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Marcos reflects on his second Fiji Construction Program

By 5 years ago
Categories Fiji Islands

Bula, my name is Marcos, I am Portuguese, and this is my second time working with the GVI construction project in the Yasawan chain of islands, Fiji. After going through most of the GVI Phoenix projects, I decided to come to Fiji and join the rainwater harvesting project also as part of my research interests in human security. GVI is putting a lot of effort in installing complete drinking water systems (guttering, water tanks, cement bases, filters) in the different Yasawan villages, which means this is a task for several years. The project is also multifocal, meaning water security is connected to other important features such as primary education, sanitation, solar power and alternative gardening. When I first came to the Yasawas, in July 2011, the project had just begun and volunteers were just starting to work in the villages of Nacula, Naisisili and Malakati. In just a month, I could witness the impressive improvement of drinking water storage capacity and the difference this represented to the local population.  During the last year I have been in contact with the project managers and knew how the project had developed but I had to see it for myself and decided to join GVI for one more month this July. This is my final week.

Over the last year, the amount of work has been quite impressive and more villages have been included to take profit from the project. Being at a different stage of development as it is now, the work this year has been quite diversified. I started working at the premises of the Ratu Meli Memorial School helping fixing the toilets, then moved on to fixing the damaged guttering at the teachers’ houses. In the following weeks, the construction team moved to the island of Matacawalevu. In collabouration with the Honour Fiji Crew, we checked the needs at Flying Fish and proceeded to plant a garden at the Nasomolevu Catholic School premises in Vuaki village (water melons, long beans, Chinese beans and cabbages). The day was sunny and the work especially hard. We had to clear the ground first and get rid of all the roots lying around, then prepared the soil and planted the seeds. At the end of the day we visited the ship that serves as the base for the Honour Fiji team and had hot chocolate with them. The last day with them we had just received a new tank and proceeded to install it on one of the cement bases that had been built by previous volunteers.

In the last week and a half, the construction team has been working in the village of Matacawalevu, where no safe drinking water sources existed till now. The first step was to proceed to the site assessment with the help of the village chief and his spokesman whereupon we were invited to a sevusevu ceremony (the ceremonious drinking of kava), officiated by the village chief, his spokesman, his butler and the wife of the Methodist preacher. Five systems are being prepared now in the village, three 10,000 liter-tanks plus two 5,000 liter-tanks. As one of the bigger tanks was already in the village, though unconnected, we started by cleaning it, setting up the guttering and the cement base for it. After that we are moving to the other four spots, having everything ready to connect the tanks when they arrive from the mainland. Amidst so much work, last week we had the opportunity to witness a unique event in the waters of Nacula village, where we joined the marine research team. Those waters had been declared an MPA (Marine Protected Area) and therefore closed for fishing during the previous nine years. On the occasion of the 2012 Nacula day, and consequent fund raising to improve the village power capacity, they promoted a big fish drive (traditional way of fishing) where a circle of many people led by the fishermen drive the fish with the help of a huge string made up of palm leaves, squeezing the circle and making it increasingly smaller until the fish get easy to catch. I am now getting ready to leave the Yasawas but surely will come back in the near future.