Madison Bunton - Care & Community Village Project in Fiji
For so long I had been dreaming of really taking my volunteering and outreach activities to the next level. I really wanted to place myself outside my comfort zone and do something I am so passionate about and committed to. After many years of volunteering with Vinnies, Edmund Rice, City Mission, I was ready and keen to step it up and take on something big! After researching and hearing inspiring stories I found the perfect opportunity through Projects Abroad that would cater for all my desires to help and learn at the same time in one big, eye opening experience. I was granted the opportunity to meet several motivated students with similar desires and passions to help, learn, grow and become a stronger, more educated and experienced volunteer. I chose this project to gain experience, to build self-esteem, to develop skills or even learn new ones and to feel as though I am truly making a contribution to society.
I was one of the only volunteers who hadn't travelled overseas before so travelling seemed a bit daunting at first however the team and co-ordinators made it such a smooth transition into a new and very different environment. I definitely was struck with a culture shock being so different to back at home however I was quite surprised by how fast I adapted to the environment and got along with my host family. The children in the kindergarten were absolutely beautiful, such little angels. They were filled with only happiness and constantly laughing. That's something I'm already missing, their appreciation for what they have, being very little. I never got sick of the many "bula's" we received or the warm hugs and smiles.
Our typical day consisted of working in the kindergarten in the morning till afternoon, running games, activities, educational games, small lessons, singing, dancing and overall just having lots of fun being with the children ensuring a fun filled summer school. After lunch we would begin our community work being clean ups around the village, cleaning the school, picking up litter, renovating the classroom, ripping up carpet and getting rid of ant infested boxes. It's easy to say we worked hard and fast ensuring that our individual goals were met and that we got the most out of this short yet busy experience.
The group of volunteers were some of the most kind hearted people I have ever met! Each and every one had their different talents and special aspects that made us so different. We all got along like a tight knit family and I am certainly missing all and each of them. Our group of volunteers worked so effectively with each other and knew that we were there for the Nawaka Village more than to socialise.
I am missing the experience so much, my host family, the children, the yummy food and just the happy, bubbly environment. The opportunity has motivated me to take on a similar and longer project in the future. My travel has inspired friends and family also to do something similar. I can't find a fault in the experience other than getting sick towards the end of my experience. The many photos I took are printed and plastered on the walls of my room and have filled my social media pages. I never want to lose the precious memories I made and I can guarantee I will never stop talking about the journey I took on. For those who are applying, I just want to say you’re in the right spot and you’re in safe hands! It is honestly one of the best decisions I have made in my life and I wouldn't take back anything that occurred on my travel. I would just have to say be prepared, be motivated and dedicated to your work, know what you’re in for, do your research and encourage friends to join the journey with you! I’m just going to leave this reflection by saying to future volunteers taking on a similar project, don't underestimate the power of your vision for every little thing you do influences one or several people and the journey you partake on may seem little to some yet I guarantee your work is influencing, changing, empowering, motivating and changing someone or something! - Maddy Bunton 16 Tasmania