The day our rain catchment tanks showed up on the island was a glorious one! The barge, carrying our five 5,300 litter tanks, came without any notification. After waiting for about five months for the barge, visiting the District Officer multiple times, seeking quotations for private barge companies, and calling many different captains, the tanks finally arrived on the island of Waya!! The sight of the tanks seemed to lift a weight off my shoulders as our work was nearing an end. I knew the finale of this never-ending project was nearing.

The next day, Maravu, my counterpart, and I woke up early to put the fittings on the tanks and fix the PCV down pipes, a task we thought would be simple. However, upon standing the tanks upright, we quickly realized that our measurements had been incorrect and two of the roofs were in fact higher than the top of the tanks. Then getting a little further into our job, we learned the taps and fittings we had purchased were the wrong size. The solution was cutting a hole in the tank about 8 inches from the top for water to enter and a visit to the hardware, which meant a trip to the mainland. After all the challenges faced up to this point, I was hardly surprised that things weren’t going smoothly. Due to this USAID project, I have learned very well how to take these obstacles in stride.

Once the correct parts had been attained and installed and the PVC down pipes had been attached, we started to think about rain, or lack thereof. We had increased the current water storage capacity by 26,500 litters right at the beginning of our dry season. What good are new shiny empty water tanks? After contacting the Ministry of Education and waiting only a several days (a surprisingly short amount of time), we got word that a barge cart of water would be servicing the Yasawa group islands and would be leaving the Lautoka wharf the very next day. At this point, I knew better than to hold my breath and was in complete shock when the barge did in fact show up about a week later! It felt too good to be true! I was simply amazed by the Ministry’s quick response- it was truly a first.

We had successfully more than doubled the current water storage capacity at Ratu Naivalu Memorial School by changing the roofing on three school buildings, installing gutters on nine buildings, fixing two existing but broken tanks, and adding five new tanks to the school compound. All the work had been done, yet one thing still remained. I had to organize a Clean Water Program in order to increase community awareness of the importance of clean water and find an opportunity to thank the community for their hard work and support.

We planned a simple program including student presentations, dramas, and songs to help us better understand the prevention of water-borne diseases and the importance of clean water, an address from the nurse, and a thank you from me to the community. At the end of the program, we held an official ribbon cutting ceremony where Maravu, my counter part, was asked to officially open the project. To thank me, the school manager gave a speech of appreciation and they prepared a nice meal to close the program. It feels incredible to have completed this long, challenging project and to see a physical change I have helped make at the school. The achievement of this water project is a step toward the elimination of our on going