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Living is good (in Fiji)
Thanks for your read and good fortune if you consider the Peace Corpservice! Last weekend we completed my graduation in Fiji and celebrate what I consider to be one of the greatest accomplishments of my ministry. Whilst the Peace Corps Peace Corps is not focusing on infrastructural work, it was really a thrilling undertaking to contribute to the creation of a community-driven, needs-driven work.
Having felt inactive in the month after Winston and witnessed the battle for reconstruction and normalization (which has not yet happened), I met one of my colleagues from the Ministry of Health and had a brainstorming session. There was a great need for fellowship, I just needed to know what part we could play to fill a part of.
The site was a marriage of my two different areas of work between learning and healthcare, it fulfilled a need of the fellowship (54 years of chronical lack of rain, compounded by climatic changes and the destruction of Cyclone Winston), and it was small in size to cope with the brief amount of work I remained in my work.
Worked with local, state, and educational leaders to find the best way to meet their needs while recognizing the issues we would face as a result of rehabilitation. The Peace Corps Small Project Assistance Grant is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is aimed at providing resistance to both human and environmental impacts of global warming.
Instead of going into detail about the special features of the peculiarities of the projekt, I will present the highlight and present the remainder in the form of images. On the way there we were confronted with some major obstacles, which for me involved an unanticipated health journey to Thailand, two short rainy days during the drought period, the relocation of my partner to another sub-division and the shortage of manpower/materials due to reconstruction work to Winston.
And I can't ignore the fact that a mains was accidentally chopped the eve of the project's opening, causing 10,000 litres of rainwater to flow out of the tank, almost drowning the soil. Nevertheless, the process is over. A few WASH and waterproofing courses were held a few week ago to develop some of the knowledge the pupils learnt in previous sittings.
Now it is up to the educators and the fellowship to uphold the teachings they have learnt, as they now have the means to enhance their own levels of hygienic and hygienic excellence. Now that this is over, and only two longer months to go, the moment has come to unwind and spend my last few years.
This is a brief summary of some of the reason why we call Fiji Peace Corps Volunteer our home. Whilst I have doubts that I have many enthusiastic fans of the blogs, I apologize to those of you who are really interested in my Fiji lifestyle that this is not the best way to get this information in the last few month.
However, I will do my best to give a cooked copy of the last two moths, which includes everything from mangrove crabs at night to an unforeseen coloscopy in Thailand. June was mainly devoted to the youth healthcare training with the healthcare group. This year things were a little more difficult, as all but one high class were disastrously affected by Cyclone Winston and also made more difficult by our shortage of transport.
Fortunately we are a felxible group (in the truest sense of the word), so we pushed 10 persons into our ambulances and made our presentation possible in canopies. In the post-Cyclone Winston period, my work has shifted towards the fight against infectious diseases, mainly through the implementation of educational activities with LOC. I have worked with UNICEF, Saving the Children and several other NGOs and representatives of governments to develop engaging and efficient WWASH activity schemes in municipalities and colleges in our area.
In addition, I spend the last two month working with the Ministry of Health to define the detail of a small USAID initiative to improve the WASH and drinking and sanitation infrastructures of a country college in my region. I worked with my colleague and the grassroots to put the subsidy together and we are now working on the realisation of the work.
I will stress the special features of this exercise as soon as it is concluded in the next few weathers. In line with our message, Fiji Peace Corps members were asked to participate in the July 4 ceremony at our Suva outpost. This was a great occasion to get to meet some of the great work of the Peace Corps here in Fiji and also an great occasion to party one of my favorite vacations with free beers!
Surprised and a little disappointed that my venture had just started, I approved and flew through Hong Kong to Bangkok on Friday. I was a little puzzled as to why Thailand was better than the Americans, as they have the same distances in the travelling season, I quickly commented. Last weekend was luxuriously at the Pearl Resort for the Peace Corps' last horah, our Close of Service conference.
