Tag Archives: volunteer abroad

Cap Ternay Completes the Bi-annual science report, Mahe, Seychelles

GVI Seychelles – November Achievements

Throughout the last six months the staff and volunteers at Cap Ternay have been collecting data on 12 coral reef sites across the North West coastline of Mahe.

GVI Seychelles works in partnership with three core projects to look at the health and diversity of coral reefs in the Seychelles waters. Over the last 6 months we have worked closely with the Seychelles National Parks Authority to assess the effectiveness of the marine parks, Seychelles Fishing Authority to research the density and diversity of commercial fish stocks and Marine Conservation Society Seychelles to understand feeding habits of Whale Sharks and collect information on other megafauna seen within the marine parks.

During the last six months the volunteers have been trained in identification of both fish and coral species and taught methodologies on how to accurately collect the data needed. The coral surveys completed have focused on understanding and identifying recruitment and growth rates of hard coral genera, while the volunteers trained in fish surveys have been looking at the abundance of reef fish and the abundance and bio-mass of commercially important fish species.

Cap Ternay’s Science Co-ordinator Lee Cassidy believes “it has been a hugely successful past six months with a large amount of important and interesting data collected, having such a long running and continuous data set means the information we have gathered is incredibly valuable”.

In 1998 a severe coral bleaching event occurred which effected many coral reefs around the world, including the inner granitic islands of the Seychelles. In 2004 GVI began monitoring the recovery of these coral reefs . The surveys we have completed are aimed towards assessing the health and recovery of the coral reefs and allow us to make comparisons with coral reefs around the globe.

To find out more, please see out current programs in Seychelles, our blog, or feel free to contact us for more information.

The Growing Influence of ‘La Casa del Sol’ on our Community Project Goals in El Cocal, Costa Rica

GVI Quepos – October Achievements

This past month we at GVI Quepos have thrown all of our energies into our new community center in El Cocal, La Casa del Sol. The main priority of the Quepos team has always been community development work in El Cocal because of serious issues there such as drug abuse, overworked and under motivated teachers, and three-hour school days, but we have recently revamped the way we work in the small island community. We have reorganized the way the project was previously running and have seen incredible improvement in all aspects of our work in only the past few weeks. We used the momentum of our opening party where we welcomed over 60 kids into La Casa del Sol and have spent every day since working toward the common goal of keeping the children off of the streets and out of harm’s way.

Since opening La Casa del Sol, we have instituted an art program and a new English curriculum for students as well as adults, to whom we give free classes. Our weeks in the center have been spent having science days where homemade volcanoes are constantly erupting, sports days with sack races and intense football games, and fun activities such as sandcastle building competitions and treasure hunts. We have homework help and story time,  and we are pleased to support the school of El Cocal even further by remaining open when teachers are unable to come in or school is cancelled for the day.By opening La Casa del Sol, we have been able to positively influence the island town in many ways. Our average daily attendance is a whopping 35 to 40 kids, which is a greater number than any of us ever imagined! GVI staff and volunteers are honored to be able to offer a safe community for children when they are not in school and would otherwise be on the streets and the beaches, where the majority of drug use occurs. Due to the low number of teachers in El Cocal, students have basic Math and Spanish classes every day, but do not receive daily instruction in other important subjects such as Science, Geography, Physical Education, and Art. La Casa del Sol, with the help of dedicated GVI volunteers, is able to provide further support with extra classes and activities in these areas that make school and learning that much more exciting.

The success of the new community center has afforded us many changes that have made every day better than the last for everyone involved. We have seen incredible progress in the general attitudes of the members of El Cocal community toward GVI since the opening, as they get to know us more. With the addition of free adult English classes and the growing positive presence of GVI in the community, we have become the center of attention and our daily activities are the main interest for children and adults alike. The children, following the adult example, have begun to respect GVI members more than ever before, and their attitudes toward learning and being involved have improved dramatically in the past few weeks. The opening of La Casa del Sol has also increased the amount of respect and trust the teachers in El Cocal have for GVI, because the team has been able to give more support and work more closely with the school than previously possible. Overall, this past month has reignited the community project in Quepos and has given us hope for a future that seems brighter and more successful than ever before.

 

To find out more, please see out current programs in Costa Rica, our blog, or feel free to contact us for more information.

