A team from Home has recently returned from a build trip to Fiji, where they were fortunate to see firsthand the impact of our home-for-a-home partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Members of the team here at Home, reflect on the trip:

We spent the week in Dratabu Village, 6.4km from Nadi town. Home to approximately 1,000 people, Dratabu is prone to flooding and is typically hit hard when the cyclone season rears its head each year. To help protect themselves locals have started forming a new settlement on higher ground, and this is where our build took place.

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Our partner family for this build was Mele and Illisoni and their three children, Mereani, Taravaini, and Soni. The family currently lives in a shelter made of wood and tin with no electricity. Parents Mele and Illisoni sleep on the floor each night, the three children share a bunk bed, and they all share communal bathroom facilities. What was meant to be a temporary shelter has now been their home for more than five years.

Our focus for this build was ensuring the new structure will withstand the annual wrath of the cyclone season. We endured stifling temperatures throughout the five day build, with the 30-degree-plus heat making hard work feel even harder. Despite this, there were plenty of jokes and songs shared between our team and the locals who helped us, and some lively banter about the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

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When a rain storm hit mid-build, we had the opportunity to visit the village school and donate some much needed stationary for them. It was wonderful to meet more of the local community and we were treated to some wonderfully heartfelt? singing by the students - thank you.

Fast forward a couple of days and as the countdown to completion approaches, celebration is in the air. Relatives and neighbours come to admire Mele and Illisoni’s new home and take countless photos on their phones, and the children scamper about excitedly.

Our final day in Dratabu village is one of celebration. Mele and Illisoni’s new home is dedicated by the local minister and we are welcomed into the customary kava ceremony. As a team, we name their home Vuvale, the Fijian word for home as a little memento of the team that built it.

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As the children play outside, community elders speak about how these homes are a dream come true. Voices are thick with emotion and hearts are full. We share in a one-last meal together and spend a final afternoon surrounded by the families of Dratabu village.

As we leave Mele and Illisoni and their family to enjoy their new home, our team reflects on the lives that have been changed in the space of just a week. It’s a truly humbling and rewarding experience, and we feel incredibly grateful to have been involved.

Home visits Fiji and Nepal twice a year on build trips like the one we just completed for Mele and Illisoni. If you would like to volunteer on one of these trips please contact us for more information.

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