Monday, August 3, 2009

Still on an island far from you

I have been asked to be project lead over adobe stoves and women’s groups. The women’s groups have always been an interest to me because I find it very important to empower the women here. The Fijian and Indo-Fijian women have been somewhat emancipated from their traditional subordinate lifestyles, but many still suffer. For many women they have enjoyed taking a break from their daily rituals but some still find it hard to escape their many responsibilities. For those that come to listen, the lesson’s focus on all aspects of health (spiritual, mental, physical, emotional and intellectual). Last week I was excited teach one of our women’s group a lesson about physical activity and end it with aerobics. My American counterparts loved the workout but unfortunately only one Fijian was able to enjoy it too, which seemed arbitrary to the excitement the Fijians had the prior week. So, we are attempting the lesson again this week in hope it’s successful!

The stoves involve a lot of manual labor and we hope the Fijians are willing to work hard every time we come. The Fijians are in charge of getting clay from the river bed, sand, banana stock and rebar. We provide them a frame and a chimney for the smoke to escape. Both of those items can be made or paid for by the locals when we can’t provide it after we leave.

We have a lot of stoves to build, hopefully just oversee, before we leave in 2 ½ weeks. Our hope is to educate as many villagers about the process of making adobe stoves, which will one day lead to the abolishment of all open fires in Fiji. Okay, that probably won’t be happening any time soon or ever, but we are making improvements in at least some individuals or family’s lives. We had a reminder from our country director last night that we, as volunteers, can’t walk away frustrated because it is so difficult to see the change we are making. I may never see any result from the hard work we’ve done but hopefully we’ve planted a seed that will soon start to blossom.

This last weekend I planned a vacation trip with the new volunteers to whitewater river raft the Upper Navua River which has been nominated, as so our tour guide says, as one of the most beautiful river rafting trips in the world. I am not going to lie and I will probably have to just show you pictures, but the narrow canyon river was shrouded in lush rainforest fed by countless waterfalls. Supposedly, you can just watch the movie Anaconda to see what we experienced. And then you will also understand why we never wanted to fall out of the raft.

We spent the rest of our weekend in the capital Suva where we visited the Fijian museum (gotta love the fact that cannibalism only ended a little over 100 years ago, luckily only a few Fijians have asked, but not acted upon, about eating me). After being complimented a thousand times as a business tactic, we contributed to the Fijian economy by walking out of the local handicraft market with things we (or the people we give them to) will probably never use. We finished the evening by partying with Indians as we watched a real Bollywood movie. If you haven’t seen one of these movies, I highly recommend you see (a good) one. You, like me, might be lucky enough to pick up some new dance moves. Unlike me, the Indians were inhibited to be doing these moves as they walked out of the theatre. Remind me to show you when I get home : )