Whilst the dinner was great, and I loved my pile of lard and four full dishes per dish..... the most notable part of this event was the connection we had with each other. To drink a last drink as a group, or to sit around the Dunoa and listen to JC and Filipe singing some of my tunes, was really a decisive point in my ministry.
For a lot of contributors, it was never really a work. I cannot express my thankfulness to the Fiji population in words, but I hope I will do my best over the next two month to communicate this to the relatives and acquaintances I have made along the way. Biggest group of guys I've ever worked with!
It' fun how you spent month and month to count down on something and then it goes by before you even know what it was. That'?s how I think about my parents' stay in Fiji. The second stage of the journey was to try riding in Fiji, which is no small task. The tide in Fiji can be a boat issue, and if you don't manage the timing properly, you can often get stuck.
I can understand why this would be a cause for worry for a new arrival in Fiji who travels in the dark, without knowing the destinations or shades of shipping. Fijian age. Next Sunday we made our laps in my parish, met some of the nursing staff I work with at Rakiraki Hospital and had a cup of coffee in the mornings with some of my staff at the Ministry of Education.
Then we headed towards Suva to see some of our colleagues at the Peace Corps Headquarters. I will not forget the following day's happenings, when I took them to my first home in Fiji, Burebasaga village. Mumo Tunai gave some wonderful accounts of Fijian traditions and local culture, which are better than anything I could have imagined.
Sitting around the river I could not help but think about how cold it was that my folks were the main visitors to the town I call home and are now part of my Fiji area. Chic resort with umbrellas and sand beach are beautiful, but this was a different and more rewarding time.
So we headed back to Nadi for our goodbye dinner, which for me contained the last piece of meat I was going to have for the next 4 month at Denarau Marina Yachting Center. Sadly this means for me a homecoming to clean, to fight with the cockroaches, to wash my hands and to cook three dishes a days, while I tried to reconcile my job and my live.... but somehow I made it as a visitor before these two wars.
With all that has been said, however, I can say frankly that this was one of the funniest things I have experienced in Fiji in my two years - and for all the other PCV' s who read this, I strongly suggest that you convince your home to live this part of your world! I' ll see you in 5 month!
Most of my homeland in the Ra county is left desolate, and most townships are almost two month after Winston without a roof. This is one of the major challenge of being a small archopelago of central South Pacific archipelagoes - there just aren't enough construction material in Fiji to satisfy the need. Concerning the power, it was given back to a small part of Rakiraki, but the vast majority of the provinces do not anticipate the lamps to be on again in the next few month.
After Winston, I spend my immediate post-Winston week working with my educational staff on emergency relief. Throughout the campaign, the Fijian authorities focused on training and quickly worked to re-open the school with the help of UNICEF and Saving the Children. It is a real fountain of Fiji? proud. Catastrophic conditions came to an official end last night and the emergency operations will now be in the responsibility of our respective missions.
Fiji's authorities have promised a programme to support the reconstruction of the municipalities, but in view of the enormous devastation, this will probably continue into the new year. Nevertheless, my work with the Ministry of Health has resumed and we have resumed our education programme, which was suspended by Winston after only two wards.
Whilst the nursing staff work to vaccinate and care for ill pupils, our peer educator and I work to teach the pupils about the importance of safe lifestyle, sex, reproductive and hygienic conditions in a post-cyclone world. One of our isolated lakeside towns, for example, used to have 135 restrooms for about 1000 inhabitants.
Wínston wrecked 118 out of 135. I' m also working on the opportunity to manage a small subsidy through the US Agency for International Development to tackle the problem of ensuring safe waters in one of our community. There is a great need, so I am working with a colleague in the Department of Public health to help me find a targeted group and get the proposition off the ground.
Even though my spare hours are running out, I hope to get a subsidy and a small, clear plan. Although Winston has crushed many of my intentions for an even more fertile year than the last, I am still grateful every single working days that I have the chance to stay in my fellowship and give back in every way imaginable!
