Risk and Resilience in Fiji, Part 5

One of the informal settlement homes. This photo was taken approximately five minutes after moderate rainfall. As the settlement is located in a flood-prone region, heavy rains often result in home being entirely submerged beneath water levels. PhoTo by Yanik Rozon.

One of the informal settlement homes. This photo was taken approximately five minutes after moderate rainfall. As the settlement is located in a flood-prone region, heavy rains often result in home being entirely submerged beneath water levels. PhoTo by Yanik Rozon.

When I chose to live in Fiji for four months, I knew I would most likely enjoy it, but I never expected it to feel like a second home. I quickly felt at ease working and living among some of the most welcoming people I have ever met, who’s humor and naturally joyous ways are widely contagious. I have grown to love the organized chaos that is life in Suva, Fiji’s capital city, and have fallen in love with the countries tropical landscape and rich biodiversity. I have even gotten used to living on ‘Fiji time’, and rather enjoy the relatively slow pace of life.

My experience has taught me things I could have never anticipated, lessons which have contributed to who I am as a student, an international development worker, and above all, as a person.

My classes at Fiji National University have allowed me to visibly see the extent of environmental, social and cultural damage which a single developer can cause, and the need to ensure that a countries’ Environmental Impact Assessment system is properly enforced. My classes have also taught me the vulnerability of small nation-states to climate change impacts, some of which I witnessed first-hand throughout the duration of my trip. However, I have also seen how resilient a country with less than one million people can be, when a government chooses to prioritize education and climate change awareness.

Throughout my internship, I have acquired a better understanding of the complexities of development work. I have witnessed the power dynamics which can exist between the NGOs, international agencies, government agencies and local communities involved in the completion of a development project. I have experienced setbacks, and have learnt how best to deal with these situations. My internship placement has also exposed me to the unfavorable living conditions which are a common reality for millions of people around the world, and has allowed me to better understand the issues faced by those living in informal settlement communities.

Friends and I sitting after a short hike on Castaway Island, looking out at the eminent blue of the coral reefs below us. Photo by Yanik Rozon.

Friends and I sitting after a short hike on Castaway Island, looking out at the eminent blue of the coral reefs below us. Photo by Yanik Rozon.