Monday, June 11, 2012

The Final Countdown

Hello All,

I am running out of time in both Fiji and in the internet cafe where I am now typing this post.  I promised some pictures from the computers everyone helped provide the Wailevu West Primary School.  Overall we managed to raise 5,570 FJD or about 3,100 USD.  With that so far what has been purchased is:

1 Projector (1,400 FJD)
2 Computers and 1 Printer (3,200 FJD)
1 Battery Backup for Generator Use (250 FJD)
Cords and Powerstrips (50 FJD)
Transport (100 FJD)

After all that we still have about 500 FJD left over to spend that I am going to work with the teachers to try and figure out what else they will need for the school.  It also may just go to maintenance, paper, and ink for the printer.  Thank you all again for the help and I might just get one more post before we leave.

The Head Teacher and Assistant Head Teacher accepting the gifts in our  mini computer lab.

Some of the kids learning the very basics of using computers.  How to turn them on and use the cursor.

Kids watching some animal videos on the computers.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thank You One and All

   I want to give a very big thank you to all who helped us raise money for computers for our local school here at Wailevu West Primary School.  With your help we managed to raise over 3,000 USD.  With that money I recently had a meeting with the teachers and we plan on buying two computers and one projector for the school to use.  It is our hope that it will be the introduction for the children to computers and allow the teachers to better teach the children with the use of visual and media aids.  Once we get the computers and the projector hopefully I will be able to put a bunch of pictures up here for everyone to see.  Thank You again

   In other news it has been awhile since we posted on this blog and I am not even sure if anyone really ever reads this thing any more, due to the lack of material not the quality of course.   Since the end of December we have had my father come visit, a camera break, a trip to Tavueni and our Close of Service Conference.  We continue to do many of the things we have talked about in the past.  I lead the local Environment Club at our school, I still teach the children of our village once a week in a computer class, and Alyssa and I both run the local educational club for the kids in Natuvu every Saturday.  Alyssa continues to work with the village health workers and the health centre on issues and goes to local check-ups to help the doctor and talk about the importance of exercise and diet to help stop non-communicable diseases and has been teaching a bunch of aerobic classes around the area.  She also next week will be leading a knitting workshop for the women in our village, which she has already done once in the village of Dawasomo down in Viti Levu with her friend and fellow Peace Corps volunteer Marie.  I also got a chance to go to a Investment Fiji Seminar with my village chief and mayor, which was a great chance for them to learn about exports and business in Fiji.  When my father came back in March we managed to organize some of the villagers and built a bus shelter for the village.  One of the things that is a big pain here is the village is about 2/3 a mile from the road where you get on the bus, so it is great now to have something to hide under if it is raining or from the hot sun.

  Finally we have decided what we will be doing after our time here.  We both were accepted as Peace Corps Fellows at Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL.  I will be working to earn my Master's Degree in Public Administration while Alyssa will be earning hers in Public Health Education.  The Fellowship basically is a way for us to earn our degrees while also getting real experience in our respective fields and not having the huge debt that goes with going to a College/University.  It is one year in the classroom followed by a one year internship.  It is great to know that we have another two years of our life planned out and I am really excited to begin the course work, I really like this two year scheme we have going.

  Finally we learned at our COS conference that we will be coming home on July 1st.  In fact we are working on booking the flights today as we write this.  Stay tuned I think I will actually post again within the month if all goes as planned(SHOCKING!).
Alyssa with her Program Manager at the Close of Service Conference.  She is presenting her with a photo collage she helped prepare.
My Father building the bus stand with some of the villagers. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

Ok, well actually Happy New Year's and Merry Christmas but in all the British Commonwealths they also celebrate Boxing Day on the 26th of December.  What and why is Boxing Day a holiday?  Presently it's a day basically for banks and stores to get an extra day off and for people to go shopping much like our day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., but before it was a day where the wealthy would give a box of goods (clothing or other such items) to their servants or those people in need.  Why do you need to know all this?  You don't but I just wanted to know myself so I figured I would share.
 Things in the village continue to go as normal we had a wonderful Thanksgiving, getting to meet up with all the volunteers in Savusavu for a couple nights.

(from left to right: Me, Monica, Bubba, David, Greta, and Milli) Hanging out on the porch at Daku Resort near Savusavu for Thanksgiving.
  Alyssa conducted a Young Women's Empowerment Day (I think that was the title), that went really well.  It basically gave the girls in our village ages 14-25 a chance to get together and have a day for themselves.  Alyssa taught them about exercise and ways to they can workout in the village, tips on healthy cooking, I conducted a short class on money management, and then they all got a chance to make their own bracelets and play volleyball.  They all seemed to have a really good time and Alyssa did a great job planning and running the day pretty much on her own.
Alyssa leading the group exercise in the community hall.

Eating lunch at our house.  On the menu; dahl with rice and juice

Manasa and Myself helping run the financial management training in the hall
I finished writing a business plan for the fish/prawn pond that the village wants near the school that is on their land.  Some of you may know that I had been working on it quite a bit when Alyssa and I first got to site but do to logistical problems and lack of motivation, the project never really went anywhere.  Well I decided to write a business plan for something tangible that shows I actually did spend quite a bit of my time here working on it.  The picture below gives an idea of what the fish pond would look like and the size.  It is a integrated pond, meaning it would use duck manure to create plankton growth in the pond to feed the fish.  I am planning to give a copy to the Ministry of Fisheries and Natuvu village and maybe someday something will come out of it but if not like I said I at least have something to show for the work.

As for our Christmas and New Year's we got the chance or maybe we created the chance to go to New Zealand.  It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and had a great time there.  We spent 12 nights there all together spending 10 nights on the southern island and the our final two nights at the capitol of Wellington.

