One of the family’s elder sons, Jack, is a keen fisherman. He went diving last night with his harpoon gun and caught this magnificent bunch! He lives over on the small island of Susui, about a 20 minute boat ride away.
After exploring parts of Fiji, getting rained in during flooding caused by Cyclone Zena, renting a dodgy old car, sourcing and buying all the supplies for the school and a 30 hour boat ride, we made it to Vanua Balavu. It was around 1am and raining (of course) when the ship docked in. We walked through the down pour in the pitch black, being led by children through thick and slippery mud. We arrived at a small house and entered a large room with the family sitting crossed-legged on the floor (we would soon learn this is how Fijians sit for dinner and relaxing, no furniture). We ate some much needed potato curry and fell into our comfy beds.
We’d made it.
We were slightly worried before arriving about where we would stay. Many people are now living in tents after losing their houses and we didn’t want to take anyone’s bed. Fortunately, we have been placed with an extremely kind and welcoming family. The father, Joeli had built an entire new room on the side of his house and some beds for us, he used materials from some of the houses wrecked in Cyclone Winston.
The mother, Ana, is a great cook and manages to feed us delicious food despite that fact that many of the crops on the island were ruined during Winston. We have rice with every meal. Many different curries and dahl. Yams, potatoes and taro. We also have tried land crab, caught at night, pork, hunted on the island and for one meal we had two of the families’ chickens which were slaughtered hours before being served. Plucked by the daughters Selina (13) and Maria (7). Their sister Sera (4) completes the family.
The rain which we were greeted by on our arrival continued for 2 days solid, meaning church on Sunday and school on Monday were cancelled. We enjoyed spending time with the family, learning some Fijian and watching pirated DVD’s of American Idol from 2009, whilst lying on the floor. There is power when the generator is on.
The village of Lomaloma looks a little messy at the moment, bits of corrugated iron and wood lie in piles, half-houses stand eerily in the wind. The destruction seems random as some houses weren’t affected at all right next to ones which collapsed completely. We were shown photos of the village before the cyclone, it was picturesque, neat and even had street lights! But, despite the destruction, the spirit of the village remains; people are happy, different families share things with each other freely and care for each other.
Island life is slow and laid back. It partly feels as if we have gone back in time but with the odd electric device thrown in. We love it. We’re so happy to have been placed with such a generous family and feel very much at home already. We’re looking forward to giving the supplies to the school and starting our work there.