Fiji Public Health Outreach Review

We had a great team that worked very well together and supported each other. The experiences we had were amazing. It felt like a very worthwhile project where we were making a difference. We learnt that Fijians usually only seek medical assistance when something is going wrong. So the preventative checks that we were doing on blood pressure and blood sugar are usually neglected. The education side was also basic for us as Australians but was enlightening for the Fijians. We came across Fijians that had made a significant change in their lifestyle since the last team visited and can only assume that some significant changes would be made after our team’s visit. We could see how lives could be saved as a result of this program.

We were fortunate to have a diverse set of experiences including visiting villages, visiting a primary school, visiting a high school and assessing the health of staff in a resort. I lead a couple of dances at the primary school which was a real highlight. Over our 2 weeks we circumnavigated the main island of Fiji, stayed in a village, visited a waterfall, were given a tour of a deep cave, participated in Kava ceremonies, watched fire walking and stayed in a resort.

The Fijian people were incredibly friendly, had a good sense of humour and were extremely thankful for our visit.

Comments on local team, food and accommodation
The local team of Masi, Mary and Lessie were amazing. They provided a necessary link between the volunteers and the Fijians as far as interpreters and our adherence to local customs. All were incredibly friendly and personable. They opened their home to us and drove us around in their cars. The food was excellent and catered to the different dietary requirements that existed in the team. The accommodation was all very good. Obviously in the village, the accommodation was a little more primitive (all of the team sleeping in one room and cold showers) but that was real and to be expected.

Carrun’s concern for the Fijian people was obvious and she was particularly good at the relationships between the team and the various village or corporate leaders. She also cared for the team and kept us informed of upcoming requirements.

Any improvements to help us be better?
1. From memory, the website seems to indicate a shorter work day than we actually experienced while on the team. We worked from 8:30ish to 4ish each day. We had read a review before leaving that had prepared us (but some of the other volunteers were not aware), but maybe the information on the website needs checking in this regard.
2. Before leaving I wasn’t sure if there was going to be anything but young people on our team. We had a lovely mixture of young, middle aged and retired however, I didn’t have this impression from the photos on your website. More encouragement of older volunteers and accompanying photos I think would be helpful as the experience of the older members of the team was invaluable.
3. We were made aware that there was a lot of data entry to be done for this project (and previous projects). We had people on the team expressing their willingness to contribute in this way but we only had the opportunity to make 3 or 4 entries in the end out of the hundreds (maybe even thousands) that needed to be done. An extra laptop or advice to bring a laptop for interested people may have facilitated this data entry.

-Catherine & Michael


View the public health program here


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