Sophie Baldwin - General Care Projects in Fiji
This summer I spent a month in the town of Nadi, in Fiji, volunteering at the local Methodist Kindergarten. It was the most amazing and beautiful experience of my life so far, and I can tell it’s going to stay that way!
I am 17, live in Birmingham in England and chose to go to Fiji because it’s probably the furthest I’ll ever travel and I’ve always fancied going there. At the airport I was feeling quite nervous to take on such a big adventure by myself, but I soon met another group of people who were also travelling to Nadi to volunteer. The flight was long but very luxurious! When we landed in Fiji there was a lovely group of men singing and playing ukulele to welcome us, and someone from Projects Abroad was waiting to take me to my Fijian home.
My host family
I was welcomed by my host family with a lovely breakfast and a nice chat on the balcony of their house. I met Marie, my host mum, and she was really lovely. She welcomed me with her arms wide open into her home. She introduced me to the rest of the family, my bedroom and facilities and made me feel really comfortable. In a few hours I met Sophie from the Projects Abroad Office and she took me into Nadi Town to have lunch, and then accompanied me to the kindergarten that I would be working at.
The kids were great! Aged about 3 to 5, they would run up to you with a huge grin on their face and ask to play. There were a couple of other volunteers there too so I was not alone, and the staff made me very welcome. There was a morning session and an afternoon session, and what was so lovely was seeing the children so excited to be spending their time with us and the other kids. A typical day would involve story time, colouring, painting, lunchtime, singsongs and playing outside if the weather was nice. And it always was!
Once a week there would be a social event for all of the volunteers, the best one in my opinion was canoeing, where I met a group of other English people who I got along with really well. With this group and a few others we decided to go on a few weekend trips to the gorgeous Cook Islands! Bounty Island and Beach Comber were amazing.
They were the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The water was a gorgeous blue and so clear that you could see the purple starfish on the rock floor. We went parasailing and snorkelling, kayaking and swimming and the weather was always incredible. I had the time of my life.
My roommate, Claudia, Marie and I went to the hot springs and mud baths just a bus ride away and had so much fun getting covered in warm mud and relaxing in the hot spring bath. I also had a massage; it was wonderful. This was one of the highlights of my trip to Fiji.
End to a brilliant adventure
After three weeks, the day came; I had to go back home. While sad to end such a brilliant adventure, it was a great feeling to be on my way home to see my family and friends. My time in Fiji was the best I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to go again as soon as I can! Thanks go to Marie, my Fijian mum, the children at the kindergarten and the other volunteers and staff for giving me such a wonderful experience that will stay with me forever.
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.