Amigos de Sian Ka’an, Mexican Local Partners, New Protected Area Establishment

GVI Mexico – September Achievements

Since 2003 GVI Mexico has been working in partnership with Amigos de Sian Ka’an, a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) and the oldest in the state of Quintana Roo. Since 1986 Amigos de Sian Ka’an has been carrying on different programmes to preserve the natural resources of the state. Their aim is to conserve biodiversity by promoting and influencing the culture and environmental policies based on science. One of their first projects was to promote the establishment of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve as it is now. So far, together with other organizations, they have managed to preserve 1,000, 000 hectares by buying land in key areas in the Yucatan Peninsula and lobbying the creation of protected areas, which is also contributing to the Mesoamerican Biological corridor.

Recently, after many years of work, in September 2012 the National Protected Areas Commission (CONANP) established, by Mexican presidential decree, a new protected area covering almost 38,000 hectares (94,000 acres) of wetland, coastal, and marine ecosystems in Cozumel Island, Quintana Roo (fig.1&2). This accomplishment significantly benefits the conservation of numerous endemic species and subspecies, the well preserved local ecosystems, the Mesoamerican Reef, and the island’s population with the high ecotourism potential of Cozumel.

This fundamental step for Quintana Roo’s sustainable development was possible because of Cozumel society and fishing cooperatives commitment, the agreements among the municipal government, the state government (that formally protected 19,000 hectares, 47,000 acres of forests and wetlands in Cozumel) with CONANP, as well as the interest of the State Water Commission.

Many members of Amigos de Sian Ka’an participated in making this declaration possible. Amigos de Sian Ka’an participation in this project was possible because of the support from the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA), The Nature Conservancy, the Summit Foundation through the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI), and ASK own funds generated with the generosity of their benefactors.

To find out more about the work going on in Mexico, have a look at our current programs, our blog, or feel free to contact us for more information.

New Zealand Rotary Funded Water Project in Fiji

GVI Fiji – September Achievements

In early 2012, the Wanaka and Queensland New Zealand Rotary clubs made an incredibly generous donation to the Yasawa Trust Foundation, that has facilitated a significant increase in water holding capacity and collection efficiency across three Northern Yasawan Villages where access to fresh water is limited. Through both the donation of funding and man power by these two rotary clubs, the Yasawa Trust Foundation and GVI water security program has been able to add over 83,200 litres of new water holding capacity in new rainwater harvesting systems, carry out efficiency improvements on over 100,000 litres worth of existing collection capacity, and install 15 filter systems across three villages. The sheer impact of these infrastructure improvements became evident during a recent audit of the water security of Nabukeru, Tamasua, and Malakati villages during which time community members reported that an abundance of water was available during this dry season and a major reason for this abundance was due to the increased collection capacity installed and efficiency improvements carried out by the New Zealand Rotary project.

Nabukeru Village on Yasawa-i-Rawa island has a population of approximately 250 people and is one of the most Northern and remote villages in the Yasawas.

The Queensland Rotary Club funded and installed 4 new Rainwater Harvesting Systems, and completed repairs on another 3 systems. The total water capacity added to Nabukeru Village through Rotary funding is approximately 25,200 Litres in new filtered water systems and carried out efficiency improvements on approximately 5,000litres worth of existing catchment capacity.

New Systems Installed / Infrastructure Supplied

  • House # 33: 5,000 Litre Tank, Base, Filter system, guttering
  • Fura’s House:  5,000 Litre Tank, Base, Filter System, guttering
  • Methodist Church: 10,000 Litre Tank, Base, Filter System, guttering
  • Community Hall 2:, Base, Filter System, guttering (5,200 Litre Tank provided by village)

Systems Connected/Improved

  • Quma’s Church: repaired base, provided new guttering, lockable tap (2,000 litre)
  • Vuake’s House: repaired base, provided new guttering, lockable tap (2,000 litre)
  • Community Hall 1: repaired all guttering on northside of the hall (40,000 litre)
  • Ratu Namasi School 1: repaired guttering (5,200 litre)
  • Ratu Namasi School 2:  repaired downpipe and collection efficiency (5,000 litre)

 

Tamasua Village

Tamasua village is home to approximately 130 people and at times is dependent upon Nabukeru to pump water via a basic pipe system from Nabukeru’s bore hole. Though Tamasua has sufficient catchment for the population of the village the RWH infrastructure was in severe disrepair and many tanks had not been collecting water. The Wanaka and Queensland Rotary funding and man power helped to improve efficiency and  ensure better water quality across over 79,800 litres worth of existing catchment capacity.

