Wednesday
Jul162014

Teaching and community coordinator blog: 10 things to do in suva

1) Colo-I Suva Forest Park and waterfalls
If you head in a taxi for about 30 minutes out of the centre of Suva you can this incredible protected forest park which is home to 13 endemic species of bird. The vegetation is lush and typical of Fiji. By the waterfalls you can find a rope swing and experience the cool refreshing pools and enjoy pool hopping.

2) Cinema, village 6 and Damodar City
A cinema ticket at Village 6 in Suva costs $6.50FJD and on Tuesday only $5FJD. Cinemas in Fiji receive movies before England do which is fantastic!

3) Swimming at the Holiday Inn or Olympic swimming pool
Although Suva is about a 45 minute bus journey from a beach there are swimming pools located in Suva for you to relax by after a long hot day in the capital city.

4) Internet Café
If you’re missing home or just want to check on your facebook then the internet café is the place to go!

5) Flea market & the arts and crafts market
This is where you can buy a sulu from $5FJD for your kava ceremonies.

6) Watch a live rugby game
At the ANZ stadium you can watch Fiji play other countries at rugby from $5FJD!
    
7) Shopping
In the centre of Suva there are a couple of big shopping centres, MHCC and Tapoo City. These both have clothing stores, souvenirs and food courts. There is also an amazing view from the top of Tapoo which is definitely worth checking out!

8) Zumba
If you’re a fitness fanatic then you’re not going to want to miss Zumba which takes place at the civic centre on Mondays and Wednesday and only costs $1FJD! You’d be crazy not to go!

9) Gym
There are a couple of gyms located in Suva for you to stay fit while away from home.

10) The Fiji Museum
This holds archaeological material dating back a whopping 3,700 years back! This is a fantastic place to learn about Fijian history and culture.

By Ria Billings, Teaching and Community Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Wednesday
Jul162014

Volunteer blog: Tori Leach

Lots of people said I was brave to be coming to Fiji by myself, and I admit that before I left I was scared about the flights, having never been on a plane by myself before. But when my family left me at Heathrow I was struck by the complete absence of any fear. I realised that this was because before me stood the information boards that they put beside all airport security queues, and there’s nothing scary about waiting in the departure lounge, or finding the correct gate, or boarding the plane… put all those steps together and you get three flights over 36 hours, two of them lasting over ten hours each, that result in you being halfway around the world, and that is a little daunting. But if you focus on each step individually and carry each one out calmly, you’ll be able to look back 36 hours later and be amazed at how far you’ve come without feeling any apprehension at all.

A week into my Frontier project I’ve found the same to be true of my placement, (at a training school for disabled adults), the home stay, Suva (the capital city) and almost everything that I have experienced thus far. Unlike with my flights, there have been moments when I have been very scared (for example, at the end of my first day of placement when the teacher asked me to come up with some activities for the students in the workshop for the severely disabled). However, I am trying always to focus on the next step of this amazing journey and already I’m beginning to see how far I’ve come with very little need for bravery. Most surprising of all, I’ve done it.

By Tori Leach, Teaching Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Thursday
Jul032014

Volunteer Blog: Gareth Stubbs 

What mainly made me decide to choose Fiji for sports coaching was for one simple reason - Rugby. Having played for the best part of my life and despite my enthusiasm far outweighing my talents, I love the sport, something that everyone in Fiji does. Whereas back home in Scotland, if we were to play a ball game in the park or in the playground it would always be football, the same time spent here is rugby. 3V3, boys and girls mixed, a water bottle instead of a ball. Nothing stops the Fijians from somehow improvising a game of their national sport.

Perhaps most telling of this is the fact Fiji has produced more international players per capita than any other country. Perhaps because I’m not from a football or rugby mad family back home, but the way the families all come together to watch the national squad play seems alien, but also warming and is a true token to the way sport brings people together.

There hasn’t been much I could teach the kids here when it comes to rugby when they play it and love it so much. What they have shown me is that perhaps taking a step back from the seriousness of the gym and early morning runs back home and just enjoy the game for what it is, fun.

