The Fijian Way

Lindsay’s Collection of Observations


Tuesday February 17, 2009

> One of the things I’ve enjoyed most while here in Fiji has been playing soccer with the kids.  It’s been awhile since I’ve kicked the soccer ball around;  soccer  was a sport I played throughout my childhood and  up until I was the captain my senior year of high school.  Since then, I’ve missed playing.  These Fijian kids play soccer a little different. Where in America, we gear up with shin guards, socks, and cleats, these children play barefoot and boy are they fearless! I don’t hesitate to kick off my shoes and play but do  admit that at times I can’t help but feel like a bit of a wimp. These kids come full force and I’m afraid for my bare- toes. Kids in America may like to run barefoot on the beach but you’d never see them playing soccer barefoot. 

>  My main duty here at the Gospel School for the Deaf has been providing the medical care to the children and staff. It’s been quite a learning experience. I rise each morning at 6:35am in time to remove my wet pajamas from sweating all night, hop in for a cold refreshing shower, by 7am I have my various sized band aids, ointments, and medical tray assembled table, with a line of children eager for attention. I say attention because, many mornings that’s exactly the medical care I give- a little TLC. Four year old Pedero sees me every single morning. I can usually expect him to be third in line. As he approaches me he signs “Good Morning”, then proceeds to twists his arm around to show me his elbow to reveal an old scar.  For me that means no such treatment is required, other than a dab of vasoline (all for the fact that he is expecting something) a blow of a kiss, a high five and then he’s off to school. Next in line might be fifteen year old Koleta. She lifts her leg up onto the table to reveal two large quarter sized boils that originate deep beneath the skin; Koleta’s boils are infected. She complains of pain throughout the night and when she wakes in the morning. If the boils multiple or if the infection can not be treated with topical antibiotic ointments, I will take her to the doctor.  I get a kick-out of it when the kids tell me that their leg is “broken”, it is most certainly not broken, perhaps they pulled a muscle or they’re sore from tennis lessons with Stephen. 

I’ve found that for many of the staff workers here, lack of knowledge is the biggest deficit. Many of them speak of these old “wives tales”- I find them to be pretty far out there. For example one woman stated that the reason she is infertile is because she “sat in the cold river water for too long when she was a child”, others believe that when a bone is broken the best remedy is to massage it (ahhh….NO!), or that “if you stand in the doorway with your arm up and someone walks under you that you could get a boil in your arm pit”- I find all of these to be rather odd yet interesting. I noticed that at the local hospital all of the windows are ajar- you’d NEVER see that in USA. In the USA there is such strict regulations on air quality these institutions are sterile environments. More to come on the medical stuff later….

> I have so much to say but I’ll finish with a cute story: The other night I had retreated back to my room in the girls hostel (remember I live with about 15 other girls). I had just said “good night” to them and I  was getting ready for bed when I realized I had left my book in Stephen’s bag.  I quickly ran out of my room closing the door behind me hoping to grab him before they closed up the boys hostel for the night. Upon arriving back to my room I was startled to see two girls peeking through my door. I have a shuttle -like door, you know the ones you can see into if you look through, at the correct angle? They hadn’t realized that I left the room so when I tapped them on the shoulder  they both jumped about 2 feet off the ground and scurried off to their room with beat red embarrassed faces. I chuckled under my breath and later was thinking that they must be curious about this American girl living in their hostel. What am I like, what kinds of things do I have in my big brown suite case, what book am I reading, what is that foreign white object (ipod) that’s attached to the headphone I place in my ears? As you can imagine iPods are not common among the deaf children. It reminded me of when my family hosted a student from France for two summers in a row, her name was Isabel.  I remember bring so interested by all of her French “things” and her French “ways”- made me think of what these girls may be thinking of me- this American girl. 

to be continued………..


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  1. * Ben Steel says:

    Living in West Africa I’ve heard many medical tales myself. My French teacher wouldn’t let his wife drink cold water when she was pregnant because he heard the baby would get too fat and complicate the birth. COLD WATER= 0 Calories.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 3 months ago

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