December Newsletter Fiji - Projects Abroad

December Newsletter Fiji - Projects Abroad

Volunteers Johanna Von Vacano from Germany and Melanie Rigolet from Switzerland with

their Summer School class, after making and decorating paper hats.

Edition 24


• Editor's Notes Page 1

•Santa Claus Is Coming….forget that, the 7’s season is coming… Page 2 – 3

•Christmas in Fiji Page 4 ‐ 5

•Summer School Brings Smiles All Around! Page 6 ‐9

•Something different….A Host Family Story! Page 10 ‐11

•Host Family Of The Month – Mrand Mrs Darmen Prasad Page 12

•Nadi Socials Page 13

•Suva Socials Page 14

•Donations Page 15 ‐ 16

•Ins and Outs Page 17

•Stay Connected Page 18


Editor's Notes

Christmas carols, endless decorations, jolly faces and festive spirits is what Fiji

has been about this month, with the build up to Christmas and the holidays

filling everyone with joy! December has seen 18 volunteers arrive here in Nadi

and Suva, with the volunteers, old and new jetting off to the white sandy islands

and visiting traditional local villages, making as many memories as possible!

Fiji itself has been a very busy country this month, from their involvement in the

Rugby 7’s, preparing for Christmas “Fiji style” and Projects Abroad’s Summer

School once more being held in Nadi and in and around Suva, so read on and

hear all about December in the South Pacific.

Vinaka Vaka Levu

Sophie Birtwistle

Assistant Country Manager

Santa Claus Is Coming…Forget that, the 7’s

Season Is Coming…

For those who thought the rugby season finished on October 23 rd (the final of the World Cup), you were wrong.

As November/December brings the exciting start of the Rugby 7’s season.

Rugby sevens is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and is a variant of rugby union. There are 7 players

in each team rather than the usual 15 and normal matches run for 7 minutes each half (a total of 14 minutes each

game). Still played on a full size field, this form of rugby is incredibly fast and dynamic – look away for a minute

and you’ll miss points being scored!

The game is popular at all levels, with amateur and club tournaments generally held in the summer months.

Sevens is one of the most well distributed forms of rugby, and is popular in parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the

Americas, and especially in the South Pacific.

Australian Teaching Volunteer Belinda Sheehan

They are not called the “Flying Fijians” for nothing!!

and Waisale Serevi.


Throughout the years, Fiji has been known to dominate at 7’s rugby and have been the proud holder of the

World Champion title on more than one occasion.

Kicking off the season in style, was the amazing 2 nd annual Coral Coast 7’s, held in Sigatoka. Over 2 days,

24 teams took part in 60 matches and the rain only added to the thrilling, fast-paced games.

With rugby heroes such as Waisale Serevi (one of the best 7’s players of all teams and a Fijian legend) and

David Campese (Australia rugby legend) and teams from the US and New Zealand joining the mix, it was a

great event with 2 days of top quality rugby.

Of course, don’t forget the normal Fijian entertainment during the breaks of best dressed and best cheer

group competitions. And, as with all great Fijian sporting events, there were always a few of the spectators

ready to get their groove on and entertainment the crowd with their dance moves at any opportunity!

A very popular Wardens team one the Cup Final and took home the F$30,000 prize money.

To add icing to the 7’s cake, Fiji won the first of the IRB 7’s World Series competitions held on the Gold

Coast of Australia on the weekend of November 25 th and 26 th . A great start for the session and fingers

crossed Fiji will continue to dominate the competition. It will surely be a great day if Fiji if we can win the



The Fiji Rugby Team’s sheer determination

makes them a very hard team to be beat!

The weather didn’t put the team off trying their

very hardest!



Christmas In Fiji!!

Christmas in Fiji is a major celebration with almost 60% of the population being Christian. That said, those

from other religions often also join in with the celebrations.

Christmas also falls during the long summer holiday’s period for schools so it is a great opportunity for the

whole family to take time to relax together regardless of their religious affiliation.

