Treasure House ~ 2nd last week & Xmas build up

Bula Gang,

Delayed post, my second last week was last week hehe my blog is on Island Time…

To begin my second last week, I was greeted by the kids washing their hands before their mid-morning snacks. Five little people running up with ALICE screams, I didn’t have time to put my bag down before I was helping with the hand washing!

We always have to play tricks with Sritty to get her to finish her food. Usually pretending that we’ll give it to one of the other children. It seems she’s outsmarted this tactic so the new one is a threat that I will go home. The staff say “Alice will go home if you don’t eat your food”, then I’m meant to get up and leave, after one or two cries and flaps of her hands, I sit down and spoon feed her. She’s an emotional little thing, cries at the drop of a hat but I think a lot of the time it’s because she wants to be picked up and cuddled.

Wednesday we had a great xmas lunch provided by Chicken BBQ. The kids loved to get ready to go out to a restaurant. Toddlers were in their best dress and the older girls really liked the way I did my hair (fish braid) so they asked if I could do their hair like that too. I had a lot of fun playing hairdresser and they all looked very pretty.

Everyone was well behaved in the restaurant. Ansu made a thank you speech on behalf of everyone at Treasure House, she spoke very well but she is used to it as they encourage her public speaking abilities. We were talking after about what we want to be when we grow up, she wants to be a flight attendant, this would suit her very well, she can travel (which I’m always encouraging) and opens up the door to lots of other career opportunities. I’ve heard the training is quite rigorous but I believe she’ll do great at anything she puts her mind too.

Anyway, back to the restaurant… there was an applause once Ansu finished and Aaron our 5 year old who has autism, couldn’t stop clapping and his catch phrase “on the light, on the light, BULA”. He is a character and brings a lot of happiness to the house, even though he bit me on my second day, we’ve bonded since. I’ll never forget when I asked him how he was and he replied “not bad, not bad” such a funny response from a 5 year old.

Sritty ate too much lollies so she didn’t eat the chicken or chips, typical. Gloria was taken up to cut the cake, afterwards she thought the cake was hers but said she would share with everyone. The afternoons are always a lil out of sync after these big lunches. They go to sleep later, have their bath later and then no time for much playing because they’re all so exhausted. Generally makes for a more relaxing afternoon 😀

As we don’t see and spend as much time with the older girls from Judy House next door for 14 and above, one of the other volunteers Lucille organised for her, Laura and myself to take them out for lunch. Originally it was to the movies but it became too hard with session times and getting to Lautoka which is 45 mins by bus. Lunch was great though, the girls really enjoyed it and so did we. It was nice to be able to chat without being interrupted by the smaller children and being able to give all your focus on them.

It was a great end to the week and end to Lucille’s last day, she’s been with us for 2 weeks.

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma Levu,

xx

Treasure House ~ My Final Weeks ~ School Holidays & Excursions

Bula Gang,

I can’t believe I only have 2 weeks left at the Treasure House and in Fiji! The time has gone so quickly and the older girls have been asking me to stay over Christmas, trying to explain visa restraints to 8-12 year olds is difficult.

We had 3 American couples come to visit one afternoon, they were guest speakers from a church group which had a function in Suva. The Director brought them to Treasure House as they were interested to meet the children. The kids introduced themselves and then sang a few songs in Fijian, it was lovely. One lady was so overwhelmed it brought her to tears, she hadn’t been to an orphanage before and asked herself or god, why? … Why indeed, children are innocents so why do some of them endure more pain and suffering from birth than others do in their entire life? At least the Treasure House provides a safe and happy environment for these children until they’re adopted, fostered or able to look after themselves independently, once they’ve completely all their schooling.

We had a Fun Day with other orphanages in the area, lots of games, yummy foods and music. The kids had a great day, there was sack races, musical chairs and running races. The kids also enjoyed playing with the other children. Some of them are related as well, one of our girls has a sister in another orphanage, unfortunately due to space issues at the time, they weren’t able to be sent to the same one. Some of the older girls just wanted to walk around in groups or sit together and not participate, reminded me of high school at sports carnivals haha. There was a freak out moment when one of the Administrators ran up to me asking if I could run to the school as 3 girls have walked off unattended. I thought they’d made a run for it but turned out they just went to the bathroom and were happy to return to the oval. Really happy I could be around for this day, it was great to see everyone happy and enjoying while on school holidays.

