The host family experience plays a really important part in the whole experience of volunteering abroad and living with a local family. You get the kind of insight into the local culture that most regular tourists don’t have the opportunity to experience. We often get reviews from our volunteers about our host families, so I thought it’d be nice to hear about it from a host Mum’s perspective. It is clear from the volunteers comments that she is a very popular host mum, so I spoke to Shabreen Abadan myself to see what she enjoys most about hosting our volunteers.
“I have been hosting Projects Abroad volunteers for about 18 months now, and have had 15 in total so far. In my house there is myself, my husband Tufel, and my 7 year old son Tashkeel who attends Mt St Mary’s Primary School. What I enjoy most about hosting volunteers is being able to welcome them as part of my family and learn about them and their cultures. I like teaching them to cook Indian food as they seem to really love the food I cook. I take them shopping and show them where to pick up a bargain! Most of all I love sharing stories with them and spending time with them, and from the moment they arrive they become a part of my family. I have made friends from all over the world and am still in touch with all of my past volunteers. I love being a host and I hope to continue doing it for many years to come. My house isn’t the same without volunteers in it!“
Shabreen with son Tashkeel and Husband Tufel.
Thanks for being such a wonderful host mum and providing our volunteers with a ‚home away from home’.
It’s the end of an era for the children and staff at Nadi Muslim School and Kindergarten. Maciek Sulek, who has been working there as a volunteer for the past 6 months, had his last day at the kindergarten on Monday. The staff and children were so sad to see him go that they arranged a big party for him as a send off. Around 150 people showed up, and the kindergarten was filled with all the parents, children and staff members.
Maciek making his speech.
They all brought in party food and drinks, and made speeches saying how much they appreciated his hard work and how much they would miss him. Maciek was also invited to say a few words, and he came away with armfuls of gifts from them! He will be sorely missed by everyone at Nadi Muslim, as well as all the volunteers, staff and the many friends he has made in his time here in Fiji.
With the Kindergarten teacher (left) and Headmaster of Nadi Muslim School (right).
I'm about to complete my first whole week in Fiji! On one hand the time has flown by whilst on the other I feel like I've been here for ages!
My host family are very kind and friendly. Lanieta (my host mum) and her husband are very generous and always ask me "Would you like your dinner now or later?". I keep telling them I don't mind, but they keep asking.. Their daughter Chantelle does a lot of the cooking and is responsible for most of the housework despite being in the equivalent of year 12!
The Nadi District School is like nowhere I've ever been before. It's laid out very similarly to state schools at home with individual buildings for each grade. I'm with Class 6 (8/9 yr olds) but I spend the afternoons with random classes as my class has Fijian reading and writing (which I'm unsurprisingly useless at). A typical day will have me teaching everything from 8am until lunch, including homework checking, maths, oral english, written english and a rotation subject of either health science, elementary science or social studies. Below is a photo of my class in their health science lesson copying down my wicked eye diagram.
To and from Suva, the fastest mode would be the local mini buses (or vans) that seat up to 9 -13 passengers and leave from each town on a fill-up basis. Fares are at a standard of FJD1.70 each way (from Nausori). They easily fill up during the peak travelling times (morning 6.30am – 8.30pm) where you will have to fight your way in to get a seat. Vans normally run throughout the evening and late at night.
Taxis are readily available around the towns at most times and are generally willing to take passengers to any location. It is important to ensure the driver puts the metre on for all rides. For rides during the day, the metre will start at $1.50 and at night, the metre will start at $2.00.
Although taxis have lights on the top (which easily identify them as taxis), whether the light is on or off has no connection to whether the cab is free or not. Taxis can be waved down on the side of the road as in the UK.
Taxi’s can also be booked (although this is not always reliable) or called for at the time (if the taxi stand has taxis available at the time of calling).
Buses are a cheap and easy way to get around costing between $0.70 - $1.40 depending on the distance. All buses start and finish in the main bus station in central Suva and Nausori. There are some express buses (those that don’t stop at every other stop) that also run between Suva and Nausori. The last bus tends to be at around 9pm in the evening.
Buses can be a great experience as most of them have no windows and music pumping as loud as a night club.
By Chinnamma Reddy
Projects Abroad Suva Coordinator
After a hard week of work, it’s nice to know that a slice of paradise is just a short bus ride away! Natadola beach is just 45 minutes south of Nadi along the Queens road, and is arguably one of the best beaches in the country. The white sand and crystal waters are extremely inviting, especially in the current sweltering temperatures. Some of our newest arrivals got to experience its beauty and tranquillity this past weekend.
Due to it’s proximity to Nadi, it’s an easy whole or half day trip. There are also a few places to stay along the bay (however not many budget options), for those wanting a quiet weekend escape.
Not much further down the Queens road in the direction of Suva, you will find Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park. The dunes cover 650 hectares, and stretch for 3km along the coastline, ending at the mouth of the Sigatoka River. It’s a popular surf spot, but also great for a non-strenuous walk enjoying the coastal views, or you can even go horse riding.
There are various modes of transport to get around town, and the relevant ones for getting to and from your accommodation and your placement will be explained and shown to you during your induction. This is an approximate price guide to help you get around. Please note that prices may be subject to change.
Buses run up and down the Queens road so if you are living in Namaka or Martintar you can take any of the buses heading in the direction of town, and they will end up at the bus station in Nadi Town. If you are heading out of town to Martintar or Namaka, you can either take the bus from the station, or from the bus stop opposite the Mobil garage (outside Mamas Pizza). Most of them will be heading up the Queens road and will probably say Airport or Lautoka (make sure you don’t get the Denarau bus!). Going to Nawaka, you can get them from the bus station. Going to Denarau, you can wait for the bus at the stop opposite Mobil, or on the other side of the bridge by the roundabaout. Buses are less frequent after about 7pm.
Nadi Town – Martintar: FJ$0.70
Nadi Town – Namaka: FJ$1.00
Martintar – Namaka: FJ$0.70
Nadi Town – Denarau: FJ$1.00
Nadi Town – Nawaka: FJ$0.70
These generally run the same routes as the buses and will stop at any bus stop. If you are getting it from the side of the road they normally flash their lights at you to say they have space, so you can then signal for them to stop. If you are in Nadi Town after the regular buses stop running, you can get a minivan to Martintar/Namaka from outside Jacks on the main street in town.
Nadi Town – Namaka/Martintar: FJ$1.00
Nadi Town – Denarau: FJ$1.00
Nadi Town – Nawaka: FJ$0.70
All taxis should run on a metre which will start at FJ$1.50. Many taxis do however claim not to have one or that it’s broken, and will try and charge a fixed price as they usually earn more that way. Always ask the driver to turn on the metre, but if there is no metre you must agree a price before you get in. Approximate prices for a Taxi without a metre are as follows:
Nadi Town – Martintar: FJ$3.00
Nadi Town – Namaka: FJ$4.00
Martintar – Namaka: FJ$3.00
Nadi Town – Denarau: FJ$7-10.00
Nadi Town – Nawaka: FJ$3.00
Sometimes you can get shared taxis, particularly up and down the Queens Road, to and from Nawaka, and sometimes to and from Denarau (if you wait on the corner by the roundabout at the end of the Denarau road). The price is almost always FJ$1, but do double check this when you get in. BEWARE, if you ask a hotel in Denarau to call you a taxi to get back to town, they will charge FJ$15. It’s better to wait at one of the bus stops there until something comes by.
PS. The Suva transport guide will follow shortly.
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