My first project when I joined Erasito Consultants Limited (ECL) in August, 2012 was the WASH Infrastructure Upgrading works Project. Our client for this project was Live and Learn Environmental Education (LLEE). LLEE facilitated the Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) for several school infrastructure upgrading works around Fiji Islands which was funded by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The works involved the inspections of existing water, toilet, waste disposal facilities and common hygiene practices used in the respective schools identified by the Ministry of Education (MoE).
We travelled to nineteen schools of which twelve were situated in Viti Levu and the remaining seven in the island of Kadavu. The first school that we went to inspect was Mavua District School located in Sigatoka, Viti Levu. Mavua District School is located in the interior of the Sigatoka Valley. It took us two and half hour drive to the school from Sigatoka town. The drive was extremely bumpy. When we finally reached our destination, we were greeted with a warm welcome from the school’s administrators (teachers, committee members) and students.
We gave a brief introduction and informed everyone of our roles for this project. I was accompanied by my work colleague Cecilio who assisted in carrying out the works for this project. Upon completion of our inspections within the school boundary, we were also required to inspect the water source that catered for the schools.
We were advised that the water source was located 10km from the school and the only way to access the site is either on foot or horseback (at first I thought they were kidding). We began our journey with smiles on our faces, however, lost them an hour later whilst walking in the scorching heat (I almost fainted). Our guides then decided that we `City Sleeker’sˊ were better off on horseback than walking so we continued on horse, which made the terrain better to bear.
Through the jungle, up and down the valley, which felt like a never ending journey we finally reached the water source. Thought’s passed through our mind of the possible experiences from the inspections of the remaining schools. More school’s, greater adventure’s, boat rides, sleepless nights and it continued. At the end, we realised how fortunate we are of the comfort we leave in back in Suva and the facilities provided to us during our school days. We went through the kind of experience that cannot be explained but it is all worth it.
Submitted by Shelvin Nandan