Week 1 in Niubasaga


I finally found some internet so here is a summary of my first week living/working in a Fijian village:

I cannot believe I’ve been in the village a whole week. It feels like a completely different planet. It’s been an insane experience already – I say as I’m sat on a hospital bed on Levuka with a saline drip going into my hand.

From the minute we left Viti Levu and got on the tiny little motorboats across the ocean to Moturiki to this moment right now… I cannot even explain to you what it’s been like to live in a Fijian village.

My family is lovely and my Fijian mum is so kind. My project team is incredible, everybody is so close and supportive already it feels like we’ve known each other forever, not just a week. My leaders have both been brilliant too, especially since I’ve been sick. School is just another world all together – it’s so eye opening and shocking to see how many children struggle and how the teachers don’t have the attention or care to help them.

Village life has been hard. I say that even when I’ve surprised myself with how well I’ve been coping. But even though I’ve just got on with it and not broken down… it’s been HARD! You have to accept that you won’t feel clean, ever… my feet are constantly dirty. My nails are black underneath even when I try and scrub them and I cut them as short as possible. The toilets, well, they’re a hut with a toilet seat over a hole in the ground (a compost toilet). There are giant cockroaches in there. Crab holes everywhere. And at night a million frogs invade the village. The shower could be worse, we have a little leaf hut, a barrel of water and a scoop to pour said water over yourself. It’s freezing, but after a 45min trek from school where you’re sweating like crazy and coated in mud – it’s not too bad.

The trek to school is another adventure altogether! We’ve got the 45min trek down to closer to 30mins now. The way there is harder than the way back as it’s way more uphill. You’re either kicking your way through the undergrowth or slipping up and down ridiculously muddy slopes. And that’s before you get to the log bridge. The first log bridge is fine, the second is a Challenge and a half. It consists of 3 logs sitting quite high over an overgrown ditch. It’s always coated in wet slippy mud and there’s barely any grip. It was the worry of every trek and the boys always have to help us across (the Fijians and the kids hop across like it’s nothing). However… you should have seen the look on our faces when our village men build railings (in only 15mins) around the bridge!? And even added a log for balance. All our faces lit up on the trek home when we saw it. Now our time will be cut down even more and we’ll be speeding over the mountain and back! 

The reason they built the railings was to make it easier for people to travel to our village as sadly there was a death and so there will be lots of people coming for a funeral this week. It’s going to be a very sad day and the village has been rather somber and will stay that way until after the funeral. There’s been no hop hop (Fijian dancing) or music or games really. We are all going to attend the funeral though, which will be very eye opening and emotional and probably hard to see but a very unique experience.

I’ve also been sick most of the week. Friday and Saturday night were the worst. I’ve had crazy bad tummy pain, nausea and been vomiting. I barely ate anything on Friday and Saturday and what I ate I threw up. Then didn’t eat at all on Sunday. To be safe I’ve been boated over to Levuka to the hospital to get checked and have now been given a saline drip to help rehydrate me. Hopefully it’ll start looking up from here as I’ve been in pain and drained and exhausted most of the week which has made it even harder.

The food here is so different too. I expected that but it’s been hard, especially being sick. Our mum is a good cook though and there’s 7 of us from our team (including the two leaders) who eat together as we are extended family in the village. It’s nice to all be able to eat together. It’s not bad food (just either super salty or super sugary and generally very fried!) it’s extremely carb-heavy too which makes it hard for your tummy to adjust. I did okay at the start of the week and pushed through although since I’ve been sick it’s been hard and I think I have more negative psychological thoughts towards it now. 

It’s so hard to explain. It does just feel like a whole other world. Saw cars today when we got to the mainland and it was so weird to see them, like it’s only been a week but you get so used to village life. I’m 1/3 of the way through and I’m sure the next two weeks are also going to whizz by, hopefully I’ll be feeling better too so I can really throw myself into it! The village children are so energetic and the kindi class in school are mental but so much fun (although the language barrier is hard).

It really is an experience unique to each project and each person and I don’t think anyone outside of my team will ever truly understand. Here’s to the next two weeks of island life! Probably won’t be able to update until I’m out of the village now but I’ll see you when I see you!

Yaz x 

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