Returning to Nakavika gave me a chance to see what developed without support from the outside, especially since a big income-generating business left the area. The students had the same lack of confidence in their English skills. The youth group was still in the planning stage of the same Internet center. Vita's daughter wasn't in school for nursing, as was the plan when I left, and was instead living in Suva with a family friend, working to earn money for her entire family.
These weren't just my silent observations but points many people pulled me aside to make. Read More
One little boy lifted the silver bowl of chicken heads to receive its next occupant, and I snapped out of my time-traveling thoughts. I stood up and returned to Vita's house to find that the iPad had locked away its contents from the curious kids indoors. When I unlocked the iPad, I found the following paragraph, scribed by Samu:
“This is for you, Lindsay.” Waisale stood at the top of one rock wall, arms folded, and stepped forward into the air. I photographed his rapid descent and felt my stomach uncurl of worry. Before, I feared that suddenly departing their lives without explanation would sever ties or permanently damage our connection to the kids. These fears dissolved by the time Waisale resurfaced from the bottom of the gorge.
One side of the sky was navy blue and brilliant with stars and a succulent moon; the other side hinted at the curvature of the globe with shades of pink. The dew making my feet squeak in my flip-flops mirrored the moisture on my eyelids. There wasn't a wavering thought in our minds about returning to the village, so this morning absolutely marked an end. Knocking on a few doors at dawn, we came across the home where little Weiss was sleeping. It would have been impossible to take our final carrier ride without saying goodbye to our dear friend and favored student of 2.5 months. We hugged him and asked him to tell the other kids we say goodbye and will miss them. He nodded his heavy head, instantly taking the form of an older, mature being with wise eyes that see the realities of a world he can't change. Read More
Last I left the tales of this Fijian adventure, there was a major event that happened - one which led us to doubt the possibility of our project coming to be. After issues were resolved (in the eyes of the elders), we asked the Turaga ni Koro (village spokesman) to hook us up with a ride down to the coast for a few days. We needed some space to figure out what to do. Read More
Our rosy-nose expectations of the twelve days of Christmas made the final week leading up to the big day a little anticlimactic. How do we prepare for the event? What's going to happen? The rest of the villagers were jolly as ranchers but had no advice for us on how to infuse ourselves in the mix...aside from purchasing four sugar sweets and three Fijian hens for every child in town. We learned quickly that the children didn't know of Santa, nor did they receive presents for the occasion. Read More
The aftermath of Cyclone Mick kept the skies gray and misty for the following three days. Nearby villages sent word of their damages; Nakavika was one of the luckier communities, thanks to their relocation. For decades, Nakavika sat in a nook of a river bend, level with the mighty Luva, until the mid 1950s when a massive storm flooded the entire inhabited plain. The new location had me feeling quite safe - surrounded by the cover of mountains, sitting above the ravines, and relatively out of the bush. Normally Nakavika was a sunny, colorful paradise (forget the swarms of flies), but this week, it presented its difficulties by the bucket load. Read More