The week before flying into Fiji I felt anxious. I was scared that I was not going to be of much help or that I wasn’t going to enjoy it. My feelings could not have been further off track.
Within three days of being in Silana Village my feelings of anxiousness were replaced by warm feelings of comfort. All the villagers were so welcoming and immediately made me feel at home. Especially my Fijian family, who were intrigued about me and loved to listen to stories about my life, my family, and future endeavours. It’s been great getting to know them; they truly are amazing people with huge personalities and beautiful smiles.
School was challenging at times and even though there is still so much that needs to be done, I am confident that I accomplished a little something each day. The children were so enthusiastic to learn and they were so grateful for everything that I did; even if it was just reading them a story or singing a song with them.
Even after school finished our time with the children continued, as we played with them on the beach and danced to the “taki taki.” They occasionally came to our bure (house) to talk to us or to borrow some paper, colouring pencils and read books.
In the evenings we had time to relax either chatting amongst ourselves, having dinner with our Fijian families, or stargazing on the beach. Sometimes some of the villagers would gather together to play guitar and sing whilst drinking kava and sharing stories.
I have learnt a lot from the locals about their foods, their language, and their culture, but most of all about the Fijian lifestyle. Witnessing all they are able to achieve with the little they have and still being so content makes me truly grateful for the life that I have.
I am satisfied with the work I have done here, the time I have spent with the children in school and with the contribution I have made to their community. People always say that to really experience a place and it’s culture, you must live just like the locals do. I agree. Living in the village has allowed me to experience the real Fiji, but I still feel that there is so much more that I need to know. So I plan to return one day, as a part of me belongs to Silana Village.
Lauren Linares – 4 week Dawasamu Education volunteer