Volunteering

Community Development Expedition in Fiji

Join us in Fiji to empower communities through sustainable living, resource management and environmental technology.

GVI Hub: a home-from-home
Durations: 1 - 12 weeks
Fieldwork hours35 hrs of fieldwork per week
Participant ratio1:6 participant to staff ratio
GVI experiencesIncludes GVI Experiences

Program information

Travel to the Dawasamu district in Fiji where you’ll work alongside our partners on a diverse range of projects. Based In Silana village, our goal is to empower communities for sustainable living by managing resources and using environmental tech. Participants assist in infrastructure construction and contribute to studies informing local environmental decisions.

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Travel flexibility. Transfer for free up to 45 days before travel. Because life happens. Terms and conditions apply.
Overview
Dates & Prices
Itinerary
What's Included
Life On Base
Experiences
New
Free time
Cultural Immersion
Speak to alumni
MEET THE TEAM
Parent Info
Arrivals
Flights
Your Impact
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Support & Safety

Program overview

As a hands-on member of the GVI team, you’ll contribute to a range of diverse initiatives like freshwater management, education, environmental monitoring, waste management and health awareness. Immerse yourself in Dawasamu’s lush forests and mountain landscapes, working alongside members of the local community. Experience Fiji’s stunning scenery, including volcanic hills, dense jungle, waterfalls, beaches and coral reefs.

Our goals and priorities are set collaboratively with local communities, focusing on WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene), health, nutrition, education and environmental management. Our aim is to empower communities to address key issues like water access, education and food security.

Our program aims to support communities in adapting to changing environmental and social conditions. This is done by addressing critical issues such as access to water, education and food security. 

Volunteers assist local communities in assessing environmental impacts, enhancing education opportunities, and addressing basic infrastructure needs through improvements and new initiatives.

Highlights

Assist with building capacity

Learn how community-led programs are managed while working on building capacity within the local community through various outreach programs.

Live that island lifestyle

Fiji is famous for its palm-lined islands, warm hospitality and cultural heritage. Find adventure and purpose in this truly idyllic destination.

Activities

Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.

Ethics training

Learn about ethics in community development, covering GVI’s principles, child protection, health, safety and ethical guidelines.

Community workshops

Develop workshops on diverse topics: IT skills, income generation, sustainable agriculture, water and waste management, and environmental care.

Support community work

Depending on the needs of the community, additional project work might include working on education or health awareness initiatives.

Professional development

Get crucial career-building exposure working and communicating within a diverse team and specific local context.

Personal development

Develop self-awareness, leadership, resilience and confidence, with support and advice from experienced GVI staff members.

Pursue individual passions

Use your spare time during the week to self-reflect, raise awareness on community issues on social media, or fundraise for a local project.

Free time

On the weekend, visit other islands or relax in a nearby resort. Or travel to the city of Suva, home to many historical sites and cultural activities.

Skills

  • Community development
  • Community empowerment
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • International sustainable development
  • Social issues
  • Youth engagement

Partners

Some of the partners we work with on base.

Dawasamu District
Bureiwai District

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

Special summer savings!

Book in April to get up to 15% off selected programs!

Secure your spot before spaces fill up.
Payment plans. Flexible payment plans allow you to pay in instalments.

What happens next?

Once you apply, a personal Enrollment Manager will be assigned to walk you through the rest of the process.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

06:30

Start your day bright and early! If you’re an early riser, take a walk to the beach and enjoy the views.

07:00

Make yourself breakfast before the daily update, where we share important details about the work day ahead.

08:00

Start project work. This might include early childhood development, public health or waste management.

12:00

Lunch is enjoyed as a group. Meals are typically pre-packed sandwiches, noodles or rice dishes.

13:00

Continue afternoon project work, focusing on early childhood development, public health or waste management.

16:30

Depending on the day and schedule, assist with base duties, help prepare dinner or enjoy free time.

17:00

Enjoy a meal together. After dinner, reflect on the work you did that day and its impact on the environment.

18:00

Time to relax! Make use of the common areas to spend time with your new friends, play a game or do some studying.

What’s included?

