LAND OF PRISTINE BLUE OCEAN

Fiji is an island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about four hours out from Australia and 5 hours from Hawaii. This island terrain is diverse and capturing, with the southeastern portion overflowing with tropical rainforest and the western portion covered in mountains. The average climate ranges between 68 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing for a warm and friendly environment for anyone that enjoys the sun. The island itself is slightly smaller than New Jersey.

Communal living is a true treasure of this land. There are as many as 332 islands that make up this country, but approximately only 110 are inhabited. This allows for a closeness in society that is unique to small populations. The majority of people living in Fiji are from the iTaukei ethnic group. The other approximately 40% are from Indian ancestry, European, part European, other Pacific Islanders, or Chinese descent. This unique history has produced a very unique but accepting society. Fijians, Indo-Fijians, and people of mixed Euro-Fijian descent, interact accepting with one another in the market, shops, and at their work. The only time one sees true distinction is in religion and domestic customs. Ethnic Fijians (iTaukei) feel a strong connection with their village or community through shared kinship. Households affiliate with households with which they share a male ancestor. This allows for a sub network of social and economic support among some iTaukei families.

Both the iTaukei and Indo-Fijian cultures have strong domestic customs tied to their religious beliefs and societal values. An instance where this can be seen is in how each approach their mealtimes. Indo-Fijians tend to separate their men and women during meal times while iTaukei eat evening meals together, serving the men first, with women attending to the preparing of meals. The exceptional environment of Fiji is truly captivating. From the variety of scenery ocean beaches, to lush rainforest, to their differing villages and towns. Today, Fiji is enriched by their variety of ethnic groups and love for a sense of community and harmony.

 

 

Recent projects in Fiji have included the following:

 
  •  Art classes to impoverished students 
  • Running  Anti-Drug Awareness campaigns and Arts Festivals
  • Music courses to special needs children and developed a new comprehensive music curriculum for the teachers at the school
  • Tutoring impoverished students at a learning center
  • Refurbished a learning center for children, laying new floors and painting several walls with decorative scenes
  • Taught parents on financial goal setting with Fijian and Hindi translations
  • Developed a new teaching curriculum for an informal settlement learning center
  • Taught physical education courses with novel exercises to children with physical disabilities
  • Held classes for children about good nutrition habits 
  • Designed and painted Health Promoting School signs for a World Health Organization program
  • Designed a first aid protocol with treatment kits and trained teachers at 3 schools on proper first aid, leaving the schools with supplies
  • Taught students about non-communicable diseases and prevention
  • Developed and carried out an overall health/wellness program evaluation of schools and reported the results to the Health Promoting Schools program by the WHO
  • Implemented a teacher training for PE courses at a special needs school
  • Taught rugby and volleyball courses for children 
  • Designed a nationwide maternal/child health audit and implemented it in major portions of the eastern and central Fijian health divisions for the Ministry of Health 
  • Built a garden for a local community health center and conducted nutrition consultation visits to families
  • Designed an audit of the CWM national public hospital food service program and delivered feedback in a presentation to key hospital staff and supervisors
  • Visited  center meetings and many other villages to design a 44-word, statistically rigorous survey and test an evaluation of the financial training program through a large microfinance bank
  • Coordinated and carried out a trash cleanup in an informal settlement
  • Choreographed and taught a Hibiscus festival dance for special needs children