Systems Connected/Improved

  • House #36 – cement base poured, new guttering (5,200l tank)
  • Sala House- guttering replaced, filter system installed, lid secured (5,200l tank)
  • Uraia House – Filter system installed (5,200l tank)
  • Siona House – guttering replaced, filter installed (10,000l tank)
  • Church – replaced / repitched guttering ( 40,000l tank)
  • Talatala House – all guttering replaced ( 2 x 2000l tanks)
  • Joe’s House – guttering replaced, cement base poured, filter system (5,000l tank)
  • John’s House – guttering replaced, cement base poured, filter system installed (5,200l tank)

 

Malakati Village

Malakati Village is located on the western coast of Nacula island in a large bay north of Nacula Village. With a population of around 200, Malakati relies on a mixture of spring water and rain water during the dry season.  After carrying out water security assessments in Malakati Village, the volunteer assessment team found that this village relied heavily on spring water of unreliable quality. The Wanaka and Queensland Rotary has now funded 58,000litres worth of new filtered water systems and the team carried out maintenance on an existing capacity of 20,000 litres.

New Systems Installed / Infrastructure Supplied

  • Northern House – 5,200 Litre tank, base, filter system, guttering
  • Kindergarten- 5,200 Litre tank (tank provided by Government), base, filter system, guttering
  • Nabukalou House – 5,200 Litre tank, base, filter system, guttering
  • Community Hall- 5,200 Litre tank, base, filter system, guttering
  • Church 1 – 10,000 Litre tank, base, filter system, guttering
  • Church 2 – 10,000 Litre tank, base, filter system, guttering
  • Church 3- 10,000 Litre tank, base, filter system, guttering

Systems Connected/Improved

  • Matuku House – base poured, guttering replaced (2,000 litre tank)
  • Community Hall- all guttering/downpipe replaced (8,000litre Concrete tank)
  • Matuku House #2 – all guttering/downpipe replaced (5,000 litre Concrete tank)
  • Church 4 – all guttering/downpipe replaced (10,000 litre Concrete tank)

The collaborative effort between all stakeholders has been a wonderful example of how fundraisers, donors, businesses, development organizations, and the spirit of volunteering can achieve significant impact through shared intention. Vinaka Vaka Levu Wanaka and Queensland Rotary for this important donation in support of the basic needs of the Yasawan People.

To find out more about the work going on in Fiji, have a look at our current projects, our blog, or feel free to contact us for more information.

GVI Laos 1st Leadership Training!

In September 2012, GVI in Luang Prabang, Laos delivered the Teaching English Internship add-on for the first time. Volunteer, Monica Walker, chose to add on this training to her 4 week placement on the project. Monica underwent the training over a period of 4 weeks. The Leadership Course comprises a series of 4 lectures, practical tasks and assessment tasks. The aim of the GVI Leadership Course is to provide the knowledge and understanding of the responsibilities of a team leader and the processes involved in leading a team. The support that participants receive throughout the Leadership Course include 1-1 mentoring from a designated staff member, weekly reviews and goal setting.

The key to success in most working environments is competent leadership and guidance. The GVI Leadership Course provides training and practical experience in the key principles of team leading.  Combining a theoretical approach with practical tasks directly related to the Laos Teaching Project, volunteers gain worthwhile knowledge and skills to take with them into their employment opportunities.

Upon successful completion of the Leadership Course, participants receive:

  • A Certificate of Accomplishment (for TEFL training)
  • A Certificate of Appreciation (for project work)
  • Team Leadership Certification
  • A copy of the Final Evaluation
  • A confidential professional reference

 

For further information on the Leadership add-on please see the website and click on the add-on option. To keep up-to-date with the developments in Laos, have a look at our blog, or feel free to contact us for more information.

