Thursday, September 6, 2012

Farewell Progressive Dinner

Everyone had a good time at school, Carol with reading groups, Joyce individual students and reading, Fran library work and school office work and Yolanda maths testing. We all had a restful afternoon, Carol visited the island living store, Joyce home via town, Fran home to sort out her IPAD and Yolanda a final walk and swim at Muri Beach.

Our highlight for the evening was being picked up at 5.00 with a group of 20 other people to attend a ‘Progressive Dinner Tour’. Our first course was at the Home of Dan and Jane Kelly who have retired from owning 3 duty free stores. We were give a tour of their property with talks about the different plants trees and animals they had. The entrée was Raw tuna marinated in lemon juice and served in Coconut milk, tomato and spring onion – divine! Also arrowroot, and Pawpaw with mayonnaise curry. On to the Main course, a beautiful big house on the hill above the airport and gym with a lovely couple. We prayed before and after the meal. There was lovely pan fried tuna, salad, kumara, taro, vege sauce, chicken and spinach. Chatting with our tour driver, he told us that he used to be the chief secretary to a former prime minister- and this has made him more cynical about politics.

Our dessert stop was with the tour owners family. His wife and nephew and family hosted us. We had Banana Cake, chocolate cake, meringue, ice cream, fruit salad and tea and coffee.

All the while at these three homes, music played and also on the bus we sang many songs to the Ukelele. A great night was had by all.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Library Lessons

In the morning we met for breakfast and then had the morning meeting with James. We discussed what the schedule was for the remainder of the week and we decided that there were still a few things on our to do lists but fewer days to do them.

At school Carol began her morning reading to the preschoolers. Fran and Yolanda team taught classes most of the day at Takitumu on the proper use of the library to each grade level (e.g. How to treat books, return them, use the fiction and non fiction areas etc).

The objectives of these lessons were to identify children that will eventually help out in the library. The youngest group to do the library lessons was treated to a story by Yolanda. The 6th graders adapted a shelf of picture books for the day pulling out were misfiled and putting the rest into the proper alphabet listing. A group of older girls were thrilled to help Fran with labeling.

After school the team met to help Sister Margret at her homework project. When our workday ended Yolanda went to Te Vara Nui for the cultural tour. Greg from Esther Honey Foundation saw Fran, Carol and Joyce at the bus stop and offered us a ride. Joyce was pleased with her purchase of Pawpaw jelly. Dinner was catered at 6.00 and we had the caterer leave some food for Yolanda.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ordinary Day

Today one might call an ordinary day in the Cook Islands. The ocean was a beautifully colored blue, the breeze swept through our classrooms and the sun shone to begin our day. Fran said she did what she had come here to do – to be of service to others. Highlight of the day was Bernice a student, who saught her out and read to her. Carol was busy at school and felt that her time was well spent with lots of students and some time at the pre school. After school she went to the Edgewater for a massage.  Yolanda helped organise a classroom visit to the library tour. Each class will come and learn how to use the library responsibly. Yolanda and Carol started to tidy up the Teachers resource room. Joyce had a busy day with students and stayed back at the Pacific resort for a late lunch. Tonight a special surprise – Chinese food brought to the Kiikii by James and Debi.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meeting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Friday was the last day for 5 of our group. Kristies week at the library concluded with gifts, hugs, tea, cake, photos and a request to come back. Peter and Trudy observed athletics day and a show about whales put on by the Juniors which included “We all live in the yellow submarine” Barbara and Yuri also got gifts and cards had dancing & singing and a highlight for Yuri was being able to ride to school on the back of a truck. Fran also got to have a ride on the back of a bike by Engia the principal. Fran, and Carol enjoyed the junior kids assembly. Joyce had a half a day and met Kristie at Trader Jacks for Lunch. Yolanda did the cross island walk with Pa.

We all got dressed up for our farewell dinner at the Tamarind House, got a group photo and tucked into our delicious entrees, mains and desserts. A surprise was in store for us. One of Debis and James’ friends who was waitressing for a special guest and her party, mentioned to the PA of the special guest that there were some fellow countrymen who were volunteers from the States. Our table was approached by the PA and Joyce took the initiative to talk to her and tell her a little about who we were. The PA said that she would mention us to Hilary Clinton and from that mention we were advised that we could stop by and meet with the secretary of state. And that is what we did. Hilary was very gracious to us and shook hands with us all and chatted briefly with the team and then suggested that we have a photo together. She was very calm and relaxed and it was a treat for us all to spend a few moments with her.