We have the special honour, as Fiji Peace Corps Volunteer, to go one stage further and serve our land in this beautiful and cultural archipelago. Fiji's clean sandbeach, luxuriant jungle and crystalline water are enough to seduce any tourist looking for paradise, but as a volunteer we had a great chance to see the real spring of Fiji's warmth: in the heart of the population.
Whilst the tempo of Fiji may sometimes be a frustrating resource for an aspiring voluntary worker, it also provides room for reflecting on the core beliefs adopted by this close group. If you are a nation with a total of almost one million inhabitants, you will soon experience the tremendous value of Fijians' family ties and close ties.
Ever since we arrived almost 20 month ago, the Fijians have been welcoming us in their houses, family, and souls. As a volunteer, you have a long and productive track record of working with our Fiji community on a variety of activities ranging from developing youngsters to strengthening them. Whilst the Peace Corps has certainly encouraged a favourable evolution in this land over our 44-year long story, we as peace corps are also grateful to the Fiji community for their unsurpassed level of welcome and friendliness in welcoming newcomers.
While governments and troops are working to stabilise the country, Fiji remains faced with very realistic threat of devastating agriculture, contagious diseases and stagnating economies. As our heart aches for the peoples of our loved ones, many of whom have suffered for the rest of their life, we have also experienced first-hand the power and resistance of the Fiji population.
Almost a whole year has gone by since Cyclone Winston ripped through our paradise, and my comprehension of the Filipino mind has never been more clear. Despite all the barriers ahead, Fiji's smiles remain infectious and omnipresent. It' means taking your own sweet moments to join a buddy for a nice drink of coffee or two, to empathise with their wars.
It' means getting together for a football or football match and maintaining those bonds of fellowship that could not be destroyed by Winston's wind-blow. I have no doubts that Fiji will ascend more strongly than Winston. We have experienced this land, our second home, as a volunteer who have never before supported each other.
Although you may not have had the chance to divide your relationship with the Fiji population, I trust that this history and the tales that have been told by the thousand of Fiji RPCV' s will give you an insight into why we care so much about this small state.
When our churches begin to build themselves up again, I trust they can do so with the generosity of our US fellowship at home. Consider making a contribution to help the Fiji citizens in rebuilding #strongerthanwinston. Fiji was ravaged by tropical cyclone Winston on 20 February.
Still don't have the timeframe or power to put together some coherent thoughts about the blurry times of the last three week, but I will try to do so in a few different ways. Therefore I will first describe my first experiences with Winston.
Since Winston was bred in the convection zone of the Pacific Ocean (a meaty area to the northern part of Fiji that our monsoon season produces), he has always been a naughty motherfucker. Winston's next ploy was to drive a few hundred leagues southwards of Fiji before returning northbound on his way back to Tonga.
As we were concerned about our mates in Tonga, our lives continued here in Fiji. Only a few workdays later we heard that Winston could make another turn in the direction of Fiji. The Peace Corps began to issue alerts about possible volunteers' possible consolidations as U-Turn predictions became more and more common in meteorological model.
But the first examples showed that Winston came through the Lau Isles and was travelling near the Kadavu Isles just to the South of Suva. This would be a risk of flood for the southeast of Viti Levu, but would protect the continent of Fiji from serious damage. That was the predominant meteorological prediction during the whole weeks, so the schedule until the days before the storms was that I would consolidated in my home with Alan, the other Ra voluntary, and only the Viti Levu southeast of it.
As the prevailing meteorological patterns were predicting this southeastern route as a Class 3 system, I also looked at the runaway system that was predicting a route over the warm Bligh Waters, which allowed Winston to achieve the Class 5 level of depth. By the time I got home and reviewed the meteorological forecasts, the Fiji Meteorological Society had altered the menace chart - the patterns had adapted to the other pattern that showed a northern trace.