Canterbury Museum in Christchurch

Franz Josef Glacier

Queenstown; view from our Gandola Trip

Our Kayaking Trip in Milford Sound
Mirror Lake in Fjordland National Park
Finally once we returned form there we headed to Funky Fish Resort for New Year's on Malolo island to spend it with some of the Peace Corps Volunteers
New Year's Night
P.S. Alyssa hates it when you place snakes on her shoulder!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back Home Again

The Fiji vacation with my parents has come and gone but it was a fantastic time!  We went on a zipline (my mom had the best time!), visited a few park reserves/historic sites, went to the Fiji museum and visited a village composed entirely of traditional Fijian thatched houses.  For meals, we ate good pizza/lasagna, Indian and food from the grocery store/market.  After about a week away from home, we all headed back to the village for a few days.  My parents and I had a special program for the kids in the village.  The kids got to learn how to make easy American foods (like Mac-n-Cheese) and then eat the food (my mom brought some stuff along on the trip for this purpose).  On Sunday, we all went to church (in Fijian), I bought my parents traditional cloths to wear, my dad and Matt drank yaqona (kava) and my friends brought us over a nice breakfast (Fijian pie and pudding cake) and lunch (fresh fish, dalo, cooked greens and chicken from the village).  We spent a couple of days in Savusavu and my parents agreed with us that its the prettiest town in Fiji. :)  It's been raining really heavily the past few days, but we were fortunate to have beautiful weather while they were here. Bye for now! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Visit From Minnesota!

Matt and I are preparing for my parents to arrive this Saturday- yeah!  We are going to take a ferry boat down to the main island (it leaves at 7 pm and arrives at 5 am) and then take a bus to meet them from there (a 4 hour ride).  It will take a lot longer to arrive but will cost us about 1/6 the price!  Plus, we'll get a couple of days just to hang out in the city (there's only one ferry boat this week, so we have to go early).

Last week, I was gone from Monday to Saturday at a woman's skill building workshop in a nearby village.  I wasn't expecting to teach anything but at the last minute I ended up teaching knitting and how to make virgin coconut oil (or as everyone here calls it- virgin oil).  Also, I ended up giving a lesson on healthy eating and led a fitness walk.  In Fiji, 82% of deaths are caused by non-communicable diseases and there is a huge problem with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc (just like in America).  Maybe it was a bit morbid, but I had all the participants close there eyes and picture 10 loved ones.  Then I had them choose 8 of those people.  Next, I informed them that they all had died.  Kind of mean, huh?!

Matt is still the gardening champion.  He goes up to the school 1 or 2 days per week and teaches the kids about vegetable gardening and taking care of the environment.  Also, his garden in the village is producing TONS of vegetables right now.  There's two types of cabbage, beans, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.  On top of that, people from the village have been giving us bananas (which Matt often goes with to pick), papayas, dalo, fish and vivili (the inside of sea shells!), so we've had lots of local foods lately.

In other news, Matt and I have been trying to start teaching people around here how to use computers.  Matt will start teaching the older children (middle school age) at our house after my parents leave.  I have started to teach two of my friends how to use the computers in town.  I showed them how to use the internet one day and one of them how to type another day.  Obviously, they will need more than two lessons but its a start!

Matt and I are really looking forward to my parents visit.  We will spend a week on the main island and I intend to pretend that I am a tourist (wearing shorts, not talking about Peace Corps, using hot showers)- LOL!  We will then fly back up to Vanua Levu and spend about a week in the village/Savusavu.  We have a special kids club planned with my parents where the kids will make American snacks and then we'll have a little party at the end where they get to eat what they've made.  Also, my good friends will be making my parents meals on Sunday, so they'll get to have Fijian pie, fish, coconut milk, dalo, Fijian greens (bele, roro) and 'village' chicken (ie one of the chickens from Natuvu).

There are other things going on but those are the interesting ones.  So long for now and many happy wishes to our friends and family back in America- especially those just getting married and having babies!  Bye bye!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Matt's Birthday

Matt just had his birthday last weekend and a gang of volunteers from 'the north' got together to celebrate.  We stayed at a campground outside of Savusavu and it was a great time!  The owner of the campground only charged around $15 per person per night and she cooked us a really nice steak dinner our first night there!  We also walked over to a nearby resort and used their pool (for free- we just bought some snacks at the restaurant to make up for it).  Enjoy the few pictures that I put up!  Bye for now!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's been a while...

Greetings!  (Alyssa writing here)

I just realized that our last post was 1.5 months ago.  Oops!  Well, a brief overview of what we've been up to:

-We went to Nadi for our Mid Service Training (MST) in August.  That means we're over half done!  In Nadi, we ate really good pizza at "Mama's Pizza" and I had good Indian food at "Sitar."
-After Nadi, I went over to Suva for a few days.  I marched in the Hibiscus Festival Parade (for the Peace Corps float) and then headed to a workshop on health promotion in the schools.  The assistant head teacher from our local school attended with me.
-Matt spent a few days in Suva prior to MST, because he hadn't yet done his mandatory mid-year doctors visit.  So, he got lucky and was able to hang around the city for a few days.
-Matt's garden is growing again and we have a bunch of green beans.
-Our village is SUPER QUIET (and extra boring) because a lot of young men are gone cutting sugar cane.
-Last month, I help organize a village clean up day and it was a success.  I put up a few pictures below.
-Our anniversary and b-days are all coming up in the next couple of months and my parents are visiting at the end of October- yeah!

Sending my love to America (loloma),

Putting rubbish in the pit.

Cutting the grass the usual way (no really!).

Sweet gloves!

Prizes for the winners.