Saturday dawned beautiful but rain was to come. Some attended the market while Yolanda splashed out on a day trip to Aitutaki. In the Afternoon a group of the team attended Te Vara Nui Cultural experience. It included a history lecture, a medicine hut, sacred stones, a talk about fishing and fish nets, a costume hut and coconut demonstrations. 2 stayed on for dinner and the rest returned to pack and our last catered dinner. As 5 leave us, four remain for the last week.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hard At Work

The last day of August and the last day of work for most of Vaka 130. Fran and Barbara spent most of yesterday fighting various illnesses, though Fran was well enough to join us later on our outing. Joyce had an opportunity to meet the Swedish ambassador to Australia, NZ and the Cook Islands while riding the local bus. After she greeted them in Swedish, they chatted for the remainder of the ride.

Carol continued her work with her classes at school and for a change of pace, decided to walk to school with Yolanda. Yolanda reported that during a school break, one of the students climbed a coconut tree and used his feet to ply some of them off. They were opened and everyone enjoyed the fresh coconut water. Yuri continues to be in demand with his rap and hip hop performances much to the evident delight of the St Josephs students.

Peter and Trudy judged foot races at a sports day at their school handing out popsicle sticks to the place getters. After school they trekked in opposite directions to catch up on some shopping.

Kristie continued her work at the public library. In the morning a whaling kettle was returned to the museum from the whale centre, where it had been on loan. It took 6 large men and a dolly to move it. For our evenings entertainment we visited a local jeweler, a local brewery and were given an interesting lecture in Coconuts. Yuri successfully managed to husk a nut and we all sampled the different stages of the fruit.

Dinner concluded our evening, burgers and fries, island take out style and we were safely delivered back to the Kiikii under the light of a full moon.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Working With The Kids

Kristy on Wednesday continued working hard in the library but happy on the job. Her tattoo experience was fantastic. Trudy and Peter had a sweet tooth and decided to grab an ice cream at Foodland. Trudy chose passion fruit and Peter Chocolate Banana. Afterwards they paid a visit to Westpac Bank to pay for their departure tax. Trudy also received a nice blue vest from her school. Joyce while waiting for the bus had a surprise and was offered a ride to Titikaveka from the secretary of the school. She had never been on a bike so she didn’t refuse  and loved it. Fran read to the children and dusted down a small section of the library which is now nearly clean. Victoria brought in Almond croissants and Fran has organised to take some of her pumkin hummus bask with her to the states.

Yolanda was thrilled to play her ukulele for the pre-school children who were cute and great. She also enjoyed a nice stroll into town. Barbara (aka mom), helped out in the 6th grade class at our school. In the afternoon she was asked to help look after the 3rd grade class since all the teachers went to the soccer field to demonstrate how the kids played football for the NZ Prime Minister. My mom forgot how vastly different the 3rd graders are from the 6th graders. Carol received some much needed R& R but she was able to make an appearance for dinner. I helped the children practice for their tests, but they are now going to be held in October. I also helped the kids with spelling, math and reading. My high-light was getting to rap and sing for the kids. They were so entranced by it. Some wanted to give me coins for my singing. My mom and I met up with some of her friends for dinner at Trader Jacks. They were lovely and the food was great. I ate ribs- so good!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Preparing For The Forum

Tuesday was a big day for Vaka 130. We’ve had a lot of excitement leading up to the opening of the Pacific Forum and finally the big night arrived. But first to school. The bus ride was uneventful for all of us but Joyce who observed an incident on the bus to Titikaveka. She stayed at her school all day but the rest of us all had a half  day as we could get ready to go to the forum.

Peter and Trudy got back to the Kiikii in time to join Harry Napa, owner along with his wife Pauline for lunch. He might be the most interesting person on the island with his long history of entrepreneurship and many opinions about current politics, including a comment about politicians i.e. forum delegates being carried on a  traditional ‘Pa’ata’ which should really be only for arikis.

