Day 2 started with a visit to the school for children with disability where the volunteers were treated as VIPs. The kids shook our hands like we were celebrities and presented us with garlands made with a combination of pink and yellow bougainvillea flowers and bright green leaves. They then sang both the New Zealand and the Australian national anthems, danced and some of the blind kids played music in the most rhythmic fashion. The whole experience was humbling if not sobering.  It was then that I realised (yet again) that I haven’t got it half as tough as them.

The rest of the day involved ‘life admin’ as one of the other volunteers put it. Immigration office for passport stamps, getting a Kiribati driving license- Yes- I am officially able to drive here now. Save the questions! Save the questions! Ha ha ha

We were then invited for drinks at the New Zealand High Commission where I met some of the other New Zealanders in Kiribati. Fun night meeting some extraordinary people with exceptionally interesting stories. This was followed by a night drive to get back to the hotel. I’ll save this one for another day but let’s say, it was a busy night give it is Friday!

Oh I have fallen in love with drinking coconut water. It is so delicious! Divine on a hot day…averaging about one a day at the moment. Staying on the notion of food- there is a little luxury of a place in Tarawa called Chatterbox which serves heavenly Banana and paw-paw smoothies and cheese toast. I know I cannot continue to indulge in these being a volunteer but just knowing it is there is a comfort on its own. It might be a place for a treat every once in a while! Yum yum!

The one thing me and the other new volunteer is struggling with is the deceptively inviting sea. All we want to do is jump in the water but there are only a few spots for swimming here in South Tarawa which I am yet to discover and am very excited already 🙂

I start work next week which I am thoroughly looking forward to! I am sure it will be a very interesting time ahead and challenging in various ways to say the least. Some of these challenges are apparent already but I guess time will be a true test of patience, persistence and strength (much more than just physical).

It is rather hot here but I knew that! Food- well, yes, it is hard to find many things I would expect to see at home but that also- I knew. It was good to have come with expectations that were somewhat realistic but I have to say- nothing- absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the challenges that lie ahead. A character defining year it will be and I’m sure it will be a year that I will fondly look back at.

I am at the beginning of the road now and striding ahead with optimism and a locally infused smile. I am surrounded by inspiring volunteers, enduring locals and very caring individuals helping me settle in.

Over and out from the land of smiling faces.


4 thoughts on “EARLY DAYS

  1. Hi Shifani. How have you been. Just tried read between the lines and it was a pleasing feeling i must say. Being a volunteer is not what everyone can take up to. But I know you are going to nail it. I know that you have so much to share that pretty soon you are going to be the center of orbit in those people’s life. Have fun, enjoy your stay and keep posted.


  2. Hey Shifani
    I hear you are just loving it over there and can’t get enough of the fish and mangoes and all the other good stuff you lucky thing. I hear you are at the beach every day and never out of your bikinis. Oh boy!!! ha ha
    really hope you are well. We all miss you

    best regards


    • Ha ha… where are you getting your stories from Max? Ha ha but in my dreams I am doing all that you speak of 🙂

      Good to hear you all miss me! I’m doing fairly well though. Keeping positive and smiling!


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