Dawasamu will be your home for the duration of this program, and its beauty is both distinct and vast. Set in an area with a mountainous backdrop on the East Coast of Viti Levu Island, once you arrive at base camp you will be hit with a peculiar serenity, seldomly experienced in the hustle and bustle of life in a modern city.
You will be working alongside other international participants on this program, forming part of a dynamic team supporting key initiatives focusing on:
- fresh-water management,
- water security,
- water and sanitation hygiene,
- community needs assessment,
- monitoring and mapping,
- waste management,
- health awareness and
- sustainable agriculture practice.
Our team on the ground does extensive research before collaborating with local community leaders and representative groups regarding the most pressing and relevant issues that need to be addressed and participants work on various different projects based on when they go on this specific program.
- Taking part in a range of activities ranging from installation of rainwater harvesting systems and assessing and enhancing water security, building veggie gardens, volunteering in local kindergartens and schools, interacting with villagers, all while making lifelong friends from a range of cultural and geographical backgrounds.
- Participants will learn all about traditional Fijian villages, becoming immersed in the local way of life, which is not only vastly different to living in a mainstream city, but rather alluring, and many of our participants dream of staying in Dawasamu long after the project comes to completion!
- Fancy seeing more of Fiji? There are many stunning locations as a part of weekend (or post-project) side-trips, that can be arranged. These including scuba diving, dolphin watching, hiking, snorkeling and even taking part in Fijian language lessons wherever possible.
"Silana is small village in the Dawasamu district where I had travelled to learn about traditional Fijian culture and to work with GVI regarding successful methods of generating income to fund members who attend the University of the South Pacific, in addition to build sustainable development projects and rainwater harvesting and preservation. Working with the GVI team has been a great way to learn more about the incredible work that GVI guys are doing every day. It is a wonderful way to stay connected and learn about ongoing social and environmental projects and helping GVI amplify the work done by changemakers internationally."
What's Not Included
As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm! The team likes to rise early and be fully prepared for the day ahead. There is a daily review of projects, helping to prioritise what has to be done on the project site once the day gets going and once the team gets to work.
Program work tends to run like a traditional work week, from Monday to Friday, with weekends providing you with enough time off to explore the local area and to get to know your fellow participants.
Accommodation during your stay includes basic dormitory style rooms, with a communal kitchen, work area and general living space. The team likes to eat together in the evenings, sharing stories about experiences from the day, as well as learning more about each other and the various countries the various participants have travelled from. Meals are cooked on a rotational basis by teams, which will be communicated as soon as you arrive on base for your introductory training.
Fiji is especially known for three things: culture, warmth and hospitality, so you are bound for an exhilarating experience that will not only assist your professional development, but your personal development too!
What's Not Included
As mentioned previously, the goals of this program are determined in collaboration with the local communities of the Dawasamu District. Some of the core focuses, include:
- water, sanitation & hygiene initiatives,
- health and nutrition,
- educational empowerment and
- environmental management, along with the activities mentioned previously.
GVI focuses on enhancing water security and WASH (water and sanitation for health) practices in the Dawasamu district. Typical activities on the program include:
- Conducting WASH awareness workshop in schools to encourage hygienic behaviour practices.
- Installing hand washing stations.
- Installing rainwater harvesting systems as rainwater can be utilised as a long-term solution to water shortages.
This program may also include elements of community based work, depending on the needs on the ground. This may include construction, women’s empowerment initiatives, research and project development, education enrichment and community based workshops. Participants will help to support community members and decision makers with long term and sustainable solutions to issues on the ground.
Dawasamu's short, mid and long term objectives:
Firstly, it is important to note that all of GVI’s 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 SDG’s 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.
When you arrive on base, an important part of your orientation will be around the history of and importance of the UN SDG’s. You will learn about the specific goals relating to the initiatives in Dawasamu, including No Poverty, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water & Sanitation, and Responsible Consumption & Production. Our goal is for you to learn as much about these as possible in order for you to continue to act as active global citizens once you head back home, helping to fulfil our long standing mission of building a global network of individuals who are united by a passion to make a difference.
In terms of specific objectives in Dawasamu, the following are important to consider:
- Improving waste management in the area by developing community-based waste management solutions;
- Introducing and promoting the principles of WASH in the Dawasamu District, also including first aid;
- Creating alternative livelihood projects which can help women generate income within the village; as well as
- Improving English literacy levels and implementing holistic educational techniques into the learning environment.
