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Beautiful Nadi   (published in Fiji)

August 3, 2010 by   Comments(0)


Time is flying by and it's hard to believe that I have been in Fiji over six weeks already.  July is behind us, one 2 Week Special is over, the second is in full swing and the winter season is coming to an end - each day is warmer than the last and the days are getting longer.  The short term summer-holiday volunteers are less and less, and most of the people arriving here are staying for longer periods of time. 

And me, I'm slowly getting used to Fiji-Time and not letting general lateness of everything frustrate me :P!! Things happen when they happen, and life is relaxed!

I'm guessing that 'beautiful' is not the word usually used to describe Nadi... the big concrete road cutting through the entire city, the rutsy buses spewing black smoke, the sometimes ugly buildings crowded together on the street sides, do not altogether paint a pretty picture...

But the longer I'm here, the more of a chance I get to look past beyond the grey road, and through the black smoke at the natural beauty which sits just past the uninspiring architecture.  Past the airport in the north lies a large mountain range - green hills standing tall against the blue sky.  This is is surrounded by lush, ripe flora and fauna, wild, tropical flowers palm trees, papaya plants.  As you head south you can see a sprawling of residential houses, mainly bungalows in brilliant colors with abundant gardens. There is plenty of green everywhere.

Turn off the main road at almost any junction and in a short time you are in the midst of a Fijian village.  Small houses gathered together, laundry lines carrying baby clothes, shrines to the Hindu Gods - the red fags raised high above the roofs, dirt roads, coconuts.

Wailoaloa Beach, the closest beach to Nadi, is, by ...

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Beautiful Nadi
Beautiful Nadi

ARYABALA TEMPLE   (published in Mongolia)

August 3, 2010 by   Comments(0)

I have been to the Aryapala Initiation and Meditation Monastery in Terelj National Park four times. Like a really good movie, it seems that every time I go I see something new. Instead of feeling like I am sight-seeing, though, my trips gradually feel more and more like pilgrimages to a foundation of my beliefs.

            This monastery is perched up against a mountainside at the end of a valley. It is separated from the world by a rickety wooden bridge meant to purify the comers and goers (and presumably to test their courage and will to set foot on it!). The monastery is meant to be a place where monks come for years at a time to meditate, but I’ve never seen anyone in “monk clothes” there. So, currently the only resident is a sweet old man who enjoys saying the word “mouse!” when people notice the handles to the monastery doors (wooden mice). The first thing I notice on the way up to the monastery is the fragrant smell of Siberian herbs. They sweeten the inexhaustible breeze and fill it with strange scents that are unique to this place. The seasons for different flowers are so short here that return trips usually show completely different array of colours.

            Once I have weaved my way through the fluttering poplar saplings, I find myself at the wooden bridge and a sign in Mongolian that states the four person weight limit. Although no one in our group originally noticed the sign, none of us was willing to test the bridge with more than four people anyway. Looking down at the bridge as you cross the bridge can be even more frightening than the first impression. You will notice that there are boards coming up, nails ...

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New Palapa built by the 2-week special volunteers!   (published in Mexico)

August 2, 2010 by   Comments(0)

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Another day of activities arrived in the turtle camp! This time, the volunteers were due to start building a new palapa!

In the first week, the 2-week special volunteers started this important contribution for our biological station in Mexico. The weather was hot but nobody minded it that much as we were really busy with the construction materials!

This palapa will be an important addition to our conservation camp as it will be used to shelter new tents, as warehouse or class room. This is when the hands of all the volunteers are really needed. Each stone, wall or palm tree will be a great contribution from all of them.

Thanks to the guys who put so much effort to build the base of this new papala!

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New Palapa built by the 2-week special volunteers!
New Palapa built by the 2-week special volunteers!

Container donation from the German company “Hamburg Süd"   (published in South Africa)

August 2, 2010 by   Comments(0)

My name is Sebastian Mader and I'm from Rostock, Germany. From April to July 2010 I was in the project "Where Rainbows Meet" in Vrygrond, Cape Town.  My placement involved working in small business development with the residents of the township. In addition to teaching workshops on business administration, the creation of promotional material for small businesses and consulting businesses, my tasks were to work in the office of the organization. In the office our daily work included the organization of events, editing, promotion and coordination of donations of the workshops.

(Above: Sebastian helping in the office of Where Rainbows Meet)

"Where Rainbows Meet" has to raise its own funds and we could quickly see where help was needed. The current childen’s nursery, a 2.5 x 6 meter overseas shipping container, was very damaged by the weather. My idea was to procure a new container for the project.

I searched the webpage of one of the largest German shipping companies, and wrote an email to the board. Initially, I merely wanted to arrange a telephone interview to discuss my idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive a reply to the mail, and I was sure that my mail had gone into the trash. But three weeks later the answer came with the positive response that Hamburg Süd would provide a container for us. A 12.5 meter-long container was donated, which was transported to and placed in our yard. Thanks to the assistance of Projects Abroad, the truck with the new container arrived on June 6th, bringing a new piece of hope to Vrygrond.  

For all those volunteers also looking to contribute to their projects, I can only say that it is a very good feeling when the work is done. The heartfelt joy of all the members of the Rainbow family is really ...

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Container donation from the German company “Hamburg Süd"
Container donation from the German company “Hamburg Süd"

Komfo Anokye Sword   (published in Ghana)

August 1, 2010 by   Comments(19)

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              Being the most powerful empire in West Africa during the 18th century, the Ashanti have a lot of history and the Komfo Anokye sword is one of them.

              Okomfo Anokye was an Ashanti priest in the 17th century, and although he was a historical figure, the people have turned him into a hero who had supernatural powers. Okomfo Anokye founded the Empire of Ashanti alongside King Osei Tutu I. The guide told me that the King and Okomfo Anokye organised 11 divisional chiefs in the Ashanti Empire, and parts of their finger nails and hair were burnt and buried and was marked by Okomfo Anokye by planting a sword on the spot. He said that if anyone were to remove the sword, then that will mark the end of the Ashanti Empire. The mythological story goes on the say that he conjured the ‘Golden Stool’ from the sky.

The Golden Stool is a mark of unity for the Ashanti and is actually a physical object that exists today. No one except the king and his trusted advisors know where it is. It is brought out during the Akwasidae festival. The Ashanti have never lost the stool. In 1896, they even allowed their king, Prempeh I, to be deported rather than lose the stool. It is considered to be so sacred that not even the king is allowed to sit on it. In 1900, after a British governor in Ghana demanded to sit on the Golden Stool, war broke out. The Ashanti eventually lost the war, but it was a victory for them because they never lost the stool.

The sword is now located just outside the C ward in the Komfo Anokye Hospital, named after Okomfo Nokye. The sword has been on that same spot since 1667 and no one has been able to ...

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Komfo Anokye Sword
Komfo Anokye Sword

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