just for her.” She has hosted more than twenty volunteers at her home thus far, all between the ages of 17 and 25 years old. On this occasion she was glad to have someone to connect with as a friend and mother and it felt as if I had four children of my own. We had many wonderful discussions about life and culture. I was lucky to have lived with such a lovely family; I felt very comfortable and at home.
My Project in Fiji
I was placed at Namaka Methodist Kindergarten. I was paired up with a terrific, outgoing young lady named, Chiara from Italy. Chiara spoke English very well and it was such a pleasure to get to know such a beautiful girl on the inside and outside.
The kindergarten classroom was very spacious, with many tables and a carpet area for singing/devotions, story time and play time. The teacher Ms. Donu was friendly, kind and welcoming. She has been a teacher at Methodist Kindergarten for 27 years. She knows all the children and their family.
Ms. Donu is such an amazing ambassador for the Namaka community. The children were very curious and open to learning. I have very blonde curly hair and green eyes, so they found that very different and interesting. They asked me questions like "do all the people in your country look like you?" With my face in their little hands, you can't help but smile and hug them. They were so sweet, gentle and filled with wonder.
I was surprised at how many “bible songs” and nursery rhymes we had in common. They would sing in English and repeat it in Fijian, which I loved! My three weeks at the school, with all the amazing children and terrific teachers was an absolute pleasure and outstanding experience.
My final day at Namaka Methodist Kindergarten was very special. They had a wonderful surprise for me! I was given a lei of flowers to wear around my neck from the parent council; it meant "a new Fijian to return one day." I was very humbled and appreciative of their kindness. I will remember all the special moments we had and I have taken lots of pictures to make sure that I will remember my experience for a very long time; they are engraved onto my heart.
My overall experience
The Projects Abroad volunteers are so incredible, welcoming and genuine – the most amazing group of people one could ever meet. The average age of the volunteers was between 17 to 25 years old.
Me being the oldest volunteer, in my mid-fifties, I never felt uncomfortable as they made me feel part of the group and treated me well. They will forever remain special to me and I hope that one day we will get to meet again. The thing I found most amazing was the fact that all the volunteers travelled alone to volunteer their time in Fiji. They all wanted to do something good and meaningful.
Projects Abroad staff would ensure that we had weekly gatherings as many volunteers came and went and this was the perfect opportunity to meet other people from different countries and backgrounds. We also had some time to gather once a week. I met so many positive, cool fun-loving people from around the world!
Projects Abroad staff
Projects Abroad’s office is situated in Martinar. The office was a great place to meet other volunteers too. It was great that we were allowed to use the internet to communicate with our families abroad and let them know of the activities we took part in.
The staff were awesome- very caring, organised and helpful. I would definitely recommend Fiji as a destination choice for anyone, to have an amazing volunteer experience. Projects Abroad is a good organisation that is trust worthy and benefits the local community.
Lastly, I would like to send a big hug and a hardy bula to Karishma, Meme, Aimee and Sarah.