We did venture away from the pool and hammocks...for about half a day.
40 minutes from Castaway Island on the larger island of Malolo is a traditional Fijian village - Shell village. About 400 people live there - ruled by a chief, without many of the basic amenties we take for granted but with facebook and satellite tv.
The villagers make their living from fishing, selling crafts to tourists and working at the nearby island resorts.
There's a local hall, a (relative)mansion for the chief, a school, a medical centre, a rugby pitch and lots of shack-style houses.
We were able to have a look through the goods for sale, walk through the village and visit the school.
147 students attend the school(kinder to grade 8) which has moved from 67th (out of 69) of Fijian schools to number one in the last 8 years. This is due, in large part, to a new headmaster with very strict rules (daily health inspections, mandatory 1/2 cleaning chores for each student, no swimming or tv during the week, compulsory cadets) and an engaging smile when asking visitors for donations.
The kids bought tacky souvenirs and made friends with the local children.
I took photos (completely unable to capture the colours or the feel of the island) and pondered happiness amongst the poverty, the lack of stuff but the sheer abundance of love and good humour and the casual disregard for the natural beauty (so much rubbish just discarded along what should be pristine coast).
The contrast of the resort and the village lifestyle was stark.
It was fascinating and uncomfortable.
I want to know how to help - more than just buying some stuff I don't need and handing over my spare Fijian dollars.
Next time we'll be more prepared - medical supplies are hard for them to source but we can buy them easily here and take them with us. We'll also stock up on books, stickers and stationery. Practical works for me. And I like the idea that there'll be a next time.