English Program Progresses by Leaps and Bounds in Quepos, Costa Rica

GVI Quepos – September Achievements

One of GVI’s primary initiatives in Quepos is the English program.  Although Costa Rica has an incredibly high literacy rate, literacy is not enough to guarantee future success for these children.  In a country dominated and fueled by tourism, the ability to speak English is crucial to Costa Ricans’ job prospects.  With this in mind, GVI Quepos runs English programs in both of our communities – Boca Vieja and El Cocal.

Boca Vieja, although our newest community, has a slightly more established curriculum; largely due to the fact that the school schedule is more regular, which allows for a higher level of consistency in learning.  El Cocal, however, has historically been a bit more inconsistent, which is why the team in Quepos has focused much of its energy on this issue in the past several months.  We are happy to report that these efforts have paid off!

By implementing a program in which we take the five best students from each English class, and give them more concentrated teaching by native English speakers, the local teachers have seen a marked increase in those students’ learning.  Due to these efforts, two things have happened.  The local English teacher has asked our volunteers to come in to his classroom and lead the class with his support.  This is an incredible milestone because it means that when the local English teacher is unable to attend school due to other obligations, our volunteers will know where the students are in the curriculum, and be prepared to lead the class without the local teacher, thereby increasing the students’ class time – giving them that consistency needed for continuous learning.  Additionally, our 6th grade teacher has asked us to give her class English lessons outside of school hours to better prepare them for graduation.  These lessons have always been available to the students, but now they are coming on a regular basis, thanks to the buy in and active support of the local teacher.

All in all, some major steps were made this month towards greatly improving the childrens’ options upon graduating from school and entering the job market.  To stay updated on our adventures please take a look at our blog at Costa Rica blog, our current programs in Quepos, or feel free to contact us for more information.

A Fond Farewell to the Children and our Project Partners in Masiphumelele, Cape Town

GVI Cape Town – September Achievements

Thank you Masiphumelele and goodbye for now…

Last month we left our project sites in Masiphumelele.  We started in Masiphumelele in March 2011. We have run Educare, Healthcare and Construction projects in the community.  We have also provided teaching support for a Safe House in the community, and have seen pleasing progress with all of these projects.

In the Educare projects at Kiddie’s Corner and Rainbow Centre we have helped put structures in place and have focussed on helping the staff at these sites to provide an effective curriculum for the children. This has involved supporting them with the planning and delivery of lessons and developing assessment processes.

In our Health Care projects we have worked in a range of Educare centres and have worked with staff and children on topics such as hand washing, tooth brushing, healthy living and fire safety.  In our Construction projects we have  improved facilities in local Educare centres.

Our work at the Safe House has focussed on supporting children with their homework and developing their creative side through dance, music.  We’ve also worked on life skills such as cooking.

In our final week we were able to run an Emergency First Response course for community staff members from each of our Masiphumelele project sites.  We are pleased to say that they all passed.  They are now able to take these valuable skills away to use at their sites and also within the community.  A GVI staff member also participated in this training and found it a great experience to learn alongside the community staff.

We leave our project sites with many treasured memories and are proud to reflect on the achievements made by our Project Partners, volunteers and staff for the children of Masiphumelele.

If you’d like to find out more about how to become involved in some of the vital community development projects and initiatives the teams are undertaking here in Cape Town please visit our website, our blog, or feel free to contact us for more information.

Huay Pakoot Community Conservation Group in Thailand Receives GVI CT Funding!

Mario and his mother Sa Cha, in Huay Pakoot

GVI Chiang Mai – September Achievements

Since GVI’s elephant forest reintroduction started in the village of Huay Pakoot 2 years ago, volunteers, staff and elephant lovers everywhere have been working hard to raise money through charitable donations to bring more elephants back to the forest. Read on to find out how the team is currently  getting on …

GVI sponsors 5 elephants directly through volunteer fees but with a village of approximately 60 elephants in total, 5 elephants is only a small portion of the elephants still remaining in tourist camps around Chiang Mai and northern Thailand.

In May 2012, the community of Huay Pakoot officially registered as a community conservation group with the Mae Chaem district office.  Through this registration they have committed to working towards bringing elephants back to the forest and utilizing community based tourist projects based around the reintroduced elephants to further increase funding.  Tourist activities include home stays with traditional Karen families, learning about culture and food and hiking in nearby forests to observe these elephants in their natural surroundings.