The next 2 days the weather wasn’t good, very windy and raining spells. This means the children can only do inside activities and there just isn’t really the room for it while all the kids are home during the holidays. So we were busy trying to keep them entertained, it was hard with the toddlers and their 2 min attention spans. Gloria just wants to do her own thing, she’s an independent little 2 year old! She can sometimes be a pleasure to look after and her communication is amazing, so advanced… but when she doesn’t want to follow the group and wants to be with the older girls, she’s can be a little madam… Although, I must say I’m proud of her being so well developed in an environment where most children are performing below their age. She’s also completely toilet trained and lets me know when she needs go 🙂 yaymigae

Sritty has recently started to cry when I leave for my lunch break or leave in the afternoons, she calls my name and I can usually hear her from the gate. I’ve been trying to leave more discreetly to avoid any upsets.

It is impossible to not get attached to these gorgeous kids.

Vinaka vakalevu,

Loloma Levu xx

Treasure House ~ Xmas Preps & School Holidays !

Bula Gang,

It’s the lead up to Christmas at the Treasure House 🙂 I put up the Christmas tree with some help from the kids. I usually put up the tree at home but since I won’t be back until 3 days before Christmas, I’m sure Mum will be taking on that duty. It’s a much larger tree than our one at home, I had to really stretch and climb to get decorations on the top branches. The kids had a fun afternoon helping me put it up and singing “we wish you a merry Christmas”! The older girls and staff put up tinsel around the living & lounge rooms.

When the toddlers saw the tree, they looked at it for about 5 seconds probably wondering what’s going on. Then all smiles and started inching closer and closer, I told them to just look and not touch. I don’t know why I wasted my breath since they rarely listen to these types of requests. Moses and Jacob both climbed up onto the chair and just had to touch and play with the ornaments. It’s going to be a long month pulling them away from the lures of the Christmas tree lol.

The afternoon was filled with taking pics with the tree, group selfies and videos. I will cherish these moments and look over them when I’m no longer volunteering with the Treasure House.

We have a new volunteer from England, I’m thankful for the extra set of hands to help 🙂 Also being able to have a chat about London between, bathing, playing, feeding and changing the toddlers hehe.

It is school holidays, so all the children are home. Now firstly I’m greeted with a big Bula Alice from the older kids and a slightly but more excited bula from the toddlers. It’s a lot of fun having them all around and get to spend extra time with the school kids. Some were sad on the last day saying bye to their friends who were going to different schools. I remember those days and assured them they would make lots of new friends as well. Nadi is a small place, I’m sure they’ll run into their primary school friends sometime down the track.

On Thursday we were quite short staffed so I had to look after baby Joel for about 1 ½ hours. I fed him, gave him a cuddle and changed his dirty nappy. One of the older girls Ruth, she is 12 and wanted to watch, she was shocked by his greenish poo haha. He is a beautiful baby, lots of hair and smiles easily now, his dimples are to die for! I really didn’t want to put him down but I know it’s not fair on the others and the staff if he becomes a high maintenance baby.

Later in the afternoon I had to help with Joel again and one of the staff said “alice the best”! I felt so touched and glad that I am actually making a difference around the Treasure House.

Daphane has been allocated to another staff member, I’m not sure how long for but I miss her being around with us. I see her from day to day but not as much, she always has a big smile for me and shuffles her way over to get a cuddle. I’m just waiting for the day she walks over for a cuddle!

I’m looking forward to the coming weeks with all the xmas celebrations, school holidays and activities!

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Loloma levu xox

Treasure House – Excursions, Play Dough & Toilet Training Success!

Bula Gang,

It was all fun and games when some Aussie visitors organised for the kids to have dinner at Maccas 😀 Everyone was very excited and all dressed up nicely. I looked after Moses as I’m a favourite of his, he was a good little boy who walked the 5 min walk holding my hand and didn’t look to run off at all. He enjoyed looking at the cars at the mechanics pointing and saying “cars, cars”!

