Bula from Fiji! I'm writing from the small island of Taveuni, many call it the Garden Island because of the dense rainforest. A few of us decided to use some of our free days to make a short weekend trip here. We took a short bus trip from Savusavu to Buca Bay and then took a small ferry across the bay to get to Taveuni. From there it was just a short taxi ride to Maravu Resort where we got into a cheap hostel for $35 FJD a night.
The trip marked out in black
It's been really nice to be here and be able to step back from the daily grind; it feels like it's been longer than just 3 days. I've had a lot of time to reflect on what steps we need to take next on projects as well as think towards grad school and career. More and more I'm feeling that my place within the development field is evaluation and consulting. I was headed that way before I came here but seeing how many awesome things that Fijians are doing here to help other Fijians has really driven that home. As an outsider, I can be most useful by helping leaders within communities succeed in their efforts to empower people. Over the next couple of years, I really want to beef up my quantitative chops and take lots of classes that help me analyze and interpret data. I also have started looking at master's programs specifically focused on evaluation. More to come on this as I explore options.
The rest of the week was jam packed. We spent a lot of time at the front end of the week finishing up project proposals to be presented to the team throughout the week. I was glad to see throughout the project proposal presentations that a lot of the projects need tweaks here and there to become sustainable and that the team seems to be have the ability and vision to get them to that point.
I was also stoked because I was able to work with the antenatal nurse to develop a survey to evaluate patient experience in the antenatal clinic at the hospital. A few of us pre-tested the surveys on patients this week and made adjustments, and we'll carry out the surveys next week and then start looking at the data. It never occurred to me that most people don't love doing stuff like that I mentioned that I loved eval and two of the public health volunteers looked at me like I was nuts.
In addition to the surveys and project proposals, I spent one day out with the Ministry of Health assisting with a hand washing and typhoid prevention training for the turaga ni koro (village government liaisons) and community nurses for five villages. The MOH outreaches are good learning experiences, but I don't think they need us to go on them frequently. They know what they're doing. I also met up with the infection control nurse in the hospital to talk about improving implementation of infection control policy in the hospital. Because the hospital is low on resources, a lot of times there aren't soap or gloves available for them to use and so they see several patients without washing their hands, and only use gloves when absolutely necessary. We need to figure out what solutions the staff have in mind and help them implement them.
Here are a few pics:
The first of the three Bouma Falls on Taveuni
The third falls
Waitavala Natural Waterslide