Around 3.00 Debi kindly gave the lot of us a ride to the national auditorium where we joined our school groups. The event was a bit of organised chaos. Forum delegates arrived one by one, some riding on a pa’ata accompanied by school children and sometimes a whole entourage of teachers, parents and kids. Fran, Yolanda and Carol, wearing lovely ‘eis’ on their heads march in with Takitumu. The rest of us met up with our respective schools in the stands.

There was dancing singing, some long-winded speeches and so we say ‘ a good time was had by all.

A small note of delight: On the bus ride home from school, a couple of students we’d met at Sister Margret’s homework centre recognized Peter. They looked happy to see him and the little boy who actually tried on Peter’s hat gave a special shy sweet smile. It was a small reminder of how a childs life can be touched by GV’s even in such a short time.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Life Is Good

Friday brought us to the close of our first work week in the beautiful Cook Islands. Our day began with morning meeting, Yolanda’s thought of the day, Kristi’s journal entry and of course a hearty breakfast. Then off to our various work sites where sports Friday in the schools provided students with various forms of competition and group exercise. The children continued rehearsing for their up-coming performances at Tuesdays Pacific Forum, as they received final instructions as to time schedule, uniforms and proper behavior. The younger children at Takitumu School were treated to a presentation by Greg from Esther Honey Foundation accompanied by our very own Barbara. Friday evening back at the Kiikii, the group wre picked up for a fun evening of ‘Fish & Chips’ at the flying boat restaurant.

Saturday and Sunday the group members busied themselves in various buddy combinations, exploring the many things to do on the island including shopping at the Saturday market, bike riding, the Safari tour, the whale research centre, dinner and traditional dancing at the Edgewater Resort, snorkeling, catching up with friends and attending a CICC Church to hear some amazing hym singing. Life is Good.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Calm Seas

The day started out with calm seas, the usual spectacular sunrise, and a sighting of one or two whales just off the beach near our hotel.

The volunteers seem to be settling into a comfortable work routine at the various schools. Kristi nearly finished organizing the library at Titikaveka College. Yolanda was invited to play the ukulele along with the music teacher at her school and was given a music lesson as a bonus.

We had an evening out for dinner at the Aquarius. Our food was delicious. Kristi, Yolanda, and Peter decided to try the night life and went to the cultural dance show at the staircase restaurant. It was spectacular. The drumming was amazing. All three were invited to participate in the dancing, with much success, and despite the predictions to the contrary, we made it back to the Kiikii on the bus without causing an international incident.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Good Day To Be A Volunteer

The day began on a high note thanks to a fine breakfast from Mary, Trudy’s thoughtful synopsis of Tuesdays doings, and Frans inspiring thought for the day. With spirits high, we then engaged James in a discussion of various options for the evening and weekend activities, scheduling and desire of team members to attend next Tuesdays opening ceremony for the Pacific Forum. This we have been told is a gathering of Pacific Island nation representatives that will be held in Rarotonga for the first time ever. It is particularly interesting for us because children from the schools where we work will be participating in the opening ceremonies.

We then set off in a gentle rain for our first bus ride to our respective work sites. As we stood waiting for the bus, it became apparent that the team, was not at full strength. Missing was Barbara who, Yuri reported, was ‘under the weather’, and Carol who was moving gingerly after her unfortunate tumble yesterday. Even so, the team had lost none of it’s momentum that they overshot their destination by a large margin and were obliged as Fran put it ‘to do the Cook Islands Walkabout’ for 45 mins to get back to Takitumu.

All went well there after, however, as they buried themselves helping in the library, in the classrooms and with the students, practices for their coming participation in the Pacific Forum ceremonies, but, sadly their participation is in doubt as they lack the necessary uniforms.

Meanwhile at Te Uki Ou School, Trudy and Peter continued to help the younger children with their reading, and Trudy spent additional time in the classroom. Although we have only seen them for two days, it seems clear that the children are thriving in a very caring environment that the school and faculty provide.

The report from Titikaveka is also positive. Joyce spent her time there in the classroom, where she astonished and delighted one and all by using music to teach reading. Kristi had what she described as a ‘very good day’ working in the library where she made great progress despite dodging the dreaded lizard.