In Fiji, Christmas is less about extravagant decorations and numerous gifts, but about family get togethers

and lots and lots of food. (A given for most Fijian gathering!)


decorations have

been in homes

and shops since

late October!


shopping mall

in Suva with

their beautiful



A traditional Christmas day in Fiji normally starts with a visit to church for prayers and the singing of Carols,

some at midnight and in the morning. Most families then return home to prepare and enjoy their lovo (meat,

fish and vegetables cooked in the earthen pit oven). The feast may consist of fish, chicken, pork, rou rou (like

spinach), dalo, cassava, salads, noodles, curries … Fijian families are big and consist of lots of extended

family and the Christmas lovo is an opportunity for everyone to get together and eat too much. (Sound


At some point during the festive season, most families will also pack up and head to the nearest beach for a


Gift giving is also common and the whole of Fiji is decorated with colourful lights (sometimes just left up from

the recent Hindi Diwali celebrations) and Christmas carols ring out from shops, homes and churches.

A Fiji Christmas is the perfect time for prayers, song and merry making in the sun with friends and family.

Santa Claus is just

one of the many

decorations being

sold this festive


The annual


Tree display in



Summer School Brings Smiles All


Now every child all over the world loves school holidays, the countdown of days as it gets closer and closer,

and the excitement when you step out of those school gates and know you do not have to return for weeks,

but for the children of Nadi Airport School, it has been an even more exciting time….Summer School is in

town. Three times a year in the school holidays, Projects Abroad run a Holiday School Programme at Nadi

Airport School, and various schools in and around Suva, where all pupils of the school, aged 6-14, have the

opportunity to come along and learn new things, experience different cultures and have endless fun…all run

by Projects Abroad Volunteers in Nadi and Suva. The Nadi volunteers have had such fun teaching the children

about their countries, taking dance lessons, Arts and Crafts sessions and so much more. The Nadi volunteers

began their Summer School programme on the 5 th of December and it will run until the 20 th of December, with

a break from the 23 rd of December until the 1 st of January, giving the volunteers time to relax over Christmas

and make the most of all the delicious festive Fijian food that will be on offer.

The children at Nadi Airport School had great fun making these butterflies out of recycled materials!!!


The programme began with the volunteers dividing the children into age groups with between 3-4

volunteers assisting each class, and endless activities for the children to take part in and learn from, all of

which were greeted by cheers from the children and constant smiling faces. Nadi Summer School is going

really well and I am very proud of all the hard work and energy the volunteers are putting into it….showing

school holidays with Projects Abroad can be fun!!! So keep up the good work guys and to those coming to

join us..I hope you are looking forward to taking part and are already thinking of ideas and activities to keep

these great children happy and smiling!



Bentsen from

Denmark with

her class!

Max Reichert

and Kevin


discussing the

rules of the


Volunteers Max

Reichert from

Austria and Kevin

Schrieber from

Canada playing

football with the



Summer School Time In Suva…

It is the end of the school year in Fiji and for Projects Abroad Care and Teaching volunteers this means Summer School

Fun. This year more than thirty children of Suva Primary participated in the holiday school lessons. The emphasis was on

educational learning this time and the volunteers did just that.

Volunteers, Daniel Sioberg (Austria), Tory Khaner, Karina Sharipova (Canada), Carmen Walliser, Lara Kleffman, Maike

Birk, Emine Yildiz, Tamara Denzin, Jakob Michels (Germany), Grace Liang (Australia) and Desiree Brandis (USA)

enjoyed two and half weeks with the children. It was a combination of fun and entertainment for the children as they

tried their skills at painting, weaving, drawing, making puppets, masks and singing. Almost every day, the children were

challenged with interesting math quizzes, English lessons, geography knowledge and a few interesting science facts.

Volunteers Sarah Ireland and Grace

(Ruiji) Liang from Australia.

Maike Birk from Germany with children

from her Summer School Class!

Volunteers Hilde Haldorsen from

Norway and Leila Yussef from Sweden.


The Suva volunteers with their summer school children

when they went to see Happy Feet 3D!

German volunteers Maike Birk, Lara Kleffmann, Nele

Mates, Emine Yildiz and Carmen Walliser.