What's included
General
Food
Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
Airport pick up (unless stated)
All project equipment
24-hour in-country support from local staff
24-hour emergency desk
GVI Experiences
Activities
Sustainable project work
Data collection and research
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed specialisation course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
What's excluded
Not included
Flights
International and domestic airport taxes
Medical and travel insurance
Visa costs
Police or background check
Personal items and toiletries
Additional drinks and gratuities

Life On Base

Boasting magnificent sunset views and swaying palm trees, our base is located on the edge of a traditional rural village, in the district of Dawasamu. We have Tova Peak on one side (the third highest mountain on Viti Levu) and the beach on the other. From your bed you can listen to the sounds of the crashing waves. A short boat ride away, you will find the famous Moon Reef with its resident pod of spinner dolphins.

Participating in a GVI program offers a unique opportunity to gain insight into Fiji’s culture of hospitality and warmth, and to experience what it’s like to be part of the community. On arrival, you’ll get to experience a “Sevusevu ceremony” – as a sign of respect you present yourself to the community to ask “permission” to stay. The ceremony is an age-old tradition that marks the formalisation of the community accepting and welcoming you, and celebrates your arrival.

Accommodation

Accommodation during your stay includes basic mixed-gender dormitory style rooms in a Fijian bure with wooden walls and a tin roof. There is a co...

Transportation

Transfers to and from the Nausori Airport in Suva take about 90 minutes and can be arranged with GVI in advance for the day before your program s...

Communication

You will have limited access to long-distance communications while on the program, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect...

Meals

Food on base is mostly vegetarian, consisting of locally-sourced seasonal produce which participants take turns in preparing for the group. Break...

Climate

With a warm tropical climate, Dawasamu temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year, at roughly...

GVI experiences included in your program, at no extra cost.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!

We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards –  the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development.

Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.

Learn to cook iTaukei food
Feast with friends
Make a traditional drink from kava root
A ritual cup
Learn indigenous plant medicine
The plants will heal
Hike to the top of Tova Peak
To the mountain
Fish with iTaukei women
Reading the tides
Weave a traditional mat
What weaves us together
Visit Vatu-i-Ra Conservation Park
Living wild
Boat to Leleuvia Island
Island myths

Free time

Joining a program not only allows you to collaborate with local communities, but also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding areas or travel further afield over weekends to see what other parts of the region have to offer.

Field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for you to organise at your own expense.

Weekend Trips

Coral coast

There are many day activities to choose from, such as ziplining and forest walks, as well as a variety of backpackers, resorts and beautiful beac...

Leleuvia Island Resort

Leleuvia is a coral island with beautiful white sands which can be reached by boat in 1.5 hours. This is a popular, although costly, destination ...

Dawasamu surrounds

Go for a hike into the nearby forests, swim in the hidden freshwater waterfalls, or visit some of the black volcanic sand beaches. If you feel like a more luxurious weekend, and...

Levuka

This is the old colonial capital of Fiji and a World Heritage Site – which makes for an interesting day trip. Levuka is located on the nearby Ovalau Island which is accessible b...

Historical excursions

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

Suva

The colourful capital city of Suva is known for its relaxed atmosphere, nightlife and

Diving

If you have diver’s training, you can enjoy scuba-diving at the various resorts and dive sites in the region. This region is home to abundant marine life, colourful corals and s...

Moon Reef dolphins

Take a short boat ride with a local fisherman to visit the famous pod of spinner dolphins that reside on Moon Reef all year round. This is a great way to meet the local communit...

Further Travels

Shark dive

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

...

Nature parks

Consider a trip to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park, where you’ll find a miniature desert of rolling sand dunes, or for a more relaxing option you can visit the Coral Coast...

Adventure

From Pacific Harbour, you can join a jetski safari, or go white-water

Sabeto hot springs

Located midway between Lautoka and Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu, you can indulge in a day of luxury and pampering. The hot springs are believed to have healing propertie...

Nadi

Explore the town of Nadi, which is about five hours away. Here you will find markets, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, beautiful beaches, resort...

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, 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 will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your 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 topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

The local community

Fijians are some of the friendliest people in the world, provided you respect their traditions and customs. The local community is typically warm and eager to welcome visitors. ...

Spirituality and religion

Christianity is the dominant religion practiced in Fiji, followed by Hinduism and Islam. Prior to the nineteenth century, indigenous Fjians practiced various traditional religio...

Local handcrafts

Fiji has a thriving souvenir industry. Local artists produce various intricately carved wooden items.

...

Cooking

The national dish of Fiji is Kokoda, which is a combination of fresh fish, pickled in lemon juice. Coconut milk is then added, along with tomatoes and chillies. The dish is seas...