All the other children were also well behaved and looked both ways when crossing the road in single file hehe.

A lot of the kids had face painting and enjoyed playing in the playground. Maccas here looks exactly the same as in Australia and menu seems to also be basically the same. The visitors also paid for the staff and me to have dinner yay! I hadn’t had Maccas since I left Aussie in June… it tastes just as good here too 😛 although looking after Moses, I had to wait to eat mine since he couldn’t grasp how to eat the burger. I broke it up into little pieces and with each piece he wanted a sip of coke. I now understand how those mums feel eating a cold meal because they had to help their small child.

The older girls had their eyes glued to the TV on the wall playing the chart music & video clips. Being a family place everything was tasteful, no Nicki Minaj Anaconda haha!

More visitors donated toys and play dough has been a huge success. The toddlers have one each and it keeps them amused for ages, even if they are just breaking it into little pieces and putting it back into the containers. Some haven’t really caught on to making shapes just yet. Similar with puzzles, Caleb much prefers to empty the puzzle bag and then put each piece back into the bag haha.

I got chatting one afternoon with the director who drops down a few times a month from Suva. She is a lovely lady who accompanied the supervisor to Australia recently. A Melbourne family sponsored them to travel as they donated a large amount of money for furniture etc for the orphanage. They sent a team to check if the money was spent correctly, their holiday was a Thank You for the efforts. Anyway, there was a little Indo-Fijian girl playing that I had never met before and she didn’t look like she would be a new child. She called the director Mummy and I realised she must have adopted her, then one of the other staff said she was brought to the Treasure House as a new born and the director and her husband adopted her. She already had 3 sons, so I thought this was lovely and also that it didn’t matter if she was Fijian or Indian.

Caleb and I had a high 5 in the toilet when he managed to not wet his pants and wee’d in the toilet, like he’s supposed to YAY! Toilet training is a bit inconsistent between different staff members, that’s why it’s taking so long and 2 and 3 year olds are still in nappies.

Sometimes when you’re missing your friends and family back at home, these lil people instantly make you feel better! Their bright smiles, big eyes, abundance of hugs and all the funny ways they try to say Alice, is a definite pick me up!

Leaving it on that happy note 😀

Vinaka Vakalevu

Loloma Levu xox

Treasure House ~ Hopeful 5th Week

Bula Gang,

An exciting and hopeful 5th week, there were a lot of visitors who were very generous with donations. One family donated 4+ massive boxes, the husband is Fijian Indian and his wife is Australian, they reside in Australia now and it’s so nice they still think of those that need their help back in Fiji.

Another visitor from Australia came especially to see the 8 year old twin girls. He and his wife are going through the process of adopting these two girls. He gave them new dresses, school shoes, school bags, amongst a lot of other goodies and also for the other children in the house. I love hearing that children have been either adopted or able to return to their families. All going ahead, they’ll be living in Melbourne and I just thought how great that will be, open to a big world and a culturally diverse city. Although, they may take a while to get used to the forever changing climate, I know I do and I’m from Canberra haha!

There were more testing times during toilet training! I had to bath and change one of the 2 year olds Jacob twice in 20 mins! It’s so hard 6 toddlers undergoing toilet training and accidents are imminent, I feel sorry for the laundry lady! However, that wasn’t the worst of it… I thought to myself, I don’t think anyone gave Caleb chocolate so why is it melted on his fingers… OMG, it’s POO! He has developed a habit of pooing his nappy and touching it. I was holding Daphane so I couldn’t attend to him but I alerted the staff pretty well and they acted swiftly before he could touch anything or anyone! He has done that twice now that I know of.

I remembered a trick my Nan Harvey said she used to do with my Dad and had him toilet trained by 9 months old! I’ve never heard a baby trained so young so I’m not sure if the truth is somewhat stretched haha? Anyway, she said to make the baby wee you blow air into their face while they’re on the toilet, I’m not sure if it worked but I will try again with this method haha, maybe sometimes wives tales work?

