Thursday, 18 December 2014

Stay Safe & Choose Vinaka Fiji Volunteering

Travel blogger Cynthia Thomas gives her top tips for staying safe on volunteering programs – and we couldn’t agree with her more. So we’ve taken those tips and put together some information about Vinaka Fiji to help you consider your safety and comfort while volunteering.

Research the organisation

Vinaka Fiji is a charitable trust, registered as a not for profit organisation and run by a Board of Directors. Price Waterhouse Coopers provide their services free of charge to audit the organisation. The accounts and a full report on activities are published annually and available on request.Vinaka Fiji was established by very well known, trusted and credible tourism operator, Awesome Adventures Fiji. It is now also supported by Blue Lagoon Cruises (a tourism operation with over 60 years history in Fiji’s islands) and South Sea Cruises (one of the country’s largest and most experienced marine tourism operators).

Choose your host community carefully

Fiji is known worldwide as friendly and welcoming place to travel. The Fijian people always wear a smile and welcome visitors from all over the world to their communities, especially our volunteers who they greatly appreciate. The crime rate in Fiji is low, and is extremely low in Yasawa Islands where Vinaka Fiji is based. You will have plenty of opportunities to interact with Fijian locals while volunteering with Vinaka Fiji which will give you a unique insight to their culture, as well as insider tips on how to stay safe and the best things to see and do.

Arrange your accommodation

When volunteering with Vinaka Fiji, your accommodation is included, so you don’t need to organise your own. The hardest decision you will have to make is whether you’ll share a dorm, have a room to yourself, or shout yourself a deluxe, private, tented bure! No sleeping in a tent in the middle of nowhere for our volunteers! Our base is Barefoot Manta Resort, on Drawaqa Island. Transport to and from your volunteering work site is provided each day, as well as all your meals. You’ll have plenty of time after ‘work’ in the afternoons and all weekend to enjoy the resort facilities and explore the surrounding beautiful islands and coral reefs.

Volunteer with a friend or family member

Vinaka Fiji welcomes single volunteers, couples, entire generations of families, or groups of friends – it’s completely up to you. It is definitely wonderful to share the experience with someone, however single travellers are always welcome. You will always have the company and assistance of your program leader – be it in the education, sustainable communities or marine conservation program. And there are plenty of travellers staying at Barefoot Manta to make friends for the night.

Take precautionary health measures

Always check with your GP about recommended vaccinations or other preparations you should undertake before travelling to Fiji. Generally the water is safe to drink in Fiji, but if you prefer, bottled water is widely available for purchase. (and how good is Fiji water!) It is wise to bring some insect repellent, and it’s vital to wear sunscreen!

Pack thoughtfully

While Fiji is not a third world country, you will be staying and working in remote islands, so access to the major hospital may be some hours away in the case of a medical issue. Be prepared with basic medical amenities and any specific medications that you might need. As you’ll travel to work via boat, it’s wise to pack a light spray jacket in case of sea spray – or you’ll spend the day salty. Check here for Fijian cultural dress requirements and pack accordingly. Barefoot Manta sells bottled water and snack foods, as well as all meals being provided. Please advise us of any special dietary needs when you book your volunteering program.

Read Cynthia’s full article here: Six steps for staying safe on volunteering programs

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