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Community Development Expedition in Fiji

Work with local people on community development projects in the South Pacific


Program Information

Work on a diverse and varied range of projects in traditional coastal villages, which may include; Helping community members to implement important livelihood strategies and protect the environment for future generations, assisting with key infrastructure construction projects, setting up community based income-generation initiatives, volunteering in local pre-schools and schools, and working on studies that inform important environmental management decisions.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Make your home among the luscious forests and mountainous backdrop of the Dawasamu District on the east coast of Viti Levu Island or the picturesque island of Caqalai.

You will be working alongside local people on a range of community development initiatives at one of our two bases in the Tailevu or Lomaiviti Province of Fiji.

As a hands-on member of this expedition team you will be involved with a diverse variety of key initiatives involving themes such as fresh water management, education enrichment, environmental monitoring and mapping, income generation, waste management, health awareness, women’s empowerment and sustainable agriculture practice.



The dramatic Fijian landscape is defined by sweeping volcanic hillsides, dense jungle, fresh water waterfalls, extensive beaches and colorful coral reefs. In this picturesque environment you will set to work helping community members to develop important infrastructure for future generations. Please note, this program offers durations up to 24 weeks. Speak to your Country Expert for more details of extending your stay in-country.

Highlights include…

Depending on the community needs and project direction, involvement in a range of activities and experiences which might include: Directly participating in the construction and installation of rainwater harvesting systems, building vegetable gardens, volunteering in local kindergartens and schools, helping rural communities set up income generating projects, interacting with villagers and making lifelong friends, visit idyllic traditional Fijian villages and be immersed in the Fijian way of life. On weekends or pre/post your volunteer work you can enjoy island hopping between stunning remote island locations with beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery, participating in activities such as scuba diving, dolphin watching, hiking to waterfalls, snorkeling, traditional ceremonies, and Fijian language lessons.

Program Details

Project Life

The team rises bright and early to prep for the day ahead. You will review current projects and then head to the project site with your team to start work.

You will stay in basic dormitory accommodation with a communal kitchen and work area and living space to relax with fellow volunteers. In the evenings the team will gather to eat and share stories with meals are cooked by teams on a rotational basis.

Project work generally runs Monday to Friday with weekends providing time to relax and explore the local area.

Fiji’s many charms provide a wealth of opportunity for the traveller, world class dive sites, tropical beaches, island hopping and snorkeling are some of the most popular ways for volunteers to take it all in. Fiji’s famous culture, warmth and hospitality will make every adventure a pleasure. For more information on your time off project, see the Free Time section above.

Project Details

The goals and priorities of this expedition are discussed and determined in collaboration with the local communities of the Dawasamu District. There are five core focuses of the expedition: WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene), health and nutrition, income generation, education enrichment and empowerment, and environmental management and protection.

In both locations GVI works to enrich the education available to children and our expedition volunteers will be involved with various interactions at the local schools during the expedition duration.

Overall, our program aims to assist villagers to adapt their livelihoods in response to the changing pressures on traditional life due to both environmental and social change. GVI focuses on empowering communities by actively engaging important issues involved with the factors that inform their quality of life, such as access to fresh water, access to education, food security, and options for income generation.

Volunteers help the local communities develop small income generating projects, assess environmental impacts, enrich available education, and solve basic infrastructure issues through improvements and new initiatives. In comparison to other areas of Fiji, this district is relatively untouched by tourism and there are few sources of income for the local community.

Dawasamu’s short, mid, and long-term objectives:

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Dawasamu:

1. Improving waste management in Dawasamu by developing community-based waste management solutions
2. Introducing and promoting the principles of WaSH in the Dawasamu District including First Aid
3. Create alternative livelihood projects which can help women generate income within the village
4. Improving English literacy levels and implementing holistic educational techniques into the learning environment

How this program makes a difference

GVI works directly with local communities by supplying volunteers to help with initiatives that improve quality of life, enrich education, and reduce risks associated with climate change and natural disaster events.

So far our initiatives have successfully increased access to fresh water, improved education resources, enriched educational opportunities, and expanded income generation options for these communities.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


We have been running various community development and educational programs in Fiji since 2010, working to make a long-term impact in the community, in collaboration with our local partners. Furthermore, each goal and objective is determined in collaboration with the local communities and partners of the Dawasamu District. GVI works to develop alternative livelihood strategies, gender equality initiatives, rainwater harvesting projects and to enrich the education available to children. These initiatives assist with further community development, and providing better education can empower the students to reach their aspirations and broaden their employment opportunities in the future.


