To many people, Fiji is seen as an idyllic location, a place where holiday makers can experience the beauty and relaxation of island life. Picture yourself there….with your favourite cocktail in hand, lying by the pool in the warm Pacific sun.It feels like paradise doesn’t it?
But the reality for local islanders is a very different story.
Although Fiji is considered to be one of the more progressive of the Pacific island economies, it is still a developing country.
Like most developing nations, these beautiful people are experiencing health issues that could be easily prevented. But unlike some of these countries, the Fijians have an oversupply of food – in a form that is making them very sick.
According to a study in 2013, almost 1 in 3 Fijian’s is now diabetic and within the next 5 years this is projected to increase to 50%. Obesity is a serious issue for island communities due to a lack of public health education in the face of cheap imported high carbohydrate and fatty foods. There is also a huge increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as a result of poor diet, in particular diabetes and heart disease.
Sadly, Fijians have a vastly reduced life expectancy compared to Australians.Children are losing their grandparents too young; and adults are developing diabetes at younger and younger ages.
A recent survey done on staff at a leading Fijian resort found 88% of them to be either overweight or obese, and several staff were found to have blood pressures over 180 (considered to be an emergency/high risk of stroke here in Australia). Locals very rarely see a doctor because the public medical system is under intense strain and they have to often wait over 6 hours just to see a GP (which results in them not going to the GP at all).
You may be wondering how a Naturopath can help out in Fiji?
Well, herein lies the answer!
I am heading over to Fiji for two weeks this August to volunteer with Involvement Volunteers International (IVI), to help out with their Nutrition and Public Health Program.
Together we will empower Fijians to make informed decisions regarding their health.
With your help, we can make a difference in people’s lives through basic healthcare, regular health checks and most importantly - education.
The aim of this project is health promotion and free assessments in corporate businesses, schools & community centres to increase the knowledge about nutrition and the effect of physical activity in the prevention of obesity and development of NCD’s.
How much do I need to raise?
I am asking for $2600 to cover airfares, insurance and travel VISA, as well as the cost of the program. The program provides blood sugar test strips, basic wound care, running costs like travel, accommodation and meals for volunteers, plus support for the local homestay families (so that they can continue to accommodate us).
If I end up exceeding this total (fingers crossed!), then the additional money will be put towards providing medical equipment such as wound care supplies, or it will be spent on necessary items for the locals.
In the past, we’ve funded computers for kids at remote schools, ambulance trips for high needs emergency patients, and this time, we are looking at whether we can fund a fridge for the villagers on one of the remote islands to keep their food fresh (so that they can buy fruit and veggies at the market on the mainland and take it by boat back to their home – the soil is too sandy and the winds too strong and salty for them to grow their own veg!).
If you are in a position to donate, then any amount, big or small will be much appreciated.
If you think any of your friends, family or colleagues might be keen to help out with a donation too, please share amongst your networks!
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Please note, IVI is a registered charity, so donations are tax deductible.
Reference: Involvement Volunteers International www.volunteering.org.au