We are being strict with Daphane’s mobility effort, haha I’m used to talking about mobility in an IT sense but a little girl’s mobility is much more interesting! We have noticed when she’s standing against the couch she doesn’t necessarily take a step but she manages to shuffle gradually from one end to another. She’s curious to see what the other children are doing and is laughing a lot more. She is also putting her hand out for me to do “round and round the garden like a teddy bear”, as the toddlers do. She may not be able to communicate vocally but she seems to understand quite a lot. When she feels like walking she does very well and even laughs and smiles, however walking is very much on her terms. We are seeing small results every day, that’s the main thing.

I had a really good cuddle with baby Joel, he was awake as well and pulling lots of funny faces. I have noticed he has dimples when he (sort of) smiles, they are the cutest and I can’t wait until he’s smiling properly! He liked his chin being lightly tickled with my fingernail and his cheeks which are a lil chubby hehe. Later in the day he made another appearance but he was mainly asleep, I got to put him back to bed and he looked so peaceful and didn’t stir at all, bless his little heart.

Some of the older girls have asked me about showing them some of my music as they aren’t allowed to listen to chart music. They are 12-14 and haven’t heard of the likes of One Direction. They have heard of Beyonce but don’t know any of her songs, saddens me! I spoke to the supervisor, unfortunately music even without swearing isn’t allowed but I can show my pics. I respect and understand this is a Christian house and these are children and they are trying to protect them. Although at 14 when Destiny’s Child came out with “Independent Woman”, I believe that played a part in how I wanted to live my life haha!

They did enjoy looking at some of my recent Europe photos but hadn’t heard of most of the countries. They would like me to bring in some more pics. Some of them said they wanted to travel when they’re grown up and asked if it was hard… I didn’t want to discourage them since they are children and should be able to dream, so I just said if you study hard, do well in school and take every opportunity which comes your way, the world is what you make it.

I’ll leave it on that positive piece of advice!

Vinaka vakalevu,

Loloma levu xox

1 Month at Treasure House

Bula Gang!

It’s been a month since I began volunteering at the Treasure House! I adore these kids, there were only 2 toddlers who were a bit standoff-ish but have now come around. One little girl Gloria, her speech is great for a 2 year old, she pronounces her words clearly and her sentences make sense. I was pushing her on the swing and she was clearly singing this song she learnt at church, so cute! In the mornings she says “Bula Alice” and comes to give me a hug, so cute when they run up and cuddle your knees, although all my clothes or legs depending what I’m wearing end up with dribble and sometimes food if they’ve just had their snacks haha. Caleb used to play up a lot with me, he’s got a lot of energy and I think sometimes he plays up because he’s bored, the toddlers hardly ever get to leave the house, only for church on Sundays. Anyway, he’s become a lot better behaved, still cheeky but he does listen more now and wants to be played with just like the other toddlers and become very cuddly yay!

Little Moses has now fallen asleep on my lap twice after his snacks in the morning. He generally sits on his chair next to me and puts his head on my lap and nods off! Today he was standing, put his head on my lap and fell asleep while standing there, I didn’t realise until I looked down! I carried him to his room and he only slightly woke up when I picked him up, melts my heart!

Daphane had a visit from the physiotherapist which was very interesting. 2 months ago she was taking a few steps by herself but unfortunately she came down with the Chicken-Pox and she had bed rest for 2 weeks, so she lost all the skills that she had learnt. We’re back at square 1 but we have some new techniques which should improve her posture, balance and in time walking on her own. It’s getting hard since she’s 4 and getting heavy, if she doesn’t learn now it will only get harder for her and everyone involved. We were walking with her holding her hands up but now we are supposed to hold her shoulder so she’s not looking at the ground or slouching. She can stand against a wall and at any opportunity she should be doing this to build her strength and balance. I hope she can at least take a few steps before Christmas, so I can see.

Sritty who has been with Treasure House for about 4-5 months, previously could only speak Hindi but we have noticed in the last 2 weeks her English is coming along very well. She can quite clearly say Alice, come, sit down, stand up, no, yes, again, me and of course bula, hi 5 and bye. Love seeing progress with all the children!

An end to another fabulous week. Happy Friday!

Vinaka Vakalevu

Loloma Levu xx