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 ce...

Languages

Fiji has three official languages: English, Fijian and Fiji Hindi. Fijian is spoken as the first language by most indigenous Fijians while Indo-F...

Speak to alumni

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.

Get a first-hand perspective

Meet us

Meet the team

Get acquainted with the GVI Australasia, Fiji, Dawasamu family

Michele Comber

Program Manager

Meet Michele, our brilliant Program Manager in Fiji. She has travelled widely in the US,

Meli

Community Coordinator

This is Meli Rabele, our Community Coordinator from our base in the district of Dawasamu, Fiji. He is very proud of the work he is a part of here in Silana village, where he ass ...

Litia

Education Coordinator

Meet our Education Coordinator, Litia. She is based in Silana village in Dawasamu, Fiji. She is extremely passionate about teaching children and early childhood development and ...

Sereima

Community Health Officer

Meet Sereima our Community Health Officer in Dawasamu, Fiji. She is a local of Silana village where our Fiji hub is based. She loves new meeting people, playing volleyball and w ...

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, 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.

GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.

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 and high participant ratios.
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.

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. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals.

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.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (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.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

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

While on a GVI program, you will make an impact by assisting with the conservation of a staggering 1,500 marine species through underwater surveys and data collection, all of which are endemic to this region.

The communities we work with in Dawasamu often do not have access to sufficient resources to carry out regular data collection in their fishing grounds. Access to data provides greater insight into how to address coral reef and fish stock-related problems, which can be hampered by natural disasters and unsustainable fishing practices.

The data collected on our programs is provided to the local community and our local partners along with alternative livelihood methods and management strategies to help stakeholders make informed decisions with regards to their existing marine resources and long-term food security.

Research is shared with local communities to support decision making regarding the management of their marine assets.

The data is also shared with our in-country partner – the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network.

Project objectives

 

GVI Dawasamu long-term objectives:

1. Improve waste management in Dawasamu by developing community-based waste management solutions such as a successful recycling initiative.

2.Assist communities with the acquisition and set-up of rainwater harvesting tanks and educating them on how to safely use and maintain the system.

3. Introduce and promote the principles of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and preventative health measures in the Dawasamu District.

4. Develop and deliver sessions for young children that support the key developmental areas of cognitive, emotional, social and physical skills.

5. Waste Management: Conduct regular cleanups of the sea and beaches on and around the Dawasamu district.

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.

 

We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.

Our 10 ethical commitments

01

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.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

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

03

Impact Reporting

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

04

Working Against Dependency

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

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

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

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

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

07

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.

08

Local Ownership

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

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

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

10

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.

Program ethics

No entertainment-based activities

We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos

No orphaned animal sanctuaries

We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases

Guidelines for touching or movement restriction

When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Animal welfare guidelines

We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.

Local community empowerment

We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.

Learn more
No veterinary programs

We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.

Learn more
No orphanage programs

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

Learn more
Child and vulnerable adult protection policy

Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.

Learn more
No medical volunteering

We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.

Learn more
No disability support programs

We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.

Learn more
Aligned to local objectives

Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.

Local employees remain employed

Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.

Local employees remain focused

Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.

For all GVI participants

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.

For all participants at Dawasamu

Education

During your first days on the project, you will participate in several training sessions that emphasise the key teaching skills useful for our education program, including learning through play and lesson planning. You’ll also gain soft skills in communication, collaboration and organisation, and complete an overview of completed project work, items in process, as well as future plans. Lastly, you will learn how our work contributes and longer term sustainable goals, and how they link to the SDGs.

Objectives and Impact

Dawasamu on Education and Community project.

Village Presentation

All about the village of Silana, traditions and cultural information.

Dawasamu Welcome Presentation

Overview of GVI and Project work.

Dawasamu Cultural Presentation

Overview of Fiji and its traditions and culture.

Certificates & qualifications

GVI Online Community Development course (optional)

In this course, you’ll explore the most common pitfalls of community development initiatives so that you can avoid them. You’ll also learn how to carry out community development work effectively and ethically and how local context impacts program development. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.

This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.

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.

Safety

View support and safety protocols

Support

View risk mitigation

Health and safety case studies

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 ju...

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 heal...

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 ...

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 a...

Included in your program, at no extra cost.

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to cook iTaukei food
Make a traditional drink from kava root