We are here in beautiful Fiji as a group of volunteers for the Winter 2017 program. As the winter team in Fiji, we will be here for the duration of three months starting in February and ending in April. We currently have a total of 18 volunteers here from all over the world including, Utah, Idaho, California, Florida, Hawaii, Chile, and Liberia. Each have their own story of why they are here. Some are students pursuing internships, some are here for adventure, others are here to find their calling, but one thing is for sure, and that is that we are all here to serve and HELP the people of Fiji.
But first, a little about Fiji!
Jocelyn, Lauren, Cam, and Abe with the kiddos
We are based on the island of Vanua Levu in the city of Savusavu. Vanua Levu is the second largest island in Fiji, the first being Viti Levu where the capital city Suva is located. Savusavu is one of the main towns of Vanua Levu and is also known as "Hidden Paradise". The population of Vanua Levu is around 130,000 people and is mainly made up of native Fijians and Indo-Fijians who were brought over as slaves during the 19th century. The main languages spoken are: English, Fijian, and Hindi.
We are currently in their cyclone season which means rain and lots of it. Last year in February, Fiji was struck by a cyclone; it was the largest one they have ever experienced. Cyclone Winston as it was named was rated as a category 5 hurricane and remnants of the damages left by the hurricane can still be seen today. When the sun is shining, it reaches around 80+ degrees Fahrenheit or 26+ degrees Celsius with up to 80% humidity.
While we are here in Fiji we will be working on projects hand-in-hand with groups and organizations already here and doing good in Fiji. This is one of the ways we keep our projects sustainable and continuing after we leave. Some of the the organizations we work with for example are: the Ministry of Health, local hospitals and clinics, schools, and village leaders. Our aim is to have the Fijian people invested in the change to continue it on instead of us coming in and telling them what to do. We want to avoid the "white Savior mentality" completely, and that is why integrating with the culture and creating lasting relationships with the people we work with is a priority for us. We try very hard to be culturally sensitive and adhere to their practices.
We are excited to be here and excited for you to share this adventure with us!
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VINAKA! (Thank you)