They had not certainly forgotten Christmas and in the last few days, the volunteers and children were all

kept busy designing cut‐out snowflakes, Santa hats and Christmas trees. Wish‐lists and Christmas cards

were also fun and entertaining as it combined some interesting arts and crafts. As part of an integrated

learning experience the children were treated to the movies to watch “Happy Feet” in 3d with the

volunteers. The excitement and enthusiasm was clear on the children and they all had a great time at the


The pride and joy was visible on the young faces of the children on the last day as they received their

certificate of participation from their volunteer “teachers”. For many, the volunteers were not only teachers

but inspirations and mentors. The days surely go by fast and it was sad to say good‐bye but they were

promises of a bigger and better summer next year. Good bye 2011!!


The Pleasure is all ours, Volunteers!

A Poem to all Volunteers by an anonymous author.

Doing the good you can,

by all the means you can,

in all the ways you can,

in all the places you can,

at all the times you can,

to all the people you can,

as long as you ever can.

Our little family on 258 Rewa Street, Suva Fiji, has grown in size and in intellect, thanks to Projects Abroad Fiji, and especially,

its wonderful volunteers who have, and continue to, grace our humble abode. Right from the comfort of our living room, we

have taken long “glimpses” into the worldviews of the Irish, the Russians, The Canadians, and the Chinese raised in Australia,

thanks to the wonderful (and mostly humorous) conversations of our dear Rebecca from Ireland, Karina from Canada/Russia,

and Grace from Australia/China, who have been members of our household in this respective order. While this in itself is a

valuable reward for being a host family, it is far outweighed by the pleasure of seeing the volunteers settle comfortably into our

home as “our children” and quickly adapt to our “ways of doing things” without any glitches or hiccups!



Niseta and Antonio

Buatava. Who

kindly wrote this



As a host family, we have noticed an evident pattern threaded across the volunteers we have come across. They are all “go

getters” in disposition and very warm hearted individuals with a need to make a difference in someone’s life. Their energy

was never ending, and they all made sure there was a lot of time spent with the “family”, even though we could tell they

were exhausted from a day’s work at their designated institutions. News of the day were brought home daily, some mixed

with the volunteers’ interpretation of local events from their (“outsider”) viewpoints—much to our pleasure as it

provided us with yet another perspective of interpreting local happenings. This in itself was another “gain” from being a

host family. Living‐room nightly conversations were much looked forward to, in our family, and while it is a natural thing

for a host “mother” to worry about many things, prominent amongst which, is food, this worry was quickly allayed by the

volunteers who had no food discriminations at all!

Before Projects Abroad Fiji drafted us as a Host Family in its Volunteer Program, we had no idea of the nature of the label

“volunteer”. But thanks to the project, whose interface with us hosts are the charismatic and friendly Karishma and

Chinnamma, we have come to know and appreciate this very rare breed of human beings—the volunteers—as real heroes

worldwide. We have grown a lot as a host family through the volunteers, in the same manner that the Fijian students and

patients that the volunteers have served, have also grown from the volunteers. We thank you heaps, Projects Abroad

Fiji, and to all our dear volunteers: May you achieve your dreams with many blessings!

Vianaka Vaka Levu and Faafetai Tele Lava,

Walusio, Niseta and Antonio Buatava.

Volunteers Rebecca

Greer from Ireland

and Karina

Shaipova from

Canada sitting

down for a lovely

family meal!

Host Family Of The Month…Mr & Mrs

Dharmen Prasad

Full of warmth, love and care, the Prasad family has always welcomed our volunteers with open arms and a smile on

their faces. Dharmen and Mumta have been married for 8 years and have two handsome boys. Ryan is 6 years old

and will be starting primary school next year while Reyes is 3 and a half years of age. Dharmen works for the Disaster

Management Office is an executive officer. Mumta was working as an accountant in the Reserve Bank of Fiji before

becoming a mother.

The family has hosted nine volunteers to date and all have made their own niche in the family’s life. Speaking to

Mumta, she said that all the volunteers are still in contact through Facebook with her and that she misses them all.

During the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, our three volunteers had spent it with their family having an awesome

experience with the family and children. The family is a wonderful host and each of our volunteer leaves with a

memorable experience and a second home in Fiji!

