The Yasawa islands of Fiji are a chain of volcanic islands that are located north west of the main island of Viti Levu. We stayed on the northern end of the chain which was a 4.5 hour boat trip or a very expensive sea plane ride. We did the 4.5 hours and met all sorts of people from around the world who were backpacking and enjoying a relax in Fiji.
Our island was very close to the island where the 1980 film, The Blue Lagoon was filmed. The sea is azure, the sand golden, palm trees sway in the gentle south pacific breezes but the local people are some of the poorest in Fiji.
We visited the local village and some people are living in tiny bures with a dirt floor. The power comes from a generator and last year it was broken for six months. Slowly, NGO’s are assisting villages to convert to solar power.
The village we visited was a bigger one (300) so it had a school but children from the other villages on the island have to board there during the week because there are not enough boats to transport the children to and from each day. There was a tiny medical centre and a doctor in residence but the smaller villages are not so fortunate.Most people in the Yasawa’s have to travel a full day by boat for medical treatment.
Village life is a cooperative in many ways. Monday is the day people work for the village. If a couple are getting married then the villagers build a Bure out of coconut palms and other plants. That is the gift from the village. When a couple want a cement house, they have to arrange for that to be built themselves. With the heat, sleeping in a Bure makes a lot more sense!
Running water is not available at every house and in most cases the
laundry is done by hand by using a washboard. The villages fish and grow vegetables for their own consumption and we saw a few pigs running around. They depend on tourists buying trinkets they make and if they are fortunate enough to be in the Chief’s clan, they might be employed by the resort. There are three clans on the island.
We visited the medical centre, the kindergarten and the primary school. The kinder is run by a volunteer and held in the village hall. They are hoping with donations from tourists and the Yasawa Foundation to get a dedicated building one day.
If you ever visit this part of the world do take some school supplies along with you and consider donating some of your time. The Yasawa Foundation site tells you the many ways you can help. We hope to return and stay for longer.