History of the Peace Corps in Fiji
The Peace Corps has had a long and highly successful history of service in Fiji. Prior to suspending operations in early l998, Volunteers served the country for 30 years without interruption. More than 2,200 Peace Corps Volunteers have worked with local communities and organizations in various sectors, including education, business, environmental resource management, health, fisheries, and agriculture.
Notable past achievements by Peace Corps Volunteers include introducing environmental themes into secondary school curricula, small business projects with the Fiji Development Bank and Junior Achievement, and programming with both the Ministry of Youth and Ministry of Women. Volunteers significantly impacted the highly regarded Management Planning Advisors project by training local government staff in organizational and project planning. Their contribution of management skills and tools are still evident in many provincial and district offices throughout Fiji.
In 2002, the government of Fiji requested that the Peace Corps return. An assessment team came to Fiji and found that Peace Corps could once again make meaningful and substantive contributions to the development of Fiji. In late 2003, the program reopened. Volunteers now work in two project sectors: integrated environmental resource management and community health promotion.
History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Fiji
Peace Corps/Fiji Volunteers are currently working on two projects. A brief description of each follows.
Integrated Environmental Resource Management: The natural environment of Fiji is one of its most valuable and sacred assets. In collaboration with government departments, members of the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA), and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Peace Corps Volunteers provide educational and technical support on environmental preservation for inter-coastal management efforts and marine protected areas, and they help promote effective ecotourism practices. Volunteers work cooperatively with ministries, provincial and district offices, NGOs, and community members to build capacity and act as facilitators for their communities’ involvement in preserving and protecting Fiji’s natural environmental resources. Some Volunteers work with teachers and students to integrate environmental awareness activities into the classroom.
Community Health Promotion: In partnership with the Ministry of Health, the Centre for Health Promotion, NGOs, and local governments, Volunteers assist in health education, prevention, and promotion. With an emphasis on prevention, Volunteers work with local Ministry of Health staff to provide workshops and materials to rural areas. Volunteers work closely with schools and youth organizations to promote healthy life-skills training and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Volunteers also help build capacity and community outreach in youth health programs. A key aspect of their work is to improve the quality of health promotion outreach programs to increase health knowledge among youth. Volunteers work closely with youth workers, health staff, and community leaders to improve abilities in information technology (IT), healthy lifestyle practices, and means to enhance livelihoods.