GALLERY: Bay students assist Fijian community
FIJI is well-known for being a popular holiday destination, but for Hervey Bay student Abby Johnson, it's almost like a second home.
A Year 12 student at Fraser Coast Anglican College, Abby had the opportunity to visit Fiji for 10 days earlier this month along with two teachers and seven other students to complete service and cultural immersion projects while experiencing the Fijian culture.
"We were welcomed so warmly by the community and everyone would say hello to us and we got to stay with some people in the village and eat with them," Abby said.
"We did a lot of service projects up there like painting and plastering for their community hall which was very important for them.
"It's where they have events like weddings, funerals and public events."
Prior to leaving for Fiji, the students fundraised as much money as they could through car washes and chocolate sales to raise enough to donate to projects in the local Fijian community.
The funds came in particularly handy when they visited a number of different parts of the country.
Junior school teacher Annisa Grumetza said a stand out part of their trip was assisting single mothers and children through meals cooked by students.
"We went to Momi Bay where we were able to deliver food to those really doing it tough like the single mothers and children," she said.
"We all went to one ladies house and she showed us how to make the food then we went in a mini bus and distributed it."
The group were due to visit Somosomo on the Yusawa Islands but their plans were changed when a Cyclone hit the area.
"That part was cancelled but we still got to go into the village and we were taught by the local ladies how to weave bracelets," Mrs Grumetza said.
"We ended up being able to do a tour through the village and learn about natural medicines which they make with things they plant in their gardens."
They also visited Nausori Village in the highlands where they had no electricity for three nights before finishing their trip in Nadi.
For Abby, there was one person in particular who, for her, made a lasting impact.
"We got to meet one of only two female chiefs in Fiji and she's over 90-years-old," she said.
"She let us into her home and it was a really huge honour to also get a photo with her."
Abby said it was the sense of community which she admired most about the Fijian culture.
"In the highlands where we did service, people would walk from house to house and sit down and talk to you," she said.
"They would treat us us though we were family and not just visitors.
"That's something I took back is that we need to be more engaged with our community."