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Testimonial from

I enrolled on the Childcare programme as I have a passion for working with young children. As I arrived in the last week of October I was only working in the primary school for the month of November as schools are closed in Fiji during December. This meant that I was lucky enough to also work on the community project during the December month. This project really opened up my eyes to the real world and challenges that others face. It makes you really grateful for what we have. The Silana and Natale-I-ra kids just had so much passion and love to give. From the first day that I walked into the school to the very last day, they treated me as if they had known me for a lifetime. It was so refreshing for them to want to play games with you, read a book with you or learn about you and where you came from. They had a thirst to learn about the western culture but they also were very keen for you to learn about them and their community. For me, the most rewarding part of working at the school was my one to one sessions with Pita. He just had something so special about him. Every day he came to the lesson with a smile and found it so rewarding to learn - something that a lot of children here in the UK take for granted. What makes this programme even more special is the fact that you are part of the village and more importantly the Fijian community. Before leaving for Fiji I thought the biggest challenge for me would be missing my family but the GVI staff, volunteers and the Fijian community show so much compassion to you that you feel like they are your family. This project really embraces the Fijian lifestyle and you start to get a real understanding of their culture. Every Sunday we attended the weekly church service and then would have lunch with our Fijian families. I found this very different and a big cultural shock the first time I attended as the way that family meals were served was completely different to what I was used to. As a guest you were seated at the head of the table with the men of the family. We were allowed to eat first and had priority on the fish/ best parts of the meal. I found this quite difficult to start off with as I felt it was unfair that I should get first picks when the Silana women had worked so hard. As a volunteer, you didn't only work at all hours of the day you got to also experience Fiji. As a group, we went away to resorts, explored the capital, went on trips to watch the dolphins and even went snorkeling. You had the sea only a footstep away so swimming was always on the cards. We played board games in the evening, had quiz nights, and movie nights. Food was also very interesting as we cooked in teams so you may know what's on the menu but the same dish may not turn out the same on two different nights. Coming back to London felt strange and it made me really think about what is truly important. Family has always played a big role for me but the way that the community interacted in Fiji really got me thinking. I have continued working in my previous role and I feel that this project has really changed the way I work. I have become more confident and capable of making decisions. For anyone who is reading this or is on the fence whether or not you should go, just pick up the phone and enroll. It is honestly a life-changing experience and the memories will stay with you for a lifetime. Even now I just randomly remember the children's smiles, or the Silana women shouting ‘Kana’ as they were eating. It is a decision and experience you won't regret.