First Impressions of Base and Project Life

By 5 years ago
Categories Fiji Islands
                We are two weeks in to our volunteer opportunity at Tovuto Base on Nanuya Lai Lai, in the Northern Yasawas, Fiji.  Most, if not all, of us have settled into our accommodations nicely and have begun to call our little Island community home.  Shortly after arriving on base, we found our way to our dorms, and since have bonded with fellow dorm-mates.  There are three groups on base, Construction, Education, and Marine and during mutual downtime it is an enjoyable experience listening to others talk about their days.  We are all placed on rotation teams for cooking and grounds duty, and in this way we have gotten to know most of the others on base regardless of group or dorm. 
                As part of the Marine team my days have largely revolved around diving.  At first we dove to make sure our skills were adequate, but this was quickly followed by species identification.  Currently all of the new Marine members have completed the necessary dives to become Advanced Open Water Certified and are now fine tuning our survey techniques.  The main part of our job is to survey reef health both inside and outside of Marine Protected Areas to measure how well the MPAs are working.  The Marine team will learn coral, invertebrate, and fish species and search for and identify “target species” to gauge MPA effectiveness. 
We are here to help the community.  Their livelihoods depend on the reefs, and our work will assist both through surveys and, perhaps more importantly, educating students in school.  They are the future of Fiji after all.  Two weeks in and I’m loving it!
-Phil Steffes

3 month volunteer, Sep-Dec 2013.