The community is committed to bringing more elephants back to the forest but funding is required to provide work and salaries for elephant owners and mahouts.  Through online fundraising, volunteer donations and the 2011 marathon in Chiang Mai the GVI team has raised thousands of dollars towards this mission.  And we are proud to say that the number of rescued elephants is finally increasing!

In August 2012, GVI signed a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Huay Pakoot Community Conservation group, a document which symbolizes their partnership moving forward to develop sustainable tourism and bringing in more rescued elephants.

Beginning 15 September 2012, GVI has committed to an initial 6 months of funding towards the community conservation group, a total of US$2,000.  This funding should cover the costs of keeping Sa Cha and her calf Mario in the forest of Huay Pakoot as well as provide extra funds to be used for any necessary medical treatment or other costs the conservation group need to move things forward.

Every single day for the next six months, Sa Cha and her young calf Mario will be roaming freely in the forests surrounding the village of Huay Pakoot.

Sa Cha is 36 years old.  She started working in the fields at the age of 15 years old.  More recently she has been working in tourist camps in and around Chiang Mai.  Sa Cha became pregnant with Mario in an elephant camp where he was born.  Mario is 2 years 8 months and the mother and son are back in Huay Pakoot enjoying daily foraging in the forests and enjoying some time ‘just being elephants’ without having to work!

Huay Pakoot’s community conservation group is an excellent initiative, allowing the community to take responsibility for in increasing their elephant herds living a natural life in the forests and decreasing the number of elephants and mahouts forced to rely on area tourist camps.

Asian elephants are an endangered species (IUCN) and with less than 1000 wild elephants left in Thailand, the future of the captive elephant population is of critical importance. The conservation group puts the responsibility into the hands of the local people while GVI Thailand’s volunteers and staff continue to support these initiatives that span the realms of wildlife conservation, community development and community based tourism.

We currently have funds to sponsor these elephants for the first couple of years but still need more to bring in more elephants!

To contribute funds to this effort follow these links to Global Giving  ($US donations) or Just Giving (GBP donations), where you can make an immeditate difference to the work going on in Chiang Mai.

 

Please keep up-to-date with the work in Chiang Mai, by having a look at our current projects in Chiang Mai, our blog, or feek free to contact us for more information, we would love to hear from you!

 

 

The Beginnings of an Amphibian’s Project in Costa Rica!

Figure 1. Boulenger’s Snouted Treefrog (Scinax boulengeri), found in the Coconut Plantation (Marsh).

GVI Jalova – September Achievements

In January 2010, GVI began the Biological Assessment and Incidental Sightings Projects to collect data regarding the abundance and diversity of animal species belonging to the four classes of: Amphibia, Aves, Mammalia and Reptilia. A secondary aim of the Biological Assessment Project was to determine if the data collected could be used to develop new, more class/species specific projects.

Since their inception (using data compiled from both projects), a total of 26 species of Amphibians have been identified within the area of Tortuguero National Park surveyed by GVI. These include 1 Caecillian, and 25 Anurans (3 Toads, 22 Frogs): many of these have been seen only sporadically and only a handful are recorded regularly.

It became apparent that after many night walks over several weeks, between May and July 2012, that there is a very diverse amphibian population residing in the Jalova area; which have the potential to be seen more often if regular surveys occurred. This thought, along with a desire to further understand how each area of forest effects the species found therein, prompted the creation of the Amphibian Project.

This project has two aspects: the first involves surveying various sites at night, all of which differ in their ability to retain water during the wet season – water being crucial at some stage (or all) of the life cycles of all Amphibians. The second involves gathering data on the morphology of individuals and the area they are found. This information is collected during the night and day to gain information on both nocturnal and diurnal species.

In the past 3 months, GVI has seen an increase in the number of Amphibian species recorded on a weekly basis. This includes species which have never been recorded by GVI before, such as the Boulenger’s Snouted Treefrog (Scinax boulengeri), as well as species which are rare due to extremely small ranges, such as the Tawny Treefrog (Smilisca puma). With continuing surveys it will be interesting to see if such species will be sighted more often. This will also give us more insight into where and when each species is likely to be present. It is also hoped that with the data collected from this survey, GVI will be able to further understand the differences between the habitats types.

To keep up to date with developments in the field in Costa Rica, please have a look at our current programs in Costa Rica on our website, our blog, or feel free to contact us for more information.