Students Aid Fiji Through Community Service
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Students Aid Fiji Through Community Service

Students who traveled to Fiji for one of our two service-oriented programs did an impressive amount of work this summer. They provided hundreds of hours of assistance during the Introduction to Community Service and Sun, Sand and International Service programs.

Here are among the projects the completed:

Home Improvement

Students in both programs dug foundations, built walls, and added plaster for new toilets for local families in the Weriki settlement. Before the students arrive, community members request projects, and they are prioritized by greatest need.

One family that lives down the road from the eco-lodge base house requested a toilet since their pit toilet latrine kept flooding their backyard, causing sanitation problems. The Rustic Pathways Foundation has been working with this family for some time. Students previously built part of their house and were scheduled to do a footpath so the family members don’t get muddy when they walk to the washroom.

For the toilet project, after 5 weeks it was finally finished! It was a big accomplishment for the Rustic students, the families, and the local community.

Sarah Boris, who traveled with the Intro to Community Service program, says she really enjoyed the service work and that everyone the students met was so nice.

“Service days were so amazing to see the locals and get to know how other cultures live their life and get to experience something totally new!” Boris said. “I already miss my new friends and miss the sweet families we met.”

Environmental Restoration & Farming

Some students in the Sun, Sand and International Service program took a trip to the local mangrove forest. There they did a beach cleanup and collected seeds for mangrove planting. The students learned about the importance of the mangrove forests, both for the environment and for Fijian culture. There were some fun and games mixed in there too.

Meanwhile, some students in the intro program worked on an organic pineapple farm. A Fijian neighbor named Suran has a farm that he runs all on his own near the Momi Base House. The students took a ten minute walk to get to the farm. There they learned how agriculture is a main source of income in rural areas of Fiji, but it doesn’t come easy. It’s hard work!

Students supported the family by weeding the pineapple fields, and then they got to eat delicious sweet pineapple almost every day at meal time!

Refurbishment of Schools

For 17 years, the Rustic Pathways Foundation has been providing support to local schools. This summer the tasks included tiling the floor outside of classrooms and finishing an entrance and beautification project in the garden at a primary school with 105 students and 4 teachers. They also completed a walkway and tiling inside the classrooms.

Support for Local Women

In the intro program, students ran a meal program for a local women’s shelter in order to provide nutrient-rich meals for people in need. Students tried their hand at preparing Fijian foods like roti and then delivered the food to the shelter.

They also had the opportunity to experience the Indo-Fijian culture while enjoying some homemade chai tea made by Shalini, the project manager of the meal program. Overall, the work provided meals to 50 women at Hart House who are widowed, single mothers, or have other challenges.

Meanwhile, another group did a women’s income-generating workshop, learning the traditional craft of Salusalu flower necklaces.

Enrichment Programs for Kids

This was one of the cross-cultural opportunities during the programs. Students prepare activities for local children. They helped with an after-school enrichment program in Nabila village, Uciwai Primary School and Bavu village. The students led games, activities, reading, arts and crafts, and sports with the local children. The focus was on English immersion and cultural exchange!

Just for Fun

When the students weren’t busy with service, they enjoyed other activities. Some students relaxed in the sun at Natadola Beach. In the evening they were presented with their sulus and were welcomed with a traditional Kava ceremony.

On the weekend, one optional add-on activity included a day out on the water, sailing on a catamaran. Students snorkeled near the Pinnacle Reef, swam to a crystal clear sandbar, and had lunch on Malolo Island.

In addition, one Saturday night there also was a pool party with a local band performing, called Get Up! Students also were treated to a performance of a traditional dance called Meke and learned some Fijian language!

Overall, it was a busy time of service and cultural lessons. For more details about these service programs in the beautiful nation of Fiji, please visit our program page.

Overall, it was a busy time of service and cultural lessons. For more details about these service programs in the beautiful nation of Fiji, please visit our program page.

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Content Writer

Mary is a Content Writer at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.