A graduate from Northampton has recently returned from an eight week working as a volunteer in Fiji.
Chris Church, aged 24, spent eight weeks working for a company called Projects Abroad.
The following is his diary about his time and experiences in the Melanesian island.
“I was stationed in Nadi, the third largest conurbation in Fiji; on the western side of the main island Viti Levu.
“I lived in a cosy village called Dratabu, about fifteen minutes from Nadi town.
“I worked Monday to Friday at Vunayasi District School, and also spent some time working at the village nursery.
“I taught English and I.T to children from grades 1-8, and it was thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding.
“I was also charged with leading personal tuition sessions with children that had fallen behind, perhaps due to absenteeism, or behavioural problems - this was a tremendous opportunity for me to help these children attain the skills needed to progress.
“Fijians are by nature extremely friendly and welcoming people, and my time spent there made me redefine kindness, decency and goodwill.
“I spent my weekends travelling to the various paradise islands such as Mana Island (Mana means magic) and the Yasawa Islands, where I was able to swim and explore the world famous blue lagoon, setting of the movie ‘The Blue Lagoon’.
“I went on road trips in cars with as much power as a tricycle, in one remarkable instance me and my colleagues were overtaken by a cow.
“I lived with a wonderful Fijian family, who provided the finest Fijian and Indian foods, as well as copious amounts of ‘Kava’ which is an ancient, widely consumed narcotic sedative drink made in “Polynesia from the crushed roots of a plant from the pepper family. I was fully immersed in Fijian culture and loved every moment of it.
“Even the searing heat and ungodly humidity which made sleep incomprehensibly difficult, was not
enough to dampen my spirits.
“Everyone in Fiji has a smile on their face and a story to tell you, even strangers on the street.
“I would recommend this company to anyone, of any age or background.
“My fellow volunteers were managing directors, chartered accountants, sixth formers, graduates and teachers back home, from places such as Australia, Japan, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, Belgium and Scandinavia.
“This trip was the best decision I ever made, and it has given me the impetus to volunteer and travel again.
“I arrived in Fiji with little, I came back home with so much more than I had bargained for.
‘Fiji Time’ as it is known locally, was certainly one of my best times.
Vinaka Vakelevu (Thank you so much) Fiji.”