I spent two weeks travelling around Fiji where I stayed in Lautoka, Suva, a village, and a resort – so lots of different accomodation styles. I was very lucky to have had such an amazing team to work with – they went from being a team of strangers, to becoming like a second family to me. We received training on how to perform blood pressure and blood sugar checks, and how to take height, weight, and waist measurements correctly. The first week of the project was spent living in a village. It was a huge culture shock at first, just a completely different way of living to what we have back home. But it was one of the highlights of my trip because never have I felt so welcomed, accepted, and taken care of by such lovely and friendly people. Our host family were wonderful, making us feel so at home and giving us the opportunity to really immerse ourselves in the culture. I learnt so much from them – Fijian phrases, what they typically eat, how to tie a sulu correctly, their history, what a typical day in a village is like, the etiquette, etc. By the end of the stay I really did feel like a local. This was a truly eye opening and rewarding experience, being able to put a smile on each individual’s face when we performed the health checks and knowing how much it meant to them was such an amazing experience to be apart of. The second week of the project was spent at Nanuku resort. This was a completelty different contrast to what we had experienced the previous week. But again, just like the first week, we were warmly welcomed and just our presence was so highly regarded by the Fijian people. A highlight for me in this week was hearing how some of the ladies had consciously made the effort to increase their exercise and watch their sugar consumption, leading to lower weight and waist measurements which came primarily down to the fact that they had listened to our education talks the last time we had visited them. So hearing this only reinforced why this project is so worth becoming involved in, knowing that you truly are making small differences in peoples lives.
This project was so much fun. It gave me the opportunity to meet so many like minded people from different areas around the world. There was a lot more down time on this project which gave me more of a chance to do sightseeing and activities which I really enjoyed. I decided to do the cultural introduction week on my first week of this project, and it is safe to say I’m really glad I did! This would be the highlight of this project and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering taking part in this – we got to visit a waterfall and swim in it, we hiked up Sigatoka sand dunes, we went to Maui bay, we did a cooking lesson on how to make some of the popular Fijian food, we did a Fijian language class, and we also learnt how to weave bracelets. I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching in the preschool and absolutely fell in love with the Fijian kids! It was so great to be able to help teach them to write and read, count their numbers, and learn the alphabet.
Comments on local team, food and accommodation
Mere and Masi were so lovely and welcoming. I was greeted at the airport by them and from day one they made me feel so at home and well looked after. They felt like my second set of parents and really took great care of all of us. I have a few dietary requirements and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to eat much of the food – however, Mere made sure I was well catered for and there was always something for me to eat. The food on this project was amazing!! It was so fresh and very well cooked – you could tell a lot of time and effort had gone into preparing every lunch and dinner. I really enjoyed trying all the different Fijian food and actually feel in love with rourou (taro leaves stewed in coconut milk).
Carrun was an awesome coordinator – she always provided reassurance, support, and encouragement every step of the way, and never pushed you into doing something you didn’t want to do (e.g. my downfall was taking blood pressure!) She made us feel really comfortable to communicate anything we were unsure of or if any issues arised we knew we could openly communicate to her about them. It was great to see her in her element, and seeing how passionate she was about the work she was doing reinforced why we were doing these health checks, and actually inspired me to want to do something similiar in years to come. It was really fun to work with her and I liked the balance between engaging in intense work, but also being able to share a laugh and debrief with her at the end of the days.
Any improvements to help us be better?
The coral coast projects’ food options could be improved to incorporate more variation into the dishes and also to cater better for those with dietary requirements.