Toby’s Fund has helped me to spend the most amazing eight months working as a kindergarten teacher in Moturiki Island, Fiji.
Moturiki is beautiful but it is also a very poor island with no running water, no electricity, no roads or vehicles, no internet and poor phone signal. Though the people are financially poor, they are rich in kindness and faith.
I stayed with a host family in Nasauvoki village, and helped my Na (Mum) with some of the household work including: sweeping, picking up rubbish, collecting coconuts and firewood and sometimes I was allowed to help with the cooking.
My accommodation was very basic – the toilet was a hole in the ground outside, flushed with a bucket of water. I showered wearing clothes using a bucket of water, my bedroom had a curtain instead of a door and my windows had panes of glass missing so when it rained I got wet in my bed. All the cooking was done on the floor and we ate off a mat sitting on the floor. There were also lots of animals in the house – throughout my stay I had cats, dogs, chickens, rats, cockroaches, spiders and centipedes in my room.
I ran a kindergarten (kindi) in the village hall which was very challenging. I rarely had a helper, which made communicating with the children difficult as I spoke very little Fijian and they spoke virtually no English. I could have between 0 and 17 kids each day, as they didn’t all always turn up, which made planning the day difficult. The kids were very cheeky but also very sweet, and I loved getting to know them all. There were very few resources in the kindi, so I was very lucky that my family and friends at home sent things like colouring books, paints and bubbles out which the kids loved. Every day at kindi we would play games, sing songs, do arts and crafts, and I taught them the alphabet, counting to ten and colours in English and Fijian. Running the kindi was so rewarding as I could see the children making progress with learning, and it was lovely to see the shy kids settle in and make friends.
Christianity is the main religion in Fiji, and my Island was Methodist. I loved going to church every Sunday and seeing everyone dressed up in their finest clothes. I couldn’t understand any of the service as it was all in Fijian, but the 4 part A Cappella singing was beautiful! My Ta (Dad) was a pastor, and was glad that I was a Christian too, as it meant that I could join in with their devotions in the evenings.
I made many friends with the locals on my island and with the other volunteers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. I have gained so much from my time in Fiji, I feel it has made me a better person and a better Christian.