Alternative Livelihoods in Fiji

Assist with a variety of of community development initiatives aimed at supporting alternative livelihood strategies

Program Information

Participants get a chance to make a difference in traditional coastal villages while they assist rural communities to address alternative income generation initiatives. All the efforts aim to be sustainable in the long-term. You may also get involved in other community projects in Dawasamu. This is an opportunity to impact some of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals


Participants will be welcomed in the Dawasamu district where our base for this program is situated. Once you arrive at base camp you will experience true Fijian hospitality!

You will team up with other international participants to contribute to the development of alternative income generation opportunities for members of local communities. You may also get involved in needs assessments, monitoring and mapping, and recycling to name just a few.

Before initiating any projects research is conducted and community groups and leaders are consulted to determine the relevant issues that need to be addressed. Participants work on various different projects depending on when they join the program.

Highlights include:
- Taking part in a range of activities ranging from working with community members and local village groups, researching and exploring new initiatives and projects, supporting a range of projects relating to support alternative livelihoods, interacting with villagers, all while making lifelong friends from a range of cultural and geographical backgrounds.
- Participants will learn all about traditional Fijian villages, becoming immersed in the local way of life, which is not only vastly different to living in a mainstream city, but rather alluring, and many of our participants dream of staying in Dawasamu long after the project comes to completion!
- There are many stunning locations as a part of weekend (or post-project) side-trips, that can be arranged. These including scuba diving, dolphin watching, hiking, snorkeling and even taking part in Fijian language lessons wherever possible.


I just recently returned home from the education project in Fiji. I knew that this was going to be an adventure that I would never forget but what I didn't know was how it would change my life. Before I left for Fiji I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life, now I have a strong sense of direction. I firmly stand behind GVI and everything it stands for, thank you for this life changing opportunity. I WILL be involved with GVI for many years to come!
- Tyler McKay (USA)

Program Details

Program Type: Volunteering
Location: Australasia - Fiji - Dawasamu

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Project Life

A typical day on program will normally start quite early in the morning to prepare for the day ahead. You will get involved in a daily review of projects, help to prioritise what has to be done on the project site.

From Monday to Friday you will be participating in the program with weekends free to explore as you wish!

Accommodation during your stay includes basic dormitory style rooms, with a communal kitchen, work area and general living space. The team likes to eat together in the evenings, sharing stories about experiences from the day, as well as learning more about each other and the various countries the various participants have travelled from. Meals are cooked on a rotational basis by teams, which will be communicated as soon as you arrive on base for your introductory training.

Project Details

This program works to assist villagers to adapt their livelihoods in response to the changing pressures on traditional life, as a result of ongoing environmental and social change. GVI focuses on empowering communities by actively engaging important issues involved with the factors that inform their quality of life, such as access to fresh water, access to education, food security, and options for income generation.

In this way, participants collaborate with us to genuinely make a positive contribution to both the landscape and ecosystem in the region. Sufficient sources of income are few and far between in Dawasamu, so the more of these sustainable initiatives you can help create and build on, the more independent the community is able to execute their long term plans.

Participants will effectively help to:
- Research,
- Support,
- Create, and
- Maintain income generating initiatives for the local community.

A typical activity to promote alternative livelihoods is to make items to be sold. This can range from:
- Assisting in creating handicrafts made from recycled materials.
- Researching new project development possibilities, determining where there is a need and if the community can do anything to supply in this need.
- Identifying and supporting access to new markets, like in neighbouring tourist areas.
- Developing vegetable garden projects.
- Marketing the goods by assisting with graphic design or branding.

You will also assist in range of community initiatives, these may include light construction, women’s empowerment, education enrichment, and community workshops and presentations.

Dawasamu has a host of short, mid and long term objectives, which will be outlined below:
Firstly, it is important to note that all of GVI’s programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which SDG’s we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

When you arrive on base, an important part of your orientation will be around the history of and importance of the UN SDG’s. You will learn about the specific goals relating to the initiatives in Dawasamu, including No Poverty, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water & Sanitation, and Responsible Consumption & Production. Our goal is for you to learn as much about these as possible in order for you to continue to act as active global citizens once you head back home, helping to fulfill our long standing mission of building a global network of individuals who are united by a passion to make a difference.

In terms of specific objectives in Dawasamu, the following are important to consider:
- Improving waste management in the area by developing community-based waste management solutions;
- Introducing and promoting the principles of WASH in the Dawasamu District, also including first aid;
- Creating alternative livelihood projects which can help women generate income within the village; as well as
- Improving English literacy levels and implementing holistic educational techniques into the learning environment.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs


Participating with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Fiji!