Finally at St Josephs, Yuri shouldered the Global Volunteers burden single handedly, albeit belatedly, as he had to take the long route to School. Once on the scene, however, he proved indispensable to the 4th Graders as they practiced their marching and Olympic style events and otherwise sought to avoid strenuous academic activity.

All in all it was a very good day to be a Global Volunteer.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

So Much To Do

The major business of being a volunteer began today with our team meeting. The thought of the day by James was ‘Your basket and my basket will feed the nation’, a traditional Maori saying. Today we took our baskets to our assignments to match them with our schools and their teachers and students.

We were all excited to start, all bundled (in a Pacific way i.e. no parkers and wool hats) against a surprisingly cool morning and armed with our self catered lunches. James drove us to our sites (tomorrow we catch the bus) Barbara and Yuri first into town to St Josephs school where Yuri worked in Miss Lucy’s 4th grade class and Barbara worked in Mr Kimis 6th grade class.

Next Carol, Yolonda and Fran were dropped at Takitumu, Trudy and Peter at Te Uki Ou and finally Joyce and Kristie at Titikaveka College. It was a full and busy day for everyone and included helping children, major book sorting, an unfortunate fall by Carol (nose in book she missed a small step).

At the end of the day, Yoland, Carol, Trudy, Peter and Fran went to Sister Margarets famous homework project and worked with wonderful, earnest and motivated children. They may like to study but Sister Margaret bakes. Today it was chocolate chip cookies. What a motivation for us all!

Then without letting the grass grow under our feet, we went to the library and museum for a self guided tour and then onto a dance rehearsal. A couple of us, Yuri and Trudy saw children from their schools, a couple of us danced (Debi and Yolonda). All of us enjoyed it and look forward to seeing island dancing at the island night.

Back to the Kiikii for another delicious meal and a discussion about the coming week and it’s activities (So much to do and so little time).



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Welcome to the Cook Islands!

Carol, Fran, Joyce, Trudy, Peter, Kristie, Yuri and Barbara – Rarotonga here we come! 6.30am we arrive after a 10 hour flight from LAX. After squeezing into the van with James and Debi and 10,000 pounds of luggage (which helped to quickly develop camaraderie) off to meet our Kiwi team member, Yolanda for an early morning orientation meeting at the Kiikii. After giving us beautiful ‘ei’s’ and a welcome to the Island, James and Debi engaged us all in discussing our goals, program sustainability, insights into the Cook Islands culture as well as practical info about the island and program logistics. Around 11 am we took a break to unpack, do errands, and generally rest. My son Yuri and I visited St Josephs where I was a volunteer last year. We were enthusiastically welcomed with hugs and of course food in typical Cook Islands manner. The mid day weather is warm and inviting and Rarotonga is crowed with tourists. But our journey here is different from many other people. Our interest includes appreciating the physical beauty and having fun, but our goals also include meeting new friends and seeing old ones, making useful contributions to this community, learning and growing and to fully immerse ourselves in this experience as discussed in our early morning meeting. We reconvened as a group at 4.00 and discussed other things, effective team characteristics, which include: respect, communication, shared goals, individuality and flexibility. These formulate the structure and provide the lenses through which we understand our experiences. Our meeting was concluded with a wonderfully cooked local meal.


- Barbara 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

If you think you can, or you think you can’t – You’re right! Henry Ford

Here we are!!! Vaka 125 – five warriors who have now been on the island for about three weeks, people that came from all walks of life to share their lives with the people of the Cook Islands. We have walked or been driven around the neat tidy villages with their manicured lawns and family graves out front. We have ventured further inland amongst the taro swamps and trees heaving with mangoes, pawpaws, starfruit and all the abundant fruits of the islands. We can close our eyes and smell the heady fragrance of the frangipani and the gardenia flowers of the ei’s we were shown how to make. We recall with warmth the boat trip across the sparkling waters to a white sandy beach. Unfortunately, tropical rains set in for a couple of days, but as the days and weeks have rolled on with the islands tides, we all recall with fondness the places visited and the wonderful people we have met along the way. The singing of the children in the school, the hip swaying of the dancers together with the sounds of the drummers in the shows and all the singing in the churches will echo in our ears for a long time to come. We have experienced the friendliness and hospitality of the islanders and four of us are now getting ready to go back home. It is appropriate to reflect on our friendships and OUR team- small, but steady and strong. The team that took a hands on approach to touch lives. We came to achieve goals and have experienced that beneath skin, beyond the differing features and into the true heart of being, fundamentally we are more alike than we are different.All my thoughts will be with you this weekend as you travel back to the USA and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all and hope to meet again one day.

