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A Journey of Volunteering in Fiji

A Journey of Volunteering in Fiji

We are always excited to discover inspiring stories involving young individuals!

This blog post is from Benjamin, who volunteered in Fiji and is in support of Volunteers’ Week.

About Me

My name is Benjamin Kosza, and I am a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Westminster. Last summer, the Jack Petchey foundation awarded me a grant to fund an overseas volunteering experience on the other side of the world – in Fiji! In this blog I would like to tell you guys my story, and hopefully encourage you guys to volunteer too!

I took part in a 1-month Youth Empowerment for the Fijian youth, ages 18-35, with an organisation called Think Pacific. This experience took place in the remote Fijian village of Koronisagana, which lies in the province of Nadroga Navosa, just besides Sigatoka River. The programme covered 6 different topics including: mental health, public health, sports development, leadership, enterprise, and the environment.

The Volunteering Experience

The programme began with a 3-day briefing in a resort, which gave us volunteers the time to get to know each other before getting thrown into a rural Fijian village. Before the project, I was more nervous than I ever have been; however, my nerves quickly went away, as soon as I realised that I was surrounded by 29 of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

After the briefing had finished, we took a 3-hour bus ride to the village of Koronisagana, which is home to 65 families. When we arrived, we were welcomed with a traditional Fijian ceremony and were introduced to the Fijian families that adopted us for the next 3 and a half weeks. We were all extremely nervous, but they made us feel welcome and made us feel at home in their village throughout the entirety of our stay. What I felt in that moment is honestly impossible to put into words, but I would describe it as the most wholesome moment of my life.

For the next 3 and a half weeks, we organised interactive morning workshops and did our best to adapt them to the Fijian youth and their interests. Since there was a significant language barrier, we included as many interactive activities as possible, to make sure that everyone could participate and benefit from the experience equally. These activities included: sports games, small discussion groups to find solutions for some of the problems they face and also acting out different scenarios to mitigate these problems.

In return, the Fijian youth organised an afternoon Culture Course, where they would teach us about their culture, traditions, customs and way of life. In these daily 2-hour sessions, they would tell us about their history, their rituals and ceremonies, and also teach us how to make some of their traditional dishes. This was without a doubt one of the many highlights of the programme, and it was very wholesome to connect with the youth through their own culture!

We spent the weekends doing fun activities such as building bamboo rafts and going on cave tours, waterfall hikes and fishing. Saturdays were always days full of love, fun and laughter and allowed us to spend more time with our families and friends. On Sundays, we would go to church in the morning with our families and that would take up the whole morning. After church, we would spend the the day at home with our families resting and preparing for the week ahead of us.

During our stay, we got really close with our families and the village in general, and our last few days were heart-breaking for all of us. Throughout the project, I would occasionally say “I wish I could stay here forever” and it’s true. Fiji and its people taught me a lot of things. They taught me that most of the time our problems aren’t as bad as they seem, and that we should always face life with a positive attitude. They taught me that you don’t need money to be happy. They taught me that we should enjoy the little things in life and make the most of every moment whilst it lasts. And finally, they taught me how to love. Vinaka Vakalevu Viti!

Volunteering with Think Pacific in Fiji was a life-changing experience for me, and I would 100% recommend it to anyone that is willing to learn about a new culture and experience life from another perspective. If anyone is interested in their programmes, you have the link here.

Finally, I would like to thank the Jack Petchey Foundation for awarding me a grant and contributing to the funding of this unforgettable experience. It was hands down the best experience of my life and I learnt so many life lessons along the way. This wouldn’t have been possible without them, and I cannot thank them enough for their support!

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