Care in Fiji by Ellie Sabourin
Have you ever thought to yourself: “I need to remember how I feel in this moment forever?”
On December 28th I got on a plane with a friend of mine, Julia. We endured a gruelling two days, during which we took three flights with a total of eighteen hours up in the air from Ottawa, Canada all the way to Nadi, Fiji. When we arrived at our destination, we were greeted at the airport by Oripa, the Project Abroad coordinator.
Fiji is a beautiful place filled with genuine, kind-hearted people, and breath taking sceneries. We spent the majority of our three-week stay on the mainland called Viti Levu. Our accommodation was with a wonderful host family living in Waqadra, Nadi.
Waqadra is in perfect walking distance to the Nadi Airport School, where we volunteered for five hours a day, and is only a short bus ride to Nadi Town. Our host family did an exceptional job in making us feel at home. Our host mother, Shabreen, let us help out in the kitchen, teaching us how to make traditional Fijian meals, and we enjoyed kava (the traditional drink of Fiji) with our host father, Tufel.
Our Care Project
The Nadi Airport School is a little blue school in the Namaka district. The school is filled with young, bright, children with very large ambitions and the willingness to learn. The children enjoyed maths and learning about Geography and other cultures the most. That is when they weren’t begging us to take them outside to place Capture the Flag, a game that involves lots of running under the scorching tropical sun.
We worked alongside sixteen other volunteers from all over the world. Between getting to know the locals and the other volunteers my stay in Fiji was an amazing learning experience for me.
The other volunteers and I worked together to put together lesson plans and run the school during the mornings from 8am to noon. After classes, we would play sports for a few hours and then we would walk home for lunch and then do whatever the daily plan was, which usually included a swim somewhere and a coffee.
Living in Fiji
Nadi Town is beautiful. There are the essentials: food, supermarkets, drug stores, clothing stores, bus stops. This is in addition to a few amazing places such as the Nadi Handicraft Market. The market was one of my favourite after noon activities. Other favourites were Bulacino, and Gloria Jean’s Cafe.
While my main focus was to volunteer in Fiji, I did get some much deserved time at the beach. On our first weekend, we went to Beachcomber Island - a Fiji must! The island is about a 30 minute boat ride from the mainland. You are able to walk around the island in a total of ten minutes, but it was perfect. The water is this amazing shade of blue that I had never seen in my life.
After my first tropical burn at Beachcomber, we went to “The Beachouse" a small backpackers resort off the Coral Coast. Although it wasn’t its own miniature island, it was perfect. My favourite part was the palm tree swing! These trips were perfect little getaways during the weekends, when volunteers are not at their placements. All of our trips were coordinated through the office, and we generally travelled in a group. It was also a great way to get to know the other volunteers on the trip.
Overall, my stay in Fiji was not only fulfilling and meaningful, but it taught me a lot about myself and other cultures around the world. I will always remember what it was like to walk up to the school every morning and have all the children run up and greet me with huge smiles and enthusiasm to learn every day.