Optional Side Trips
Fiji is a beautiful and exotic destination where you will find picturesque white sand beaches, world class dive sites, and Fiji’s famous culture of hospitality and warmth. As an island nation, many of your potential activities are water based! Starting locally, just a short boat ride away you can visit the famous pod of dolphins that reside all year round on Moon Reef or hike into forests and swim in hidden waterfalls or visit one of Fiji’s famous island resorts.

In the water, for those that are not dive qualified you could enrol in a scuba diving course and dive the various dive sites in the region, home to abundant marine life, colourful corals and steep drop-offs. Get lucky with your dive, and visibility can exceed a massive 40m.

Fiji’s capital city, Suva, is only a few hours from all our project sites, known for its relaxed atmosphere, energetic nightlife, large farmers market and atmospheric port. Here you can visit the Fiji Museum, where you can find ancient tribal artefacts, one of the best exhibitions on tribal art in the Pacific, or read up on Fiji’s cannibal past. The old historical capital of Fiji, Levuka, which makes for an interesting day trip, is accessible by ferry and small boat and located on the nearby Ovalau Island.

Further Travelling Opportunities
A little further afield, the possibilities just keep on coming. Explore the town of Nadi with its bustling market, nearby hot springs at Sabeto or get a feel for the local atmosphere at a rugby match. From Pacific Harbour, join a river safari into the heart of Fiji or dive with bull sharks in Bega Lagoon, one of the world’s most famous shark dives.

After your program you could try island hopping around the 20 volcanic islands of the Yasawa group. These remote islands are characterised by white beaches, crystal blue lagoon and dramatic rugged hills, some with summits 600 metres above sea level.

Staying on dry land, you might consider a trip to the Sigatoka National Park, where you’ll find a miniature desert of rolling sand dunes or a more relaxing option would be the Coral Coast and the Kula Eco Park, Fiji’s only wildlife park.

The Team

Claire Ogg

Program Manager Caqalai
Meet Claire, our Program Manager on our Caqalai Base in Fiji. Claire received her degree in agricultural and environmental sciences and is also an avid diver and marine conservationist.

She has lived and worked on various continents around the globe and has extensive experience in the diving industry.

While travelling Claire has come across earthquakes, cyclones, volcanoes and pirates!!! Talk about living on the edge! Working for GVI is an adventure in itself, luckily not the dangerous kind. She was first attracted by GVI because of our good reputation within the industry and she likes the fact that we employ, train and give back to the communities that we work in.

Zara Roche

Operations Manager
Meet Zara, our awesome Operations Manager here in Fiji. Zara started out as an eager education volunteer right here in Fiji back in 2014 and she was impressed by the stunning location in Fiji and GVI's volunteering ethos. She has been with us ever since and has worked her way up to Operations Manager, overseeing all the logistics on our base.

Zara is a water baby and she loves to get into the water for a dive/swim at any opportunity I can. As a GVI staff member in Fiji, she gets the opportunity to dive into the South Pacific paradise often. "When your job doesn’t feel like a job because you are getting the opportunity to do what you love is a blessing! GVI is a one big family based organisation and I appreciate working for a company who believes in working together with communities there is a grassroots non-hierarchy approach. This approach I believe is a fantastic way of successfully delivering volunteering projects."

Michele Comber

Program Manager
Meet Michele, our brilliant program manager in Fiji. She has a lot of travel experience in the US around Europe. She volunteered for one year in Mombasa Kenya on the childcare programme, became Project Manager for three years and worked in South Africa on an under 18's programme.

She loves GVI because ''this job gives me the opportunity to work with people who volunteer from all around the world and being able to work alongside individuals who had the same drive and passion as me, willingness to give up their time, share their skills and knowledge to assist the schools and the community groups we work with.

I have had the honour to work with some amazing partners in different countries who have welcomed me into their communities and let me be a part of their lives , giving me the opportunity to grow and learn. Their strength and their faith and their beliefs that all things can be achieved if you have hope will always stay with me.''

Dane Lee Marx

Country Director
Meet Dane, GVI's cheerful country director for Fiji. He has spent several years as the Conservation and Ecology Manager on Frégate Island, a small private island in the Seychelles. There he had been fortunate to have overseen and implemented projects ranging from monitoring and protection of rare birds, invertebrates and sea turtles to wide-scale habitat restoration as well as management of significant operations responsibilities.

After leaving that position he took a year off to do some travelling – six months of flyfishing, camping and exploring new Zealand, visiting some friends and family in Australia, and some exceptional diving and island hopping in Indonesia. He holds a BSc in Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences, an Hons. in Zoology, and a MSc in Conservation Biology.

For him, GVI  is an exciting organisation as it carries out an impressive range of high impact, grass-roots level projects in some of the most interesting locations across the globe. This and the combined focus on both community based development and a deep seated conservation aligned perfectly with his own interests and passions.

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

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