June Osborne - Adventures in Fiji

Memories of Batiki

Sea Mercy Volunteer, June Osborne

I will never forget arriving on the island of Batiki in the middle of the night. We had traveled for 10 hours on the Sea Mercy barge after our flight from the US landed in Nadi, Fiji. The night sky was glittering with stars and glowing orange from the light of a huge bonfire on the beach. Palm trees swayed quietly and the waves lapped rhythmically on the soft sand. The fire was a beacon to guide our boat safely through the coral ring that surrounds the island. This was just the first of many acts of hospitality and kindness from the grateful people of Batiki.

We were there to bring building materials for the village, which had been badly damaged during Hurricane Winston. As part of the Sea Mercy team, we also brought medical supplies, clothes and shoes for the children and encouragement to rebuild.

In the weeks that we stayed on this beautiful island we shared everything. One day we had tea with the village women who made us coconut buns (from coconut harvested that day) and made delicious fried eggplant that they had just plucked from the garden. We exchanged stories as well as treats. They told us about the day of “the big wind,” which is how they refer to the hurricane that destroyed their village. They described their children being “wide-eyed with shock, and stunned for days.” Many people lost everything they had, but they smiled when they told us how Sea Mercy had quickly been there with food and supplies to help. I remember one elder saying wistfully with a tear in his eye, “From the other side of the world – you came to help us, and we will never forget.”

I fell in love with the people of Fiji. The whole experience was what I call a grand adventure. It is the kind of adventure that is challenging, magical, eye opening and soul stirring. It is one of the best experiences I have ever had. You will likely fall in love with these people too, and then you will want to go back to help again and again.

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