Fiji is made up of some 330 islands in the tropical South Pacific with a mixture of Melanesian, Polynesian, Micronesian and European influences. The local people are warm, friendly and extremely generous, despite often having little in the form of material possessions and wealth. Fiji is a developing country with an enchanting mix of cultural traditions, strong religious faiths and stunning scenery. Lattitude Volunteers work with a number of community organisations and local schools, where they use skills gained from their own educational background to improve people’s lives.
Placements are located on the main island Viti Levu and the surrounding islands Ovalau, Motoriki and Vanua Levu. Click here to view a map.
Is It For Me?
Few placements offer such a culturally rich experience. Volunteers become immersed in the traditional Fijian way of life while contributing to the local community. It will suit people who are proactive, outgoing and willing to think outside the square, as resources can be in short supply. The work can be challenging, the accommodation is basic and the food is quite alternative! However the whole experience is ensured to be truly exhilarating and enormously rewarding using skills gained from your own educational background to improve people's lives.
This involve volunteers working in a variety of areas such as rural district schools, kindergartens, centres for children with various disabilities and also assisting a local community to build a school for their children. Volunteers either assist the local teacher in the classroom or work more closely with individual students who need extra help in class. There is also a building project in a more rural area, which enables volunteers to help build a centre using sustainable and traditional methods, including the use of such materials bamboo and paper bricks. No previous building experience is required.
These placements are generally in rural areas in schools, where volunteers provide support in various ways as required, including teaching classes, assisting with sports, music and arts or even rolling up the sleeves and helping to paint a classroom or library! Although the focus on most placements across Fiji will be utilising your knowledge to teach in schools and similar institutions, due to the nature of the Fijian culture volunteers will almost certainly end up working closely alongside the local community.
Whether playing sport with the local children or helping out with local building projects, volunteers will always end up involved with their community in many ways. Placements also allow volunteers to be proactive and use their skills and interests to start their own projects, whether that is an after school club or sports training, you will find plenty of willing participants. Volunteers in Fiji tend to work from 8am-4pm in a range of different teaching roles. You could be working in a secondary boarding school with around 185 students, helping pupils with their spoken and written English language skills.
All lessons are taught in English but most children will only speak Fijian at home, so you must be prepared to deal with varying levels of English language abilities. Despite these potential challenges, the other teachers in the school are very supportive and ex-volunteers have spoken highly of the close relationships they have formed within the rural community. There will never be a dull moment and the opportunities to get involved in all manner of activities are only limited to your own initiative!
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Accommodation And Food
Accommodation varies from living in a hostel on site, to staying in a home stay with a local Fijian family or living with other teachers within the school compound.
Food is supplied in conjunction with accommodation. In some of the more urban areas, Indian-style dishes amy be more common, with the main meal often being a curry with rice and roti. alo (or taro) and cassava are root vegetables and with rice and fruit are the staple diet in rural areas. Food is taken on a beautiful home-made reed mat. No need for utensils; the more noises you make the more you show your enjoyment!
Fijians eat almost anything at any time. Living with a host family in Fiji will give you a real insight into Fijian culture, volunteers will be kept busy far beyond their volunteering duties, whether that is helping their hosts cook and prepare food for meals to being involved in village celebrations.
Need To Know
- Pre-departure Briefing - all volunteers are invited to a group briefing prior to departure
- On Arrival - all volunteers have a three-day orientation in Fiji
- We find out about each volunteers strengths, skills and interests through an in-depth interview which helps us select the right people as well as identifying what they are hoping to achieve while away and helps us select the right people to be Lattitude volunteers
- A second interview with our In Country Programme Manager (often via Skype) helps match them to a placement perfect for them.
- Once you have been accepted by the in Country Programme Manager you will be looked after by a specialised Volunteer Coordinator in our NZ office who assists with all preparations, support with logistics such as flights and visas, and are there to answer any questions.
- Everyone attends a predeparture briefing to meet other volunteers, Lattitude staff, other professionals such as our travel agent, travel doctors and insurance company representatives as well as hearing from returned volunteers, learning in person about the expectations and exciting prospects that lie ahead.
- Volunteers are seen off at the airport, where they travel together to their destination countries
- All volunteers sign our Term and Conditions to ensure that Lattitude's expectations of each volunteer are agreed and clear from the outset.
- Volunteers attend a group orientation upon arrival in-country and, where needed, undertake training such as a local language or teaching skills course.
- We have paid staff based in each country. Our Country Managers oversee the program and work with a team of Local Representatives who provide support in the local areas and develop close relationships with placement hosts.
- Each volunteer is visited at their placement soon after arrival by an in-country staff member to check how things are and provide additional support if needed.
- We work with Embassies and High Commissions to ensure we can respond to any situation and provide 24/7 emergency support from the Lattitude office in New Zealand.
- We recognise that coming home can be difficult and provide one-to-one support, with onward referrals for further professional support if needed. Volunteers are invited to debriefing events and become part of our network of alumni.
- Our debriefing session will include discussions from industry professionals regarding the identification and articulation of the new skills the volunteer has invariably acquired during his/her placement, and how to use these new skills to get ahead.
- We are always happy to supply written and verbal references to our successful volunteers upon return home, to aid in applications to higher education or the workforce.
These costs are for Lattitude placements in Fiji in 2017 and a full explanation of costs can be found here:
|Lattitude fees (exact costs):|
|Lattitude Application Fee||$150|
|Lattitude Contribution Fee||$3,900|
|Lattitude In-country Orientation||$300|
|Lattitude Teaching Skills Course (if required)||$350|
|You will also need to budget for the following (approx costs):|
|Return Airfares (approx cost of group flight)||$800 - $1,100|
|Travel Insurance (6 months)||$345|
|Travel from orientation to placement||$0 - $200|
|Medical examination||$50 - $200|
|Travel Doctor Consultation & Immunisations||$0 - $500|
|Total cost (approximate)
||$5,895 - $6,845|
Languages: English, Fijian and Hindi
Time Zone: Same time as Auckland (UTC/GMT +13 hours)
Climate: Fiji has warm tropical conditions with increased rain and humidity during December to April. Temperatures range from 26°C to 31°C year round.
Currency: Fijian Dollar
“Everything is new and exciting, you learn to adapt and change your lifestyle, any materialistic item that was once important to you is now easy to live without, and your perception of the world completely changes. All that matters to you are the new friends you make and the family back at home. Once you can say ‘Bula Vinaka’ and drink kava at full tide you’re already a part of the family.”
Mariah Hommelhoff, Community Worker