Ka Kite, kia orana and kia manuia! Greetings and good luck.

- Connie

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Don’t let your dreams for tomorrow be restricted by the difficulties of today."

A freighter past by the Kiikii as dawn turned to day light. Another day of sun, the sound of surf and sudden showers has begun.After a breakfast of walnut pancakes, the team departed to our assignments. Ardys and Dot again worked at St Josephs school tutoring students in English. Anne, Connie and Paul travelled to TakitumuSchool where they also helped students with their English skills. Annes work at the library was compromised by the presence of computer gremlins. Connie continued her professional support of the school staff and Paul entered part of the teachers manual into the laptop.After dinner which featured lamb chops and spiced sausages, the team watched a documentary which depicted life in the Cook Islandsduring the mid 1900’s.Ian Karika stopped by and gave an energetic history of successful efforts at the Takitumu conservationArea which helped save the Kakerori (Rarotonga Flycatcher) from extinction. Ian then humbled Paulby presenting him with a staff shirt of the Takitumu Conservation area embossed with the Fly Catcher.

We retired to our rooms with the light of a full moon shimmering on the waters of the South Pacific.

Monday, February 6, 2012

We woke up to gray skies which remained overcast much of the day, but the rain had stopped and the seas were calmer. The air was heavy with humidity which forebode a hot sticky day.Leanne treated us with French toast and fruit before we headed out for our bus or van rides to our work sites.Our time at school has settled into predictable patterns. A couple of noteworthy things occurred. At St. Joseph’s Ardys was promoted from Pre-Schoolers to fourth graders. She worked with them all day on reading. That meant she could join the faculty and staff for morning tea. This included not only tea or coffee but also a lovely array of fruit and crackers on which to spread rich, ripe avocado.Dot’s fifth graders are happily coming to reading sessions. They have been encouraged by the stickers she gives them.At Takitumu Connie, Anne and Paul settled into reading classes. Anne saw the first books logged out on the computer system that she has developed. All three had the opportunity to see the children use the library for the first time this year. With a combination of dismay and good humor they saw that much of the organizing work four team members had done somewhat undone in a matter of minutes.Dinner was a nice event with a meal catered by Samantha Puati. The main course was a chicken dish served on rice with a salad. She also made a delicious banana cake. We had an upbeat meeting with James. He outlined a number of interesting activities for late afternoons and evenings this week. We retired to our rooms to listen to the sound of the surf. The sounds of the ocean helped us unwind from a busy day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

During the night their was a ferocious rain storm and the seas were once again boiling in the morning. Ardys and Paul continued their exploration of the island by car.Dot went on her trek with Pa. She had an interesting time and due to the inclement weather plans to do it again next Saturday.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The sun was out and it appeared we would have a lovely day.Paul and Ardys rented a car and did a full scale exploration of the island.Connie and Anne attempted to break some record by circumnavigating the island by bus 3 times in one day. Two clockwise and one anti-clockwise. They were picked up early (island time) by Roratours for the Captain Tama Lagoon Cruise and rode anti-clockwise to pick up all the other passengers at their hotels on the way to MuriBeach. The cruise started out with snorkeling in the beautiful protected marine reserve. The glass bottomed boat took them to Koromiri Motu (a small island) where the crew cooked a delicious meal of fish, fruit and vegetables. They then gave a demonstration of coconut tree climbing and coconut opening. The difference between the water in the coconut and the cream and milk were explained. The crew with the help of passengers did a demonstration of wearing the Pareu.We were tired during the clockwise trip to return all the other tourists to their hotels.Anne and Connie took another trip around the island to the “Whatever Bar and Grill.” They thoroughly enjoyed Engia Pate and her band as they sang native songs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"May the spirit that is in me acknowledge the spirit that is in you". Namaste