When I went to the neighboring buildings to alert them to the arrival of the cyclone, they usually would laugh about it and offer me a cup of rum. From what they heard on the radio that night, the cycle was still supposed to be to our north. Winston's unpredictable way, and no historic priority ignored them all.
The Yasawas are crossed by a characteristic cyclon railway from the northeast. Very few, if any, incidents of a cycle traveling from Lau to the US westward causing a straight eyewall blow over Ra - and none that has been captured at Cat 5 Int. Apparently Winston had increased the velocity from 6 km/h to 26 km/h over night.
When I went into the city with my duffel sack, I was told where I was going and warned that Nadi was always flooded during the hurricanes and that I would be safe here. There was a fresh breeze, but everything was like every other day: salesmen settled in, folks started the barbecue pit in the city - and here we..... were on the run.
Concerning other Volunteer Workers, the Peace Corps succeeded in chartering air crafts to Koro and Kadavu Island, despite the heavy wind, to welcome the Volunteer Workers in Suva and take them to a safe haven. At the check-in we were received by three of our great Peace Corps members who established some groundwork and talked about where we would ride out the wind.
Willston landed on Taveuni early Saturday and rushed towards Viti Levu at 6pm. Winsston went into the world' s fastest ever landed windstorm straight behind Super Typhoon Haiyan, who hit the Philippines in 2013. In Nadi at about 7 pm we began to see more wind, and we were all brought together in the central meeting area.
So we spent the day around the river and drank some ground water while we listened to the breeze on the ceilin. Sadly, our room was at the other end of the site, which necessitated a cycle tour - in hindsight not the best notion. Unfortunately, the same does not apply to the other parts of Fiji.
Immediate action by the Peace Corps was to make contacts with all points of consolidation: Suva, Nadi, Labasa and Taveuni to verify that all our voluntary workers are in safety. In view of the fact that the channels of communications were destroyed, it took some considerable amount of effort before all sides came to the foreground. Because of dilapidated pipes, shrubbery, washed-out footbridges and general rubble, the federal administration imposed a travelling prohibition to grant first aid teams preferential treatment to injured towns.
With the commitment of our Peace Corps personnel, the peace corps was able to take a tour to see what happened to our loved ones in the affected areas after the curfews were lifting. Read more in my next Winston-mail! At the beginning of December, together with about six other PCTs and members of the Reproductive Health Authority of Fiji, I made a youths promotion campaign possible.
Conceived by one of our Suva-Volunteer in collaboration with RFHAF and the International Planned Parenthood Fund, the aim of the Campus was to strengthen young people in their management and team abilities, understand healthier lifestyles, mitigate the complexity of the roles of the sexes in Fiji and increase their awareness of CDM.
At the end of the day we had a dinner in an elegant Suva resort, with a speech by our Country Director and the US Ambassador to Fiji. Like any Peace Corps projects, sustainable development is the keys to success. The Ra provinces of Fiji offer only pubes that are treatable for about 15% of the population - therefore the disease has become a serious problem due to the poor health of the population.
When I met with some of my colleagues at the Health Department, I purchased the 2015 sample recordings of drinking fountains and used them in combination with their typhoid and E.coli infection hotspots to create a schedule of targeted schooling for the work. Now, as the 2016 academic year is in full course again, my after-school programme is also in our local authority libraries.
In a few gradual and little-used month, the computer we received as part of our Peace Corps Fellowship Grants programme is now a big success. It was a multi-month process, so it's great to see that the fellowship is at last benefiting from it. We' re back to providing youth healthcare training at elementary school level throughout the provinces.
At the moment I am with the Teacher of our clinic to talk about questions of sex and adolescence, and also with our nutritionist to inform about general well-being and exercise. I' ve been really looking forward to this season, because traveling with this group every single night is great and it really gives me a powerful feeling of performance on something palpable.