By Eric Sale

After we exited Savu Savu we headed the Vuadomo village. As soon as we hopped off the transport we were greeted by dozens of villagers singing, clapping, and showering us with a welcome we will never forget. We were seated (on the ground) inside a shed (it wasn’t really a shed but they called it that for some reason) and were introduced to the village by Kali who requested their blessing in welcoming us into the villager’s homes. This was followed up by a ceremonial Kava circle (so they must have granted his request) and soon after were introduced to our new mothers, fathers, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, dogs, and just about anyone who would qualify as a family member. And when I say, “introduced” I am understating. We were embraced by the family and all its entirety. Within two days people would call us by name and wave to myself and everyone else in the group as we walked through the village. People both whom we knew, and did not.

And that is what makes the village so special, it is a community! Everyone is involved, and close together, it is more like a family of 100 people, than just people who know each other because they live next door. And that is so much different from how it is in America. Even the children half my age would help grown men twice my age with putting cement down on the sidewalk we were building for the village. We constructed two sidewalks, one that would lead to a loading zone, and the other that lead to an elderly woman’s house. We would then spend the afternoon swimming in their gorgeous waterfall and playing rugby, volleyball, and soccer with villagers, again some of whom we knew, and some of whom we did not. We were truly part of the village for a week, a home away from home. And that is what made it so incredibly hard to leave.

We had a phenomenal final night with the villagers and the party they had prepared for us, in retrospect it felt almost like a misguided celebration. We will all truly miss them. But on the flip side, I know everyone wants to return and when they do they will be welcomed with open arms. That’s all I got for now. Hope y’all enjoyed.