Where to begin? For starters… Please bear with me as my thoughts may be a bit scattered throughout these next few writings. They are constantly racing as I try to grasp everything that I am seeing in this magical place. It’s magnificence does not only come from the beauty surrounding me, but also (maybe even more so) from the people that I encounter. You can only be touched while listening and hearing their stories that have impacted the lives of others so greatly.
I was able to get right to work when arriving in Fiji. We went to the “special school” where the volunteers are currently building a playground for the special needs students. It is my hope that this will help them in their studies, as we will include numbers, letters, and games (such as hopscotch etc.) throughout the playground. The education system here struggles for many reasons; one being the fact that the structure of the classroom is lacking a bit. I first noticed this when tutoring. There were many students in the 4th grade class who were still working on their ABC’s, while others were simply being misplaced in the classroom. It is sad seeing students struggling with basic education, but extremely rewarding being able to work with them.
Another project we (HELP volunteers) are working on is sex-ed. There are a lot of young women getting pregnant, and the rape ratio is extremely high. A lot of the people that we are working with don’t really understand protection… or anything about the human body so educating them about this subject is definitely beneficial to the society. Our goal is to inform the students so that we can prevent teen pregnancy and std’s from spreading throughout the villages. We also hope that creating awareness on this subject will help to create a safer community.
Business classes are also being taught. A group of individuals are trying to put together a business plan to help Fijians export Kava. Educating them on how they can use their own resources to their benefit has been a big mission with all of our team members. I love seeing their passion and drive as they brainstorm and execute different ideas to propel the project forward. The locals will definitely learn a lot from the interns and volunteers that are putting this program together.
I taught my first Yoga class to the youth group the other day. The focus of the class was how stress has a negative impact on the body, and how we can redirect that energy elsewhere for our own health benefits. I loved watching them as they really tried to comprehend all of the information that I was giving them. It was also fun seeing the students light up with excitement as they observed different yoga poses then put them into practice.
These are just 4 of the many projects that we have going on. It is amazing to see the impact that us (20) individuals are having on an entire community. I will definitely go into detail of all the things we are doing throughout my posts, but will keep it to that for now.
To end, I just want to express how thankful I am to be in this beautiful place. I’ve gotten sick, sweaty, and dirty. I’m only able to take freezing cold showers (there is no such thing has hot water in the shower here), drink warm water (in the blazing heat), eat all sorts of new things (sometimes scary), and wait anxiously for the day when I hear that I have head lice because it has already made its appearance in our house.
I’m currently facing all these new… experiences... in life, and I’ve never been happier. Why you may ask… experience, knowledge, and improvement. I am learning so many incredible lessons about myself, about God, and about others. I feel as though it is almost impossible to see what I’ve seen, or to feel what I’ve felt and to not grow in some way.
To look into the eyes of another and gain a connection without an understanding of words at times. To see others hardships, triumphs, and individualities that make them beautiful in their own way. I’ve met many individuals that have experienced the most horrific things. A little one that has a skin growing disease in which that child has to scrub extra skin off each night, then literally clips the additional skin when it gets to unbearable to walk, constantly crying out in pain. The child that gets misplaced in school and loses out on the education she needs only because she has a cleft lip.
The man that is committed to a woman he doesn’t love because he made the choice to have a child with her but vowed to never be the nonexistent parent that he had. The beautiful children staying in the orphanage that have no parent to provide that connection each of us needs. To see a group of people wanting to punish a man all because he took some shoes and shorts. To talk to that young individual (that stole the stuff) and to see his goodness only through a short conversation… then to understand that he probably wasn’t taught certain principals in the home. I know after talking to him that he has probably experienced more traumatic things than I could ever imagine. After hearing the police were called I wanted to tell him to run, but knew I couldn’t. My heart broke as I saw him get escorted to the police car thinking his life was only to get worse. Regret ran through my veins, then sorrow as I had heard he was beat when in the police station for his actions. I cried that night. The justice system is so different here – everything is so different here. The crazy part about the entire situation is that he never sold the stuff that he took. He gave it away… I can only pray that his life will turn for the better, and I do. Every night.
On a lighter note… I don't know that I have seen as much happiness as I have being around these beautiful people. Kids are constantly welcoming us with more excitement than I’ve ever seen, and the people express how appreciative they are for our help. Being able to work side by side with them has been one of the most humbling experiences for me. They don’t use our help as free labor; rather work with us in both physical and financial ways because they want to see their community thrive as well. They aren’t the type that are defined by their cloths, their objects, or even their religious beliefs for that matter, but each share a family like bond with one another with a genuine care, love, and devotion towards God for everything that they have. It’s truly inspiring to see. My heart is so happy every time I see a child learning, hear a welcoming “BULA”, work on a project, and hold a beautiful Fijian babe.
Fijians are truly the most beautiful people.
Anyways… I’ve experienced so much more and only wish I could go into full detail of everything, but I can’t due to time. I’m just thankful to be here. Life… it is amazing… and people… people are amazing. I know that each of us can grow immensely if we just take the time to listen to others around us. Every single person experiences life from another view, and to hear another persons story will create connections even between pure opposites. It doesn’t have to be in a third world country, or even a new place for that matter. It can be at work, at home, or anywhere you come in contact with another person. Looking for the beauty in others can and will make this world a better place. I hope and you all are doing well! Thank you to all of you that have helped me get to where I am today. I couldn’t have made it to this beautiful place without each and every single one of your sweet selves! Until next time…