Volunteer blog: Tori Leach

Definitely among the most amazing experiences I’ve had since arriving in Fiji was the day me and of the other volunteers spent the day at a high ropes centre in an idyllic setting in the beautiful Fijian countryside. The two best elements of it were undoubtedly the giant swing and the incredible 440m zip wire.

The giant swing was comprised of a wooden pole 15ft high which we had to climb by means of metal staples that protruded from its sides. At the top was a small metal platform which had railings on three sides, and the other side was where we had to jump from. When I reached the metal platform courage to jump off was hard to come by, but with a little (slightly sarcastic) encouragement from my friends, I jumped.

Of all the rides and roller coasters I’ve been on, none have given me an adrenaline rush like that giant swing did. I began to scream but the sound was torn away from me as I sped towards the dry earth in freefall, and it took seemingly forever for the upwards tension of the rope to pull on me, so that I felt like I would plummet to the ground with nothing to break my fall. After this initial descent I began to rise again, reaching the height of the forest canopy and levelling the tops of the surrounding palm trees, and after the heart-stopping moment of being completely stationary at that highest point of the arc, I began to accelerate down again, this time with my body facing the flawlessly blue sky. I screamed and laughed with utter exhilaration and gratitude that this moment had been accorded to me.

The zip wire took my breath away in a very different way. It was much slower at first than the giant swing, I suppose because of the friction between wire and harness, but I was glad of the more leisurely pace because it allowed me to make the most of my achingly beautiful surroundings. Layer upon layer of tree-covered mountains stretched away to my right, the nearer ones pine-green but dashed with yellow and white where the blazing sunlight proved too much for the wide tropical leaves to absorb and the distant ones hazy and blue, like a huge far-off fish in a vast expanse of ocean. Before me was a tranquil, shady valley that contrasted exquisitely with those majestic tree-lined hills. A shallow stream snaked through it and trees with bent boughs were clustered around its gentle banks, as if kneeling to drink from its cool crystal waters. Where there were no trees, there was grass which from my height seemed so perfect that it reminded me of a golf course I used to pass on my way back to from school. Here and there, a rustic bridge spanned the brook with sturdy, un-manicured logs that perfectly suited their surroundings. As I descended towards the tree tops, this wind whistling through my hair, I knew clearly that this was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me. The exhilaration and gratitude flooded me again.

By Tori Leach, Journalism volunteer

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


Teaching and Community Coordinator blog: Traditional Fijian Food and Delicacies

Cooking for the family is a responsibility that belongs to the women in the house. Most Fijian families will grow a lot of their own fruit and vegetables on their land; alternatively a market is never far from the local villages or cities.

A traditional Fijian breakfast could consist of any of the following; green bananas (*jaina), bread fruit (*uto), cassava soaked in water usually for 3 or 4 days before eating and vudi – known in Fiji as the eldest brother of the banana as it is bigger in size than a banana. The vudi would traditionally be cooked with coconut juice, the coconut will be scraped and then the vudi will be boiled with the coconut (*niu) shavings and coconut juice and salt is also added.

Lunch for traditional families will be cassava *(tavioka) boiled in water or coconut juice with dalo leaves (*rou rou). Meals are usually repetitive and contain the same ingredients. Meat and fish are generally only eaten with dinner. A typical Fijian dinner would include fish (*ika) which is boiled and then plated up with cassava (*tavioka) and dalo leaves (*rou rou). All types of seafood are usually eaten including clams (*vasua), shellfish (*vivili) and muscles (*kai), this would all be cooked in coconut milk (niu lolo).

Dessert is not often eaten but on occasions when it is you can expect to find fruit such as watermelon (*meleni), vudi – the eldest brother of the banana, orange (*moli) and pineapple.

A lot of food in Fiji now has a Hindi influence and Fijian homes will eat Daal (lentils), rice, roti, fish curry, vegetable curry and puri (deep fried roti).

*Fijian Translation

By Ria Billings, Teaching and Community Coordinator

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


Teaching and Community Coordinator Blog: Drinking Kava

I have lost count of how many Kava ceremonies I have attended in Fiji but every one is unique. Whether it’s the taste of the kava, the array of colourful sulu’s or the people present Kava is always an interesting and culturally eye-opening experience.

Many Fijian’s will grow the kava root on their land and hand pound it, although this is usually the duty of a male. I’m convinced that behind every Fijian rugby player is an experienced kava pounder as it definitely takes muscles! The root once pounded makes a powder which is mixed with water. Fijian’s refer to a Kava ceremony as a Sevu Sevu. In a traditional family children aren’t allowed to drink kava until they turn 18.

The kava itself can be found in the Pacific Islands and is known for having a sedative effect as it is a natural anaesthetic. Although the effect is mild it will usually leave you with a numb tongue, funny taste in your mouth and you will usually have a good night sleep after a couple of bowls!

The actual taste of kava is something that can’t be described so I suppose you will just have to come to Fiji and experience it for yourself!

By Ria Billings, Teaching and Community Coordinator

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


Volunteer Blog: Christine Deng

One of the best feelings is just waking up to find a meal laid out in front of you. The service on Fiji Airways was excellent.

So here I am on a plane thousands of miles above the Pacific Ocean heading to my first project volunteering abroad – alone. It was daunting at first as I made my way through various corridors and gates but I made it in the end!

Arrived safely in the home stay, Ria, the Frontier staff gave me a few medical and safety tests before proceeding to take me on a tour of the city. There was a clear progression of increasing development as we made our way deeper into the city centre. What surprised me was the 2 large shopping precincts reminding me that although Fiji is a developing country Suva is considered to be more industrialised than many of its neighbours.

There were many beggars in town and it tore my heart when I just ignored them and walk on. I was warned that any donation would attract unwanted attention. In Auckland it was a complete reversal, we were always encouraged to support those in need.

Returning home, I helped Mama and Master with the cooking. I found out that Master has a niece who lives in Auckland and teaches at one of the schools. Dinner was more processed than I expected.

The next day was my first day at Dudley Intermediate School! The kids or just the boys are rowdy and difficult to control; the girls on the other hand were absolutely angelic. Mrs Ravoka was very sweet and encouraged me to teach the class. I taught them a signature dance that is very dear to me and was absolutely delighted when they followed suit. During my story session all the kids listened intently – it left me with a special feeling. I can’t wait to prepare for the next class.

By Christine Deng, Teaching Volunteer

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


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.


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.


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.


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.