29 September 2010

Fiji: Village Life

Aside from the beautiful beaches, aqua water, and endless coral, Fiji is also known for being home to the friendliest people in the world. After meeting the staff and villagers of Qamea, I can assure you that this is not an understatement. The staff was always eager to do whatever they could to make your stay perfect, and they always did it with a smile and a friendly "Bula!" (Hello in Fijian - after learning "hello", "thank you", and a few other basics, I have now added Fijian to my list of languages that I speak.) They immediately welcome you and treat guests as family members or close friends.

We were also amazed by the villagers' kind hearts, welcoming nature, and humble demeanor. They shared their traditions with us, invited us to celebrate with them in their ritual cava ceremony, and showed us where they live. After one visit to the village and seeing how they live, Husband and I felt we had to help in some way. Our next visit, we brought candy and clothing for the children and had so much fun hanging out their presents to the children. I instantly was drawn to one little girl who warmed my heart with her sweet smile and shy wave. After seeing her in her village twice and her visit to the resort to dance in the Meke ceremony, we became friends. The day before we were leaving the resort, I said goodbye to my little Filo and gave her a big hug. Tears in my eyes as we walked back to our boat, she came running over to me and gave me the shell necklace she was wearing. I was overwhelmed by this sweet gesture, as she was willing to give me her necklace when she has so little and we have so much more. I know that I will never forget my little Filo, and I can only hope that I touched her life with warmth and love in some way. A package is en route to Fiji for her now with a framed photo of the two of us, a card, and a princess Barbie doll from America. I know that it may take months for it to arrive, but I cannot wait for the day when she receives her special package. Welcome to Chief Dan's village in photos!

Beautiful little Filo (wearing the shell necklace)! Aren't they precious?

Just monkeying around.

Our arrival to the village.

Arriving at the Church on Sunday morning for the village services... their Church was destroyed in a cyclone in the Spring, so this building is used for school and worship now.

Look at my little Filo shake it! Meke dancing on Friday night - such fun!They luuuurved to pose for the camera - so stinkin' cute! The adorable children playing outside.

Looking down on the village from above.
A typical village home.
The common meeting room where they welcomed their guests, singing and serving us cava, tea, and casava chips.
I know Husband and I will never forget our glimpse into Fijian life and the impact they had on us. Sending love to our Fijian friends!