Volunteer Review: Angus N., General Care Projects in Fiji
Volunteering Experience in Fiji
I am Angus N. from Hong Kong. I am 26 years old and was a bank officer. My time abroad as a volunteer was my first time in Fiji and my first time volunteering, which I did for 3 months. I have always wanted to join a short-term volunteering project. After spending 3 years in the banking industry, I wanted to take a break. I was happy to find Projects Abroad, who offer overseas volunteering opportunities for various periods. Fiji has always been known as a beautiful country, full of cultural traditions. Fiji therefore stood out to me among all the other destinations.
Community Work in Natalau Village & Holiday School in Saravi Village
In the first month, I stayed in the village under the Sleeping Giant – Natalau Village. I helped my host family build a new chicken fence for growing roosters and birds that could later on be sold. As my arrival time was close to year-end, I was also involved in various break-up celebration parties and cultural activities in the village. Personally, I think community work is not only limited to any specific project – it is a day-to-day experience in which I get to be one of the village tenants and deliver whatever I can at all times. “Being part of the village” is what stayed in my mind throughout my stay.
Before Christmas, I was invited to help clean up the sacred cemetery with other village boys. We worked together under the hot sun and shared fruit juice together after we finished our work. At that time, I truly felt that I was a member of the village.
Apart from community work, I also attended the holiday school in Saravi Village twice a week. The main theme was Christmas and our time there was very interesting. The holiday school program commences when the school holiday begins and aims to keep children focused on learning during their spare time. Projects Abroad provides the resources and materials that help to keep the children busy. Volunteers also plan activities for the children on the following week so the required materials can be prepared beforehand. We hoped that by interacting with the children, we could help inspire them to strive for better living and work harder, so that one day they could become professionals and improve the standard of living for their families.
Each month, there is a specific day called the “Community Day”, in which all the volunteers would gather to go to a specific community to perform volunteering work, which would usually be painting or renovation work at schools. I had not painted anything before I came to Fiji, and discovered that I am actually quite good at it, especially because I enjoy drawing cartoons. After painting the walls, I could always come up with ideas to paint funny and cute cartoons on the walls so that the children would enjoy going to school more.
Holiday School in LOVU Hart
After my community work in Natalau was finished, I was assigned to a new host family in Namaka. After 4 weeks, I missed my first family so much that I moved back to Natalau. I am fortunate to have lived with both the families I did in Fiji (Indigenous Fijian and Fijian-Indian), as I now have a better understanding of more of Fijian culture.
We ran coloring lessons and made little handcrafts with the children during the two weeks, and also did some back-to-school revision with them. We had a tie-dyeing workshop which all of us really enjoyed. I was also deeply impressed by the farewell dance performed by the children at the end of the 2 weeks. Most of the boys were crying when we were about to leave, which made me feel really touched. I do hope that my stay helped to plant some seeds in their minds and hearts, to keep inspiring them to work hard.
Teaching in Saunaka Village
My final project in Fiji was the teaching program, and my role was to be a teaching assistant in the class. As the school has only 4 teachers, Class 5 and Class 7 would both be assigned under the same class teacher. I assisted in teaching Maths, Science, English and Art lessons with both classes. Within my limited stay, I also organized a science workshop in which we built a toy car using mainly rubber bands, plastic bottles and bamboo sticks. I also helped with renovation of the classroom’s notice board and put up new banners to remind the students of their goals. At the end of the 4 weeks, we had a small farewell party and I was really grateful.
Overall, this account serves as a very condensed note of what I have experienced. I used to be so busy at my work that there was no time left for me to reflect on what I needed in my life. I found that one of the reasons Fijians are always happy and satisfied, is not from materialistic enjoyment, but from bonding with family, with their religion and with their community. There are numerous people I met, each with their own stories for me to share with other people. I have made friends from many different places and age groups. We all had different reasons to join the volunteer work, but we all shared the same goal – to help other people. My 3-month volunteering project was priceless and will always be remembered in my heart.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.