Volunteering in Fiji

Last October I had the opportunity to visit Fiji to support the local community with another 27 work colleagues from six different countries. We spent a week building a new home for a family and installing community toilets in the village.

I’ll never forget my first impression of Gita’s home. It was a very small green house made from tin, with just one bedroom for three people, a small kitchen and an open living space.

Her toilet was just some tin bits an a seat made by stones; her shower was a big yellow container full of rain water. We take everything from granted here at home but It’s difficult to believe that 1 in 3 people worldwide still don’t have access to a decent toilet close to home.

We were working in Sariyawa settlement, which is located at the top of a mountain as is a very dry area with no access to electricity.

Nine of us were assigned to help the building work for the house and as soon as we arrived the project leaders divided us into two small groups. I was in the team mixing gravel and cement, while the rest were digging and lining blocks for the base of the rooms.

On the last day, we worked double shifts to try to complete the task. It was around 32 degrees, extremely humid and, after mixing around 30 wheelbarrows of cement and gravel, we were exhausted but very happy.

Gitas was very please with our work. I will always remember her smile just before I jumped into the bus to go back to the lodge.

During the week we also got the chance to spend the afternoon serving food at a women’s shelter and playing rugby with kids from the local area. I brought with me a few big packs of lolly pops so I felt like Santa at Christmas.

This was an amazing, eye opening experience and probably one of the best trips of my life. I would encourage others to get involved in a project like this if you get the opportunity.

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