Jaimie Summers - Care & Community in Fiji
Hi, my name is Jaimie, and I am here to tell you about my experience as a Projects Abroad volunteer in Fiji. My placement was held at Natalau Village, Nadi.
The main reason I chose to participate in the programme was because I really wanted to help those who aren’t as fortunate as I am. It was something I had wanted to do for a while, not necessarily with Projects Abroad. It also looked like an amazing experience, and ended up being the best 2 weeks of my life.
Arriving in Fiji
When I first got to Natalau Village, I was in awe how colourful the village was. This was amplified when I got to my hosts family’s house, each wall of the house was a different colour! Another thing that caught my attention was how welcoming everyone in the village was. Wherever we walked, at least one person would shout ‘bula’!
A typical day for us at Natalau Village started at around 7am. We would get up and enjoy a delicious breakfast with our host families (they are amazing cooks!). We would then meet at the community hall to run the holiday school with the village children.
After lunch, we would mainly paint the community hall and some of the village houses. At around 3-4pm we would head back to our host families to either relax or prepare for a trip to the mud pool or Nadi Town. My host family were very religious and had a prayer session at around 7pm, which was shortly followed by dinner.
There are so many highlights to the trip, making it hard to pinpoint one or two of my favourite moments. The first thing that comes to mind are the nights spent with my host family. I was lucky in the sense that my host family had an extremely large extended family, meaning that I made heaps of friends. Until 11:30pm at night my roommate and I would play card games with the older kids in the village.
We would buy snacks in Nadi and bring them back to the village to share during our ‘parties’. Another highlight for me was play time after the holiday school each day. The children would enthusiastically lead us down to the rugby oval where we would play for about an hour. It was amazing how much energy the kids had, even if we couldn’t match it!
As I have already said, I absolutely loved my placement at Natalau Village, making our last day extremely sad. Saying goodbye to the amazing people who had let me into their lives was incredibly difficult. I feel that this whole experience has opened my eyes to the true meaning of happiness. The people in the village have little but were very supportive of each other.
They were willing to help everyone, as we were shown when some of the men came to help us paint in the afternoons. The culture is very relaxed which helped me cope with our busy schedule. My advice for anyone who is considering taking up a placement is to just do it. It is one of the best things you will do, and it is worth every dollar!
Anyway, hopefully this has given you a snapshot of life as a volunteer. I hope you enjoy your placement, and make the most of every moment of the experience!
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.