Volunteer Daniel Devonald from Wales

with his host families children Ryan and


Volunteers Daniel Sioberg from

Austria, Danielle Van’t Hart from the

Netherlands and Daniel Devonald

from Wales.

Volunteers Georgina Chudek from

Australia and Daniel Devonald from

Wales with the host family


It’s Social Time In Nadi….

December socials have been as enjoyable, memorable and fun‐filled as usual, with volunteers coming together

each week, meeting and greeting the new additions to the group and sending departing volunteers off in style!

This month the Nadi Volunteers have dined at some of the best restaurants in and around Nadi town with our

first social being held at Sitar restaurant, a favourite amongst the group with endless delicious Indian cuisine to

choose from! Our monthly paid social fell on the first Thursday of the month, with volunteers taking on the

Pacific Ocean armed with a rather large Fijian Canoe and a paddle each to steer them straight to a fun‐filled

afternoon. Outrigger Canoeing is something we have done in the past and is always enjoyed by those who take

part, as it lets the volunteers let off some steam with some “slightly” competitive races up and down the bay under

the trained eyes of the instructors from the Nadi Bay Rowing Team . The afternoon was a great success with all

the volunteers returning to shore ready for a well earned rest, and with some saw arm muscles the next day..but

the smiles were still shining!

Picture left to right:

Orpia Cavalevu (Desk Officer),

Melanie Rigolet (Switzerland),

Cyril Wertheimer (France),

Violette Polton (France),

Prashneel Goundar (Teaching

and Care Co‐ordinator), Max

Reichert (Austria), Kevin

Schreiber (Canada), Casey

Paquola (Australia),Katrine

Bentsen (Denmark), Michelle

Blaesius (Germany), Marlene

Wuellner (Germany), Johanna

Von Vacano (Germany) and

Vanessa Niebuhr (Germany)



It’s Social Time in Suva…

What a month it has been and we have been kept busy with our highly anticipated and exciting weekly socials as usual.

The first week of December saw our troupe of 19 volunteers at the Pizza Runners Express, Mid City Plaza, Suva. Here we

were treated to some very tasty, delicious pizza that was at the request of our six month volunteer Anja Hager at her last

social. We will surely be seeing more of this place, thanks Anja!.

The following week, we returned to our all time favorite Bad Dog Café, where we can’t go wrong with the happy hour

form 5 –6 and the tantalizing Christmas dinner specials. As a build‐up to Christmas, we decided to try‐out the popular

ICRAVE Bistro the following week. The food and company were amazing and by this time plans for Christmas and New

Year celebrations’ were already being finalized.

Volunteers were treated to a pre‐Christmas paid social at the Thirty Café on the 21 st . The spirit of the season was clearly

visible on the faces of our volunteers. It was a sad time for the Suva crew as well as we bid farewell to our friends Carmen

Walliser, Daniel Sioeberg, Tory Khaner, Desiree Brandis, Karina Sharipova, Emily Bradon, Donna‐maria Amosa. A toast

was raised to them for their brilliant efforts in making their projects a success. We surely have the one last social for

December and this will be at the ever popular Daikoku Japanese restaurant. Three cheers to 2011! It surely has been a busy


The Suva


enjoying a

lovely dinner




Our hardworking and dedicated volunteers completed a new project at Treasure House Orphanage in Nadi. Headed by

Lars Vinding from Denmark, the team made a new walkway next to the main building.

This project was funded by Projects Abroad Fiji and was looked after by our Teaching & Care Coordinator Mr. Prashneel

Goundar. The team comprised of Lars, Kevin Schreiber from Canada and Max Reichert from Austria.

The children were so inquisitive to see the construction taking place that they kept peeking the whole time …more like

supervising our boys!!!

Volunteers Lars Vinding

from Denmark and House

Mother Louisa

Projects Abroad’s Teaching

and Care Co‐ordinator

Prashneel Goundar and

Volunteer Kevin Schreiber

from Canada.


Everyone had a good time; the boys really enjoyed getting their hands dirty and were pleased by the beautiful smiles of

the children.

Well done guys, you all deserve a huge round of applause.

Volunteers Kevin Schreiber from Canada and Max Reichert

helping build the pathway.

The first layer of cement being layed…carefully being

supervised by the children!



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