All these initiatives allow us to offer support to the community and our local partners, and to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as #1- No poverty, #4 – Quality Education, #5 – Gender Equality, #6 – Clean Water and Sanitation and #12 – Responsible Consumption and Production.


Project Objectives

 


GVI Dawasamu’s Long-term Objectives:


1. Improving waste management in Dawasamu by developing community-based waste management solutions


2. Introducing and promoting the principles of WaSH in the Dawasamu District including First Aid


3. Creating alternative livelihood projects which can help women generate income within the village


4. Providing education and capacity training on nurturing seeds, planting sustainably, fertilizing, and maintaining a family-sized vegetable plot


5. Promoting the importance of a healthy eating through a better understanding of nutrition and the benefits of a balanced diet


6. Promoting the importance of preventive health measures


7. Improving English literacy levels and implementing holistic educational techniques into the learning environment


8. PEMAC: Arts, Music and PE – Providing lessons to follow the Fijian scheme of work for each class.


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Community work workshop
  • Construction materials
  • Construction techniques training
  • First Aid & CPR training
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Transfer to base location
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. Our minimum staff to participant ratio is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Country Exploration

Joining a GVI program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer. Many decide to travel before or after their GVI experience, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.


Our own long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Weekend Trips

Dawasamu dolphins

A short boat ride away you can visit the famous pod of dolphins that reside all year round on Moon Reef.


Dawasamu surrounds

Go for a hike into the nearby forests and swim in hidden freshwater waterfalls.


Diving

If you are diving trained you can enjoy scuba diving at the various resorts and dive sites in the region. Home to abundant marine life, colourful corals and steep drop-offs. Get lucky with your dive, and visibility can exceed a massive 40m.


Suva

The capital city of Suva is known for its relaxed atmosphere, energetic nightlife, large farmers market and atmospheric port.


Historical excursions

Explore the history of this island nation by visiting the Fiji Museum in Suva, where you can find ancient tribal artefacts, one of the best exhibitions on tribal art in the Pacific.


Levuka

The old historical capital of Fiji, Levuka, makes for an interesting day trip and is accessible by ferry and small boat and located on the nearby Ovalau Island.


Further Travels

Nadi

Explore the town of Nadi with its bustling markets or visit one of Fiji’s famous island resorts for a day of luxury and pampering.


Sabeto hot springs

Explore the town of Nadi with its bustling markets or visit one of Fiji’s famous island resorts for a day of luxury and pampering.


Island Hopping

Why not try island hopping around the 20 volcanic islands of the Yasawa group. These remote islands are characterised by white beaches, crystal blue lagoon and dramatic rugged hills, some with summits 600 meters above sea level.


River Safari

From Pacific Harbour, join a river safari into the heart of Fiji


Fiji’s Nature Parks

Consider a trip to the Sigatoka National Park, where you’ll find a miniature desert of rolling sand dunes or a more relaxing option would be the Coral Coast and the Kula Eco Park, Fiji’s only wildlife park.


Shark Dive

Dive with bull sharks in Bega Lagoon, one of the world’s most famous shark dives destinations.


Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of the GVI experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your GVI program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Languages

Fijian is the native language of roughly 450,000 Fijians, and other languages spoken on the island include English and Fiji Hindi.


Festivals

There are festivals throughout the year, the most notable being Fiji Day, celebrating Fiji’s independence. This is celebrated in October with a week of religious and cultural ceremonies.


Cooking

The national dish of Fiji is Kokoda, which is a combination of fresh fish, pickled in lemon juice. Coconut milk is then added to it along with tomatoes, chillies and seasoned with salt and served as a starter. A large part of Fijian cuisine features fish and seafood, along with the staples of taro root, cassava, kumala sweet potato and breadfruit.


Local Handcrafts

Fiji has a thriving tourist souvenir industry, and local artists produced many souvenirs such as tanoas, war clubs, throwing clubs and intricately carved wooden items including bowls and dishes.


Spirituality & Religion

The official religion of the Republic of Fiji is Christianity, which is practiced by the majority of the population, who attend the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma found throughout the country. Hinduism is also practiced in the country.


Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ £195
 

Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Dawasamu's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVIFijiIslands

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.