The morning skies were clear and the prospect was for a sunny day. The surf continued to pound but with somewhat less ferocity than the previous day.After another delicious breakfast prepared by Leanne, the crew set off for the day.Ardys volunteered to assist with the move of the Cook Island Red Cross to its new facility. Anne and Connie were able to see the new facility when Ardys was left off. This new building is cyclone proof and will be the cyclone shelter for this part of the island including the KiiKii residents.Ardys spent the day going through old files and destroying those that were no longer applicable. She learned a lot about the operations of the Cook Island Red Cross.Paul returned to the Takitumu Conservation area to assist Ian with cutting the trails. He was able to get to the top most point in the area and had a magnificent view of the ocean. He was able to identify the various reefs.Dot returned to the St. Joseph’s school. She continued to tutor students in English.Anne and Connie went again to the Takitumu School. They were treated to a magnificent concert by the students. The quality of the singing is remarkable. A pep talk by the principal Engia Pate followed.Anne finished a book she’d been reading with 5th year students and Connie went about her evaluations and teaching. We were then called to “Morning Tea.” This was a feast of local dishes and fruit.Anne then continued cataloging the library’s collections. Connie continued in the classroom.At 6:30 we all met at the covered area of the KiiKii. A group photo was taken by a fellow resident of the KiiKii.We then traveled to the Raviz Restaurant for a wonderful Indian buffet. We were joined at dinner by Engia Pate her daugter Maggie and son.

It was a full day.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You can wait forever for perfect conditions...or you can make the best of what you have got!! African Proverb

Dawn came with the sound of the pounding surf and a low cloud cover, which quickly turned into a rainy morning.At the Takitumu School Connie continued to evaluate curriculum and listen to the children read. Paul Anne also tutored children. Anne adjusted the computer’s settings so the printer and computer were in sync. Anne continued cataloging the library’s holdings.Ardys went to the Creative Centerand assisted a very dedicated team of workers with daily tasks. About 20 mentally and physically challenged persons regularly spend the day socializing, doing art and craft projects (which are sold at the market), playing games for exercise and working individually on word games and puzzles. They receive limited physical therapy once weekly. Progress on paralyzed stroke victims is documented during these sessions. Meals on wheels were delivered by a van to 12 homes today. Dot tutored once again at St. Joseph’s school.This afternoon the surf was still pounding on the shore. Local surfers were exited about the prospect of surfing. They were just like kids in the states who can’t wait to build the first snowman.This evening we all went to the “Flying Boat” for Fish and Chips which were absolutely delicious. James acted as local tour guide and took us to show us where the Rugby Field is where a game will be played on Saturday. Then we went to the Marae of Araite Tonga. In ancient times political functions of the Ariki High Chief and his royal court were conducted.Back at the KiiKii the skies were still too dark to see the Southern Cross. With James help pointing out where the Southern Cross would be found, Ardys and Paul saw the formation later that evening.

It’s been a good day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Actual pleasure of discovery may far exceed our anticipation.

Dawn came with clouds and heavy surf. Leanne got us started on our day with a great breakfast. James described the 3 elements necessary for the preservation of heritage. Those elements are land, language and culture.We then left for our assignments. Ardys and Dot to St. Joseph’s school. Ardys worked with pre-school children in the morning and tutored English in the afternoon. Dot tutored English and again had the opportunity to teach a geography class.Anne, Connie and Paul again spent the day at the Takitumu school. Connie continued her evaluations and spent some time in the classrooms. Anne and Paul each worked with 5 students helping them with reading. Anne worked the balance of the day on the library computer cataloging the library’s books. Paul organized and refiled library materials.The evening was spent at the KiiKii with Ngara Katuke a representative of the Cook Islands Civil Society Organization and her friends Mariake and Piniki. The three graciously and patiently taught the group the art of making beautiful eis and eis katu. Photos of the group with their artistic creations ended the delightful session.We then turned our attention to another of Sam’s culinary delights.

