and looking back, I really couldn’t have done it without them. They assisted me in my application and preparation before my departure, and throughout my time in Fiji, were in contact with me to check how it was going. I never felt alone or forgotten, their support was always there. My experience in Fiji was fantastic, I was assigned to a lovely host family and a beautiful children’s home, and the memories I made still flash through my mind every time I close my eyes. Thank you IVI for all your time and effort into making my trip the best it could be – I can never thank you enough!
When I chose to spend my summer holidays volunteering at the orphanage in Fiji, I had no idea of the way in which it was going to be so unique, rewarding and truly life-changing experience for me…….I am very passionate about supporting people in developing countries to give them equal opportunities as the rest of the world, especially innocent children, and so this activity really intrigued me. My goal was to be able to use my prior skills to help the children in need, and for that to positively impact the community. While doing this, it was also an opportunity in which I aimed to develop a variety of skills and learn much about myself, and the world.
The Orphanage is a children’s home in the town of Nadi, on Viti Levu (main island) in the beautiful Fiji Islands. It is home to 21 children, aged from 2 to 19 years, both boys and girls. Though the children are wonderfully cared for in this excellent facility, I observed that they are still so under privileged and have understood some of their tragic circumstances. While volunteering at the home, I participated in a range of activities in order to assist the staff and help the children. These included bathing and feeding the babies, playing and doing activities with the toddlers, as well as talking and helping the older girls with their studies. In addition, some days I would do household duties, like folding loads of washing, and I also worked in Administration at times. I would be asked to plan and initiate activities for the children to participate in, including educational exercises, and was assigned tasks by Administration, to carry out by with others and by myself, such as creating a birthday chart. At the home, I had to work collaboratively with others who I didn’t know and who had different backgrounds to myself, like the Fijian and Indian staff members as well as my fellow volunteers from all over the world, some of which will become life-long friends.
This experience has been the most unique, rewarding and life-changing experience of my life. There were many challenges and difficulties that I faced throughout my time there, such as the foreign culture, which included language barriers, unfamiliar environments and different ways of life (and from that, being the only person from my culture), as well as working with the numerous children and the other volunteers from all around the world with their own cultures. But these were quickly overcome, and overall, they were easily outweighed by the rewards from these challenges. I feel as though the experience has been such a big achievement for me, as I have faced these challenges by myself, overcome them, and learnt so much from them. I have increased my awareness of my strengths and weaknesses, and have developed a vast amount of new skills, like mental and social. I have learnt so much, and can apply this learning in new situations. For example, I have discovered a completely foreign culture which has taught me, through challenges, how to adapt, accept and work together with people that have different backgrounds as myself, and this will be very useful in later life during international travels. Everything has just had such a big impact on my life, and has changed many of my perspective and opinions.
Overall, the experience was absolutely invaluable. I have learnt more than I would ever have expected to, and I know that this will be of great help in the future. There is not a day that goes past that I do not miss my treasures and my friends, and I will never forget this unique and life-changing experience and the impact it has had on my life.
Geena – Northern Beaches, Sydney Australia 2014