2020 in a Nutshell: An Impact Blog
It is fair to say that this year hasn’t really panned out as any of us predicted. We have all been presented with new challenges, but despite these, an incredible resilience has shone through. And at Think Pacific, we are so grateful that we have been able to adapt and still have the support of such a fantastic community. Despite the chaos and unpredictability, together we have managed to achieve some fantastic things this year – we are extremely proud of what our community has accomplished, so a massive vinaka vakalevu to everyone who has been involved!
This blog highlights some of our proudest achievements this year….
2020 saw the launch of our in-country, community and youth development projects. Four volunteer teams were privileged to live and work within their respective communities, where they participated in community, youth-group workshops supporting health and sports development initiatives as per our partnerships with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Youth and Sports.
In the early months of 2020 and prior to Covid-19 restrictions preventing travel in and out of Fiji, one of our two-month teams completed the build of a Community Health Workers Clinic. Unfortunately, the restrictions halted progress on the build by our second two-month team. Yet, with some patience and logistical planning our local building manager was able to return to the village of Namoli, Nadroga & Navosa, to complete the build with the community! Two clinics done.
It is here that we must thank the communities of Naqelacibi, Nubuyanitu, Naveisividra and Namoli for welcoming our teams with open arms and extraordinary hospitality.
Covid was really testing us to build these health clinics and yet despite international travel restrictions, and from a public health perspective, Fiji had responded incredibly to the global pandemic. So once certain restrictions were lifted in-country, we were able to complete another build with our local staff as they headed to the village of Narikoso, Ra. This was made possible through the project costs of our virtual interns and for that we, and the community of Narikoso, are incredibly grateful. Three builds complete.
Why Health Workers Clinics?
Commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, these community health clinics provide Community Health Workers of rural communities a safe, professional place to practice. These health-dedicated secure spaces encourage community members to seek medical attention, moreover it allows the Health Workers to receive a greater amount of medical supplies from the Ministry of Health, ultimately improving the overall health, wellbeing & safety of the community.
A New Virtual Internship
Where to begin! After 10 amazing years of volunteer projects, this year, in the face of Covid-19 we were prompted to try something completely new to deliver cultural exchange and social impact – our virtual internship.
In March, we had to pull all our teams out of Fiji and re-evaluate how Think Pacific was going to continue to contribute to Fiji’s development despite travel restrictions – and what a result!
We are so proud to have extended our programs to include a virtual internship, and for the support of our enthusiastic and hardworking interns who come together to support Fijian organisations during these challenging times.
What impact have our virtual interns made this year?
Roughly 40,000 hours of work contributed to Fijian organisations through 325 project proposals submitted to partners to cope with their challenges in this Covid environment. We have another 291 interns working with us currently to deliver more insightful proposals for their Fijian organisations.
We are immensely proud to support over 70 organisations through our virtual internship; diversifying our impact across a range of career fields from environment & conservation to mental health, including women’s empowerment, business development and more! We look forward to how these new found relationships might blossom in 2021.
Partnership, as one of our core beliefs, is a strong driver in everything we do. This year we were immensely proud and excited to form 3 new formal partnerships with signed Memorandums of Understanding.
University of the South Pacific – Through this partnership we hope to increase access to opportunity for students at USP. We intend to onboard students as interns with the Think Pacific Foundation, have them enroll on our virtual internship program as well as experience and contribute towards our one month projects allowing students to further develop their own employability skills as well as contribute to the development of local communities. There are also many other areas for collaboration such as funding opportunities, content development on the virtual internship and our much anticipated summer school programs. Watch this space.
Ministry of Economy; Climate Change & International Cooperation Division – The CCICD is the responsible national agency for addressing climate change policy issues in Fiji. Through this partnership we hope to support the CCICD in the development of content and resources in the way of marketing materials, strategy proposals and the drafting of reports. The involvement of CCICD within our virtual internship program will be to provide information and resources to further improve the quality of our students’ learning experience ultimately aiding them to complete high quality, relevant and sustainable projects. We are immensely proud to be now working with the CCICD.
Leadership Fiji – Leadership Fiji strives to develop and enhance the quality of leaders within Fiji. Through this partnership the Think Pacific Foundation will be able to arrange leadership training courses for members of the Think Pacific community such as interns, local university students, volunteers and Think Pacific staff – a hugely exciting prospect.
Fiji is no stranger to a cyclone and earlier this year on the 6th of April, Tropical Cyclone Harold, a category 5 storm, caused widespread damage across the Pacific. Cyclone Harold tore across Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji with wind speeds of up to 270 km/h causing devastation across the region.
In Fiji the storm caused serious flooding, ruined crops and destroyed houses leaving many communities devastated. However, our incredible community responded to this with kindness, donating what they could, organising fundraising events and even starting a social media campaign #5kforFiji. Our community should be incredibly proud of their efforts in raising an amazing $28,625 FJD to support the emergency response, recovery and to increase cyclone precautions for the future. On top of this the Think Pacific Foundation was able to donate a further $8000 FJD.
Cyclone Yasa – Christmas Appeal
Unfortunately, amidst the chaos of the global pandemic Fiji has been hit with a second cyclone this year. Cyclone Yasa struck the island of Vanua Levu on the 17th December causing a trail of destruction, leaving communities stranded in disrepair and resulted in multiple deaths. Relief efforts continue and we are running a campaign to raise funds for the Fiji National Disaster and Management Office. Please follow this link to support – https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/CycloneYasaFiji
No one can deny that this has been a turbulent year, one which has tested all of us in new ways. We were immensely disappointed to not have volunteers joining us and our communities in Fiji this year, however we are optimistic about travel returning along with our volunteer teams and we can continue to work with, learn from and support our Fijian families and friends. That said, we are incredibly proud of what has been achieved this year. So, to reiterate the sentiment at the start of this piece – vinaka vakalevu to everyone who has been involved with Think Pacific this year. Your support has made it possible for us to continue contributing to sustainable development across Fiji and we can’t wait to see what impact we can have next year!
The TP Team