By Gareth Stubbs, Sports volunteer, Fiji 

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Wednesday
Jun112014

Volunteer blog: Gareth Stubbs

Volunteering abroad is something I’ve looked forward to for a long time, the chance to get away and see another part of the world, meet new people, experience new things and admittedly post the inevitable “my summer away” pictures. However hand in hand with that excitement goes anxiety about going away by your self for an extended period of time.

Perhaps one of the most pressing questions we have as a volunteer before leaving is whether we will get on and make friends with our fellow volunteers. What will they be like? Will we have similar interests? What if everyone thinks I’m a bit weird?! With an organisation as global as Frontier, volunteers come from all over and this can lead to fear that you just won’t be one the same wavelength as your main company for the next few weeks in a new country with little contact with your family or friends. But this simply isn’t the case.

Perhaps the best way to judge the chemistry between you and your new friends is how quickly you start to comfortably make fun of each other. Here in Fiji the “banter” has been flowing thick and fast with everyone giving it as good as they get. With no Xbox’s, connected iphones or laptops you are forced to interact with other volunteers on a much greater level and you know what? It’s much, much better. Card games, writing on foreheads, exchanging transatlantic differences in growing up and yes, drinking the local beer and making memories and friendships that will genuinely last. Basically if you are considering volunteering and are concerned about the people you could be with, don’t. You’ll all come to the same country to give up your time and live an incredible experience. Making friends is never easier.

By Gareth Stubbs, Sports Coaching volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Wednesday
Jun112014

Teaching Coordinator blog: visting the animal shelter

Last week I was lucky enough to visit one of our community partners at the animal shelter in Suva. They care for abandoned cats and dogs. The staff at the shelter are exceptionally friendly and the manager has been there for 33 years! It is clear that they really do care for animals that are housed there. The conditions that the animals were kept in were clean, and despite being in cages the animals were incredibly enthusiastic and content. I jumped at the opportunity to interact with the animals and they seemed just as excited to have somebody to play with!

While at the shelter I met a woman who had bought a dog she had found at the wharf, they suspected it had been hit by a car, he was clearly shaken up and had been through a great ordeal. They named him Scruffy, which was quite fitting considering the state of his appearance. The shelter then took it upon them selves to de-flea, de-tick him and take care of him.

The shelter re-homes around 50 cats and dogs a week. During my short visit there I was able to see a family taking home one of the residents dogs. It was great to get involved with the shelter, there was a great atmosphere there and it was reassuring to know that there are people in Suva who do care for the animals and treat them well. Going back to the shelter and spending time with the animals is top of my to-do list while working in Fiji!

By Ria Billings, Assistant Teaching Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Thursday
Jun052014

Teaching Coordinator blog: Weekend Trips

There is so much to see in Fiji and I didn’t want to waste any time when it comes to exploring the island and all that it has to offer. On my first weekend I went to another island called Nananu I-Ra, it was a 3 hour bus ride away followed by a 20 minute boat ride. We stayed at a resort where we rented snorkelling equipment and some of the volunteers also went diving and were lucky enough to see 3 white-tipped reef sharks! The island itself was beautiful and very secluded. In the evening we were invited to a Kava ceremony with the staff at the resort. It was less formal than the Kava that we have at the home stay, but it was great to experience Kava in a different way.

Weekend in Nasautoka with children by river

Unfortunately the weather here has been unpredictable so the next weekend it rained non-stop! This seemed like the perfect opportunity to go to the cinema! This was my first experience at a cinema in Suva and I was pleasantly surprised by the Village 6 cinema. After the cinema I organised a quiz for the volunteers and then we played Pictionary which was a great laugh! The next evening we went into Suva and found a Karaoke bar. When we arrived there were two men singing incredibly depressing songs, but we soon changed that!

On my third weekend we visited a village called Nasautoka. The village was very basic and the house we stayed in with a Fijian family had no electricity. When we arrived at the village we had a welcome Kava ceremony at the village hall and we all got involved in traditional Fijian dancing with the local people. In the morning 15 children from the village aged between 6 and 11 years old gave us a tour of their village. We then rafted down the river and when we stopped we played games like rugby and netball in the water. Lunch at the river was incredible! I helped some of the girls to pick Fern and Taro leaves, and then our tour guide cooked prawns and cassava in Bamboo –which is the traditional way to cook food. We then had a race back to the village on the rafts and had a farewell ceremony in the village hall where a group of Fijian women presented a song they had created especially for the occasion.