- Paul

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The heavy mist that covers the skies, let our roosters sleep in and we were allowed an extra hour of sleep. Once again Leanne provided a wonderful breakfast of waffles and fruit cocktail.Still missing the normal brilliant sunshine we headed off for our assignments. Paul, Connie and Anne went to Apii Takitumi where Anne and Paul continued to work on getting the library in shape. Today instead of just cleaning and shelving they reorganized the shelves in order for more books to be shelved in order. Connie continued with her work to evaluate the systems in place. She also spent time with the 2nd grade class. They sang songs and she asked them questions. We were rewarded when Engia Pate (Principal) gave us delicious pancakes and many types of fruit for our break. All the teachers sang Happy Birthday to Paul.AtSt. Joseph’s school Ardys taught pre-school for the first half of the morning. She had help and the experience was good. Both Ardys and Dot tutored children. Dot taught a class in geography and map reading which was very successful. The sun continued to hide all day and around 4PM the rain began. We were treated to another wonderful dinner of quiche, salad and pasta. The rain continued to pour and it was actually cool. Some of us even donned sweaters.

- Anne

Monday, January 30, 2012

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” Albert Einstein

No glorious sun greets me this morning but heavy clouds, the turquoise seas have turned grey and the palm trees are having a hard time swaying with their heavy loads. After a relaxed weekend the team is all ready to go to school.A nice breakfast was enjoyed by all and off we went to our respective schools. Ardys and Dot to St. Joseph’s. Connie, Anne and Paul to Takitumu School We had a pleasant day familiarizing ourselves with the routine in the schools.As we strive to better serve these communities we welcomed new ideas, new approaches and hope for new partnerships. The school day was over too quickly and we all somehow got back to KiiKii to take a refreshing swim in the pool or just relax as the waves gently rolled in under our windows.Sam delivered a delicious spaghetti bolognaise dinner served with a salad and garlic bread.After eating and chatting got a while, Ardys got on the internet to catch up with her mail. Anne was busy reading news and weather reports. Paul walked to the library whilst Dot and myself retired to our rooms. Settling in to enjoy the second week of the program as another day in paradise comes to an end.

- Connie

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We each attended the Church service of choice and found the services worshipful and the music impressive. The voices particularly the men’s just reverberated against the walls. We 1st timers found Cook Islanders very hospitable. Connie enjoyed seeing old acquaintances.The afternoon and evening were quiet and relaxing. We have had a much needed relaxed and enjoyable weekend.

- Ardys

Saturday, January 28, 2012

On Saturday morning the market called. Local arts and crafts, food, music and dance made for a very enjoyable experience. It was great to watch friends greeting friends and the young children dancing in fully adorned island attire. Ardys enjoyed the beat of the drums.We arrived back at the KiiKii hot and tired. But by 5PM (an hour early) when our “limo” arrived we were refreshed. We were taken to the Edgewater for the Polynesian Cook Island Buffet. It was delicious...especially the desserts. The music and dance that followed was an outstanding display of cultural talent. The drummers and dancers kept us spellbound, especially as we watched Samantha Puati dance and a three year old drummer boy who never missed a beat.

- Ardys

Friday, January 27, 2012

: We seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled. Quaker Proverb

The day began in the usual way with a beautiful sunrise, the thundering surf and a delicious breakfast prepared by Leanne. Then we were off to work. Paul and Connie spent the day at the Apii Takitumu assisting Principal Engia Pate. Paul acted as gardener and trimmed vegetation around the buildings all morning. The workday was shortened for a special graduation ceremony for all Island graduates. Connie was pleased to go and watch friends she has taught be honored.Ardys and Dot were with Sister Celine at the school of St. Joseph. They cleaned more of the library , two classrooms and raked the Pre-school yard. It was hot work but the breaks were sufficient and the teachers friendly. New students were registering during all day.Anne spent the day with Sister Margaret working on a grant she was preparing. She is requesting UNESCO provide funding to replace a roof and rehabilitate a building to be used as a classroom for the prison.On the way home Anne enjoyed a swim in the beautiful Pacific by the “Fruits of Rarotonga.” In the evening James and Debi accompanied us to the Aquarius restaurant for a wonderful fish dinner. Once again the food was very flavorful and the atmosphere calming.

- Anne

Thursday, January 26, 2012

“Your greatness is not what you have, it is what you give.” African Proverb.