What's Not Included
Participating with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Fiji!
Optional Side Trips
Fiji is a beautiful and exotic destination where you will find picturesque white sand beaches, world class dive sites, and Fiji’s famous culture of hospitality and warmth. As an island nation, many of your potential activities are water based! Starting locally, just a short boat ride away you can visit the famous pod of dolphins that reside all year round on Moon Reef or hike into forests and swim in hidden waterfalls or visit one of Fiji’s famous island resorts.
In the water, for those that are not dive qualified you could enrol in a scuba diving course and dive the various 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.
Fiji’s capital city, Suva, is only a few hours from all our project sites, known for its relaxed atmosphere, energetic nightlife, large farmers market and atmospheric port. Here you can visit the Fiji Museum, where you can find ancient tribal artefacts, one of the best exhibitions on tribal art in the Pacific, or read up on Fiji’s cannibal past. The old historical capital of Fiji, Levuka, which makes for an interesting day trip, is accessible by ferry and small boat and located on the nearby Ovalau Island.
Further Travelling Opportunities
A little further afield, the possibilities just keep on coming. Explore the town of Nadi with its bustling market, nearby hot springs at Sabeto or get a feel for the local atmosphere at a rugby match. From Pacific Harbour, join a river safari into the heart of Fiji or dive with bull sharks in Bega Lagoon, one of the world’s most famous shark dives.
After your program you could 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 metres above sea level.
Staying on dry land, you might 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.
Program Manager Caqalai
Meet Claire, our Program Manager on our Caqalai Base in Fiji. Claire received her degree in agricultural and environmental sciences and is also an avid diver and marine conservationist.
She has lived and worked on various continents around the globe and has extensive experience in the diving industry.
While travelling Claire has come across earthquakes, cyclones, volcanoes and pirates!!! Talk about living on the edge! Working for GVI is an adventure in itself, luckily not the dangerous kind. She was first attracted by GVI because of our good reputation within the industry and she likes the fact that we employ, train and give back to the communities that we work in.
Meet Zara, our awesome Operations Manager here in Fiji. Zara started out as an eager education volunteer right here in Fiji back in 2014 and she was impressed by the stunning location in Fiji and GVI's volunteering ethos. She has been with us ever since and has worked her way up to Operations Manager, overseeing all the logistics on our base.
Zara is a water baby and she loves to get into the water for a dive/swim at any opportunity I can. As a GVI staff member in Fiji, she gets the opportunity to dive into the South Pacific paradise often. "When your job doesn’t feel like a job because you are getting the opportunity to do what you love is a blessing! GVI is a one big family based organisation and I appreciate working for a company who believes in working together with communities there is a grassroots non-hierarchy approach. This approach I believe is a fantastic way of successfully delivering volunteering projects."
Meet Michele, our brilliant program manager in Fiji. She has a lot of travel experience in the US around Europe. She volunteered for one year in Mombasa Kenya on the childcare programme, became Project Manager for three years and worked in South Africa on an under 18's programme.
She loves GVI because ''this job gives me the opportunity to work with people who volunteer from all around the world and being able to work alongside individuals who had the same drive and passion as me, willingness to give up their time, share their skills and knowledge to assist the schools and the community groups we work with.
I have had the honour to work with some amazing partners in different countries who have welcomed me into their communities and let me be a part of their lives , giving me the opportunity to grow and learn. Their strength and their faith and their beliefs that all things can be achieved if you have hope will always stay with me.''
Dane Lee Marx
Meet Dane, GVI's cheerful country director for Fiji. He has spent several years as the Conservation and Ecology Manager on Frégate Island, a small private island in the Seychelles. There he had been fortunate to have overseen and implemented projects ranging from monitoring and protection of rare birds, invertebrates and sea turtles to wide-scale habitat restoration as well as management of significant operations responsibilities.
After leaving that position he took a year off to do some travelling – six months of flyfishing, camping and exploring new Zealand, visiting some friends and family in Australia, and some exceptional diving and island hopping in Indonesia. He holds a BSc in Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences, an Hons. in Zoology, and a MSc in Conservation Biology.
For him, GVI is an exciting organisation as it carries out an impressive range of high impact, grass-roots level projects in some of the most interesting locations across the globe. This and the combined focus on both community based development and a deep seated conservation aligned perfectly with his own interests and passions.
Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.
When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!