In August 2017, I embarked on my first solo adventure. No one to hold my hand if I got scared. I was completely on my own.
Let’s start at the beginning shall we?
When I first heard about Vesabroad I never imagined I would be able to afford to go on any of their volunteering trips. They offer volunteering opportunities in Ecuador, Africa, South Asia and Fiji. As soon as I saw Fiji, I knew that was where I wanted to go.
I signed up for it without looking back or thinking twice because I knew I was being given a bursary from my university. I know the bursary is supposed to go towards my cost of living away from home, but I decided I was going to use it to volunteer abroad, and help people that are less fortunate than myself.
The first week involved refurbishing a school and put a roof on the toilet block, so that the children from the local villages can have a better quality education and can use the bathroom facilities during their wet season without getting soaked. First we had to rub down every single wall throughout the building and let me tell you, it was not frikin easy, my arms ached so so much after doing that for 3 days!!
We then painted inside every room and the outside of the building and it looks bloody fab once it was all done! It was a massive achievement for me because I had been dealing with mental health issues so for me to go away on my own and work alongside people that I had never met before AND help people who are less fortunate than myself was a big deal. Now I think about it I really don’t give myself enough credit in life.
During the entire week, Im not gonna lie to you, I wanted to go home and Im so annoyed that I felt like that because I wanted to enjoy living with a Fijian family to the full extent. But the reality was that my depression was real bad, I had that little devil whispering in my ear that I was a crappy person and Im not good at anything and I didn’t want to admit this, but i’d never worked so bloody hard in my life. I felt EXHAUSTED after every single day and I know that makes me sound so privileged but I honestly hadn’t, you don’t know what hard work is until your working out in 40 degree dry heat for 9 hours a day for 7 days.
I definitely have learnt to appreciate the life that I live and what I have, because so many people all over the world have it so much harder than most of us and you just don’t realise it until you experience it and see it with your own eyes.
The day we left the village was heartbreaking. Even though I was happy to be going to somewhere where I could have a hot shower and not have to pore a bowl of cold water over my head and I would no longer have to eat boiled fish and boiled chicken It was still sad because we had all grown so close to the villagers.
They organised a goodbye ceremony where we danced, drank kava (I didn’t because its vile), said thank you to our families and the villagers for having us and cried because even though I disliked it at the beginning, I didn’t want to leave so soon. Also cried because I had to say goodbye to the stray dog that I had created a bond with whilst living in the village. She was gorgeous and kind and such a loving dog. Still upsets me to this day that I had to leave her behind.
The second week we went Island hopping and we went and stayed on four different Islands, doing different activities each day and overall just relaxing in the Fijian sun (which was HOT btw).
Another accomplishment for me was swimming, being able to stay above water when I couldn’t touch the ground. Im not a very good swimmer so when I found out that we would be jumping into a cave I freaked but I was not going to bail out of doing it. I’d flown 25 hours, across the world, I was doing everything! When I got to the platform ready to jump off, I was absolutely shitting my pants but I did it! and even managed not to drown so yay me. It was actually amazing and I really wanna do more stuff like that. Id especially like to go scuba diving, which was an option during the trip but I didn’t have enough money. Sad times. I feel like my fear of things really does hold me back a lot of the time, and also funds hold me back. Wish I had an unlimited budget.
The whole experience was incredible and I made some amazing friends whilst I was out there who I still talk to now and most of all I found my passion. My passion for travelling and helping the less fortunate, I just hope that one day I can carry on travelling and volunteering and for anyone thinking of going and volunteering in another country. DO IT! Don’t hold back because it is truly worth it!