During this humanitarian mission in Fiji, several things surprised me, espacially about the country, my host family and and the school.
- The country
The first point that surprised me was the poverty in the Fiji Islands. When we hear « Fiji » we always think about the beautiful sandy beach and the clear water, but not about the real Fijian life wich is quite poor. I didn’t expect that. I had the chance to discover the « real » Fiji that means the real life there, far from the islands where all the tourists are.
The country, the cities, the buses, the shops, everything is old, I had the impression to live in the « past ». I was really surprised about that, this is a real time lag compared to France and even the rest of the world.
The Fiji is still a macho society where the wife sits home, takes care of the children and keeps the house clean. Most of the women don’t work, it’s the men that work and bring money to home.
Last point, I was really surprised to discover that a half of the Fijian people is Indian, so they talk in indian, not in Fijian, they eat indian food and their religion is the Hindou (Most of the Fijian are christian). Sometimes we can notice a sort of « rivality » between Fijian and Indian people.
- The host family
It’s really common in Fiji that the grand parents live in the same house that the children, so in general there are many people in a house. In my host family we were 10 in the house.
For three months, I ate Indian food that is really spicy and not diversified. It was hard for me and the other volunteers to eat almost everyday the same food wich means rice and curry.
The house where 10 people live is not comfortable, there are only 4 bedrooms so one or two people slept on the floor in the living room. Futhermore, we had to share one toilet and one shower for everybody, that is not easy everyday.
- The school
The first thing that I oberved: the number of students in each class !! In general, there are between 35 and 50 children in one class, that’s a lot for me because in France we are around 25-30 in each class.
Another thing is the physical punishment that are used in almost every classes. I was shocked to see that and I don’t agree these methods.
Most of time, every year, all the children from one class go up in level soi t makes some considerable differences in term of study level between the children of one class. Only a few children will be able to go to the university.
Lastly, at school there is a big difference between the boys and the girls. Each morning, the girls sweep the floor of the classroom with brooms while the boys are waiting outside. At school the girls are educated to not show their bodies to the men, that’s why they have to wear as a uniform a long dress that covers their shoulders and their knees.
Boys and girls learn that they are not allowed to touch each other. Of course and fortunately they don’t follow this rule and play together. During the science class, they learn that they have to take a shower everyday, or brush their teeth two times a day. These topics are of course acquired in our country so it was odd for me.