The next day when we returned from the village we headed to Colo I-Suva which is a Forest Park 30 minutes away from the main home stay. The waterfalls were so cold but amazing! You can do pool hopping and there is a great path for walking as well. There is also a rope swing over one of the waterfalls which we made full advantage of.

I spent this weekend with the volunteers in Pacific Harbour which is only 45minutes on a bus from Suva. The resort where we stayed was serene and the staff were incredibly friendly. Despite the fact that it rained all weekend we still had a fantastic time. There was not much of a night life in or around the area but on Sunday evening there was live music at the bar. There was also a great beach and plenty of activities such as horse riding along the beach and kayaking.

By Ria Billings, Teaching Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Tuesday
Jun032014

Volunteer blog: Asia Schnell

Coming to Fiji I had no idea what to expect. I’m from the U.S. and have never travelled out of my country. These past two weeks have been a great eye opening experience. I’ve come here to volunteer in health care since it is my background and I’m so happy with my decision. My first few days here I was introduced to my fellow volunteers, my home stay family and the local city. My family as well as the other Fijian’s I have met in the city are some of the nicest people I’ve met; you definitely don’t meet these types of people in America!


Asia helping with an Environmental Awareness Day at a local school 

 My volunteer work so far has included working with The Ministry of Health as well as the disability centre. For The Ministry of Health I have been helping to collect information about the physical activity, attitudes and behaviours of mainly women aged 18 and over. They are targeting this group because there has been an increase in the rate of obesity diagnosis of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases among the Fijian women. The Ministry of Health wants to know more information as to why this is occurring as well as how they could possibly help. To collect this information I have been walking around Suva passing out questionnaires to women having them fill it out.

For the disability centre I am currently working with their “IDEA” group (Include Disability Employee Ability). This group of workers are trying to help the disabled find jobs and prove to employers that the disabled can be great employees. Last year, the IDEA members passed out application forms to the disabled and we are now calling them back seeing it they still need our assistance in finding a job. I have also helped the disability centre to distribute wheelchairs to those in need. My first wheelchair was given to a 12 year old girl with cerebral palsy. I hope with this aid it will be easier on her family to transport and move her around.

Both these jobs are so rewarding and I hope to continue to help those in need. My time here is flying by. I have two more weeks to complete as much work as possible and experience as much of the Fijian culture that I can.

By Asia Schnell, Healthcare volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Tuesday
May272014

teaching Coordinator Blog: Birds of Fiji

My latest obsession with birds has only grown since coming to Fiji. It has been difficult to find out how many species there are on the Fiji Islands but I am determined to find out!

As I am so busy with my work I don’t have a designated time to bird watch, however as I seem to be constantly running errands in Suva this does give me the chance to keep an eye out for birds.

The first bird I spotted whilst here was the Common Myna – a species which I was already familiar with. With its recognisable yellow eye-stripe and white spotted wings I was able to easily identify it. These birds are everywhere in Suva! On an average day I probably see around 40. As they are mimic birds it is difficult to identify them by their call but their other features are easily identifiable.

I encountered a Red-Vented Bulbul perching on a telephone line on an agonisingly long 3 hour coach trip back from Raki Raki. This definitely made the journey worthwhile!

While on a mission in Suva I spotted 5 White-Faced Herons. Last weekend I went to Colo-I-Suva Forest Park where there are supposedly 13 species of endemic birds and I was hoping to spot a few but I didn’t see any! I heard a couple of calls but the forest was extremely quiet. I plan to revisit the forest park in the hope that I will see some birds.

I was most excited to spot a Fiji Parrot Finch while on the Island of Nananu I-Ra. A Fiji Parrot Finch has a red head and tail and a green body. This was particularly exciting as I have never seen such a brightly coloured bird. Yesterday when returning from school I saw 2 Parrot Finches on the washing line. Typically the moment I reached for my camera they flew away.

I am looking forward to seeing what other birds I can find.

By Ria Billings, Teaching Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.