We were surprised that we had not been awakened by any showers during the night. Our trusty Rooster friends were happy to oblige in lieu of rain. After another wonderful breakfast of Crepes and fruit prepared by Leanne, the crew left for their assignments.Anne and Ardys went to the Creative Center a day program for developmentally and physically disabled adults where we were introduced to the staff director Bob and women and men who take care of the 16 clients that are observed there daily. Ardys met with Annie who is in charge of the new program “meals on wheels” to make recommendations and offer assistance. Anne met with other members of the staff to assess their needs and to offer ideas. This center is woefully under resourced with the type and number of clients and diagnoses. Ardys also had time to go to the ceremony where Debi Puati became a permanent resident of the Cook Islands. The ceremony was very impressive and the beautiful. Apparently the articles in the paper have stirred many residents to seek their certification as the Minister mentioned he received many applications. Paul went back to the Takituma Conservation Area and worked with Ian to remove vegetation and clear trails.Dot and Connie were planning on continuing their work with the journals for Sister Margaret. They were called by James and they went instead to the Apil Takitumu School. They worked cleaning and organizing the library.Dinner was another wonderful meal, Curry and Rice prepared by Sam.

- Anne

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Together we can make a difference."

TheCookIslanddawn came with a brief tropical downpour, followed by a beautiful rainbow framed by coconut palms.Following Leanne’s great breakast Ardys shared the thought for the day and shared Tuesday’s journal.Connie and Dot stayed at Vaka 125 to create teaching material to be used in Sister Margaret’s after school program. They read numerous children’s books and then developed questions to test the student’s comprehension. James took Anne and Ardys to St. Joesph’s School where they repaired books and organized the book shelves in the library.Paul again bused to the Takitumu Conservation Area and worked with Ian and John removing vegetation which is constantly encroaching the roads and trails. The day ended with a lovely picnic on the beach near Black Rock. James and Debi brought excellent Chinese dishes which were enjoyed by everyone.

- Paul

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

“Put your shoot in the ground in 3-4 months you’ll have breakfast.”

The day began before it was light with two hard , brief showers followed by a third just before breakfast. Team members experienced one, two or three more showers depending on where on the island they were. So goes the rainy season on Rarotonga.After a breakfast of fruit and french toast the team had a 7:30AM meeting with James to make final plans for the days assignments. By 8:30AM everyone had headed out of the first day of on-site work. Paul went to the Takitumu Conservation area to help Ian Karika clear trails. It was hot, dirty work, but he was rewarded by learning much from Ian about the natural history of Rarotongaand hearing the call of the endangered Rarotongan Flycatcher.Connie and Anne joined Sister Margaret O’Dwyer at St. Pauls Tikioki Home Work center on the task of cleaning and organizing shelves and sorting the teaching materials. They were impressed by the dedication of Sister Margaret to her work with the children and her prison work.Ardys and Dot had an interesting ride to the Are Pa Metria, Elder Respite Care. Moeroa manager of the center took them along on back roads and farther back to pick up the senior citizens who would spend most of the day at the center. These Mamas and one Papa shared a lot of information to Ardys and Dot.Late afternoon the team joined Debi for a short trip to the CookIslandMuseum.Sam prepared and served another delicious dinner.After dinner team members shared high points of the day and received their work assignments for Wednesday.

- Dot

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ko to’ou rourou,Ko toku rourou ka ora te iti tangata! Your basket and my basket will feed the nation!!!

Humidity hangs in the air...and aqua marine sea glints in the sunshine..four warriors arrive at KiiKii to join Connie on a mission to make a difference through service. After a nice breakfast prepared by Leanne, Pauline and Harry we got down to business. James opened the orientation meeting, greeted and thanked us all for being here. After introductions , we had some housekeeping announcements and a brief discussion about work assignments. When we broke up for the morning some had a rest, went into town, walked to Super Brown’s Corner store and before we knew it we were back in the Vaka Lounge for our afternoon session of Orientation Part 2. Personal and group goals were discussed and listed in order, characteristics of an effective team were duly noted and a Cook Island Maori Language class closed the afternoon session. We shared a lovely meal of local dishes cooked by Sam Puati during which we talked about food and nothing at all. I could see some volunteers fading as they fought to keep their eyes open, so it was time to call it a day...looking forward to being part of Vaka 125 and cannot wait to see the children in the schools.

- Connie