Fiji is known as a tourist’s dream, with its pristine beaches, clear water and friendly locals. Besides its endless coconut trees, abundance of marine wildlife and countless natural wonders, visitors often reflect that Fiji’s people are what make the country so special.
Classified as a developing nation, it’s often a surprise for tourists to get a glimpse of the local living conditions. Poverty is a daily challenge for many throughout the country, with countless families living in poor housing with limited access to good education and adequate healthcare. Still, Fiji’s people remain some of the most welcoming, genuine and happy people in the world.
To try and help some of these local communities, particularly in remote villages, this community development program has been established in Sote Village, about two hours from Fiji’s capital, Suva. Volunteers are needed to help the Sote Village community in a variety of ways.
If you’re a passionate, flexible and adaptable individual, who is not afraid to steer well clear of the five star hotels and really get rustic (and back to basics), this project is for you. If you are truly interested in getting to know the locals and helping them in any way you can, this project will be highly rewarding. You may partake in a number of different activities, some of which may be:
- Helping build/renovate buildings, facilities and fences at the local school
- Facilitating creative and educational activities with school children
- Repairing and upgrading the Community Hall
- Creating concrete footpaths within the village
- Supplying trash bins for the community and educating the people on keeping their areas clean
- Creating shelters and walkways
- Building fences in and around the school
- Assist in building school and sports equipment
- Refurbish existing buildings, such as community centres and kitchens
- Build children’s playgrounds
- Install water tanks
- Beautify local village buildings with school children and art projects
Note: Activities that participants will undertake on any given program will vary widely, depending on a range of local factors, including but limited to available donations / funding, time of year, weather conditions, available support staff and community leader involvement.
No matter what activities you get involved in, everything you do is to benefit the community as a whole. The great thing about this project is that all you need to participate is a positive attitude, personal drive, a commitment to culture and the local community.
- Project Activities: Building and renovation projects for the Sote Village community, creative activities with children, general community outreach/education and other activities based on needs at the time
- Project Availability: Fixed program dates each year. Contact CISaustralia for upcoming group program dates.
- Project Duration: 2 weeks
- Working Hours: Varying depending on project focus. Approximately 7 hours a day for 5 days a week. The schedule varies – welcome to Fiji! You will need to be flexible. The program includes one or two lectures at the University of the South Pacific. Lecture topics vary each year but broad academic areas include community health, aid, local culture, understanding Fiji – its people, history and culture. There are also a small number of local culture excursions in Suva. Daily community project work will generally run from 8:30am – 11:30am, then a break for lunch and continuing from 12:30pm – 5pm.
- Location: Students will be primarily based in Sote Village, in the interior of Fiji – two hours’ drive from Suva. Students will also get to experience Suva, Nasori and Nadi for limited periods of time.
- Excursions: Lectures and excursions are included in this program. You will visit Suva, the capital of Fiji, and go to a lecture at the University of the South Pacific, or you could visit the Fiji Museum with its comprehensive collection of Fijian artefacts or other local cultural attractions.
- Support: 24-hour on-site support from Site Coordinator
- Police check is required
- Minimum Age: 18+
- Language: English
Please note that this project has a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 volunteers. Places on the project are given on a first come, first served basis.
On arrival into Suva, you will be met by CISaustralia and taken for some supplies in Nasouri and then transferred directly to Sote Village. While in the village your breakfast, lunch and dinner are supplied. Accommodation is basic – sleep on blow up mattresses in a designated large village house. See accommodation tab for more details.
Note: Students need to either fly into Suva (usually via Nadi) and / or fly into Nadi and transfer by bus (4 hours) to Suva. Our staff will arrange to meet you in Suva – either at the airport or bus station.
This morning you have the opportunity to attend a local church service (great local culture and singing), go for a walk in the jungle and have a swim in the afternoon.
Day 3 – Day 6
Project work throughout the week.
Local transport to Suva (the capital of Fiji) and spend the day at the University of the South Pacific. Attend one or two lectures on local culture related to any range of topics, e.g. politics, local issues / challenges, community development, religion, international relations, climate change, infrastructure, business, communication, gender issues, etc. Lectures will be driven by local staff availability.
Accommodation in Suva will be supplied in a local 3-star hotel in twin share rooms – or equivalent. Lunch and dinner will be at your own expense.
A cultural excursion will take you to the fresh fruit and vegetable markets as well as the fish markets in Suva. Evening is free time.
Visit to the Fiji Museum in the morning, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Fijian artefacts in existence. Lunch will be at your own expense. In the afternoon, the group travels back to Sote Village. Dinner will be supplied in the village.
Day 10 – Day 15
Continue project work in Sote Village.
Breakfast supplied prior to travel to Nadi. One night in Nadi included. Accommodation will be supplied in a local 3-star hotel in twin share rooms – or equivalent. You will be free to explore Nadi in the afternoon and evening. Lunch and dinner will be at your own expense.
Breakfast included. Program now officially ends.
The Volunteer's Role
While the tourism industry brings a lot of money into Fiji’s major tourist spots and resorts, the more rural communities receive little of these funds and the employment benefits, and as a result they have been somewhat left behind economically.
Fiji’s population is spread over a number of islands, making it difficult to deliver things we tend to take for granted, like education and healthcare – among other things. A significant amount of the population lives in poverty, with some villages not even having access to fresh water or proper sanitation systems, while others do not have the money to maintain the upkeep of buildings that are deteriorating or create concrete paths leading to houses.
Overseas volunteers can help these communities by offering their skills (physical, knowledge, etc.) to the numerous projects that help to improve the community day-by-day. Whether it’s building a fence, painting a wall or doing some creative projects with school children, everything helps.
As a volunteer, there are various activities you could take part in at the project in Sote Village. There are a number of buildings that need to either be upgraded or renovated, including the Community Hall, the Kindergarten and the community toilets. Beyond maintenance work, volunteers may be asked to place trash bins around the village and help educate the local people on the importance of keeping their village clean of rubbish.
CISaustralia is looking for passionate, enthusiastic and hard-working individuals who are ready to put their time and effort into helping out in remote Fijian villages. No formal qualifications are needed, but open-mindedness, patience and compassion are a must when working with people from different cultures who may have different views from yours. If this is you, we would love to have you on the program!
Note: Activities that students will undertake on any given program will vary widely, depending on a range of local factors, including but not limited to available donations / funding, time of year, weather conditions, available support staff and community leader involvement.
All projects require the involvement, support and agreement of the local village leaders and will most often involve the local community, the school, the mothers club and any other interested locals.
Sample activities and projects:
- Multipurpose concrete court for volleyball and netball
- Fencing around the school
- Expand the school playground; extend to the river
- Supply 10 computers
- Replace walls of tin at the Kindergarten with wooden walls
- Extend lunch room
- Refurbish the undercover kitchen area into extended eating area
- Supply a swing set for the Kindergarten children
- Level the area beside the Kindergarten – for safety and play
- Install a 3,000-litre water tank near the school cooking area
- Community Hall upgraded and painted
- Community toilets moved and/or upgraded and painted
- Concrete footpath to each house in the village
- Incinerator for the Community Hall
- Trash bins for community areas
- Supply / raise money for rugby jerseys – the village would benefit from some organised sport and would involve the youth who are currently in the village
An archipelago of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific, Fiji is known for its never-ending clean, sandy white beaches, crystal clear waters and beautiful, natural sights. Tourists visit in droves to escape to this quintessential paradise. With the majority of the population living on the coast of the major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the rest of the country is uncrowded and waiting to be explored.
The project is based in Sote Village, a small community that is about two hours away from Fiji’s capital city, Suva. Outside of New Zealand, Suva is the largest South Pacific city and hosts beautiful British colonial buildings, gorgeous parks and markets full of the freshest fruit you can find.
Located within the remote interior of Fiji, Sote Village will immerse you within Fijian culture as known by the locals, which is not something most visitors to the country will get to experience. Sote has a non-monetary economy, with the locals relying on natural resources, hunting and gathering to provide for their basic needs. To visit this village and its genuine, welcoming people is to visit true Fiji.
Accommodation in Sote Village is very basic, but the village is very safe. Students will stay in a large private house. Sleeping will be communal with men and women sleeping in a large room. Students will sleep on blow up mattresses. Showers are cold water only.
While on excursions, accommodation will generally be in a local, 3-star hotel or similar, in twin share rooms.
Program Fee & Dates
|2 week Volunteer Program - Year Round
|Please contact CISaustralia for program dates. At least A$100 of each volunteer’s program fees will be made as a donation that goes directly towards the project and the local community.|
Program fees include the following:
- CISaustralia support before, during and after the program
- Academic advising
- Financial advice
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Pre-departure guide and session
- On-site orientation and project induction
- Airport pick-up and drop-off (on specified program dates within designated times)
- Accommodation – Shared village home while on the project site. While on excursions, students will stay in local 3-star hotels or similar.
- Meals – 3 meals per day while in the village. Meals will not be provided on weekends or on excursions. There is the opportunity to buy basic foods at the village, but there are no facilities available to cook your own meals.
- Excursions – A small number of lectures and excursions are included in this program. They change each year and on each program.
- 24/7 on-site support – Site Coordinator
- CISaustralia Certificate of Completion
What is not included:
- Health insurance
- Visa fees (if required)
- Meals during the weekends and on excursions
- Police check*
- Any personal spending money
*A police check is required as you will be working in a small community and with local children.
CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partners.
Dates are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork.