Fiji's Yasawa Islands are home to 27 villages living below world standards of health and poverty. The Vinaka Fiji Trust was set up to give something back to the villagers and to say "thank you (vinaka), for welcoming us into your islands."
Remote, rugged and majestically beautiful, the Yasawa Islands were largely isolated until Awesome Adventures Fiji took their maiden voyage into the island group in 2002. The daily ferry service gave travellers from around the globe access to these islands, an area of Fiji that - at first glance - is 'paradise'.
The team at Awesome worked closely with local village chiefs and communities to ensure they would not displace the islanders' way of life, and to make sure the changes they brought to the Yasawas would be beneficial, not detrimental, to the locals. Very quickly, it became obvious to Awesome that in reality, the villagers live far from the 'paradise' that first meets the eye. In fact, the villagers struggle from day to day with immense shortages of clean drinking water, little to no health services or facilities, poor nutrition, a lack of educational support and supplies, inadequate power and no sustainable way of life for the future.
Awesome Adventures assisted, guided and gave
back to the villages where possible, however it was
soon concluded that a more focused and dedicated
approach was needed. So, in 2010, the Vinaka Fiji Trust
was established to formalise and further the work and
economic assistance already provided by Awesome
Adventures Fiji, and open opportunities for others to give back too. The name 'Vinaka Fiji' was chosen to
reflect the two-way nature of the relationship between those who operate and assist the Trust, and the people of
the Yasawas whose work it benefits. Each by their actions is
inherently saying "Thank you" ("Vinaka").
The Trust works directly with the Yasawa Island communities so that the villagers are involved in determining their needs, participate in the planning and implementation and share responsibility for completion of the projects embarked upon.
The Vinaka Fiji Trust aims to improve the provision of basic needs and amenities for villages throughout the Yasawa Islands. It seeks to do this both through direct aid and by acting as a facilitator, bringing those who can help together with the landowners and residents.
Through fundraising and volunteering programs, Vinaka Fiji aims to improve the provision of basic needs and amenities, often taken for granted in modern society, yet missing from village life in the Yasawas.
Everything we do is in close consultation with the Yasawa Ratus (chiefs), administrators and headmen in each village to establish what is needed to achieve an improvement in living conditions. We also have a strong relationship with the Ba Provincial Government to ensure they are informed of the work we do.All areas of development are designed to have low environmental impact, with environmental sustainability a key to the future. Our key areas of focus are:
"Visitors from around the world get so much delight in exploring the Yasawas. This is a way for travellers to say "thank you" and give something back to the locals. Make these islands a paradise for them too."
Vinaka Fiji Manager
Awesome Adventures Fiji took their maiden voyage into the paradise of the Yasawa Islands in 2002.
In reality, the villagers live far from the 'paradise' that first meets the eye.
“We don’t want to become relied upon. Our
commitment is to assist Yasawa communities to become fully sustainable
and self-supporting, as well as be educated in how to lift themselves
out of the poverty cycle.”
Vinaka Fiji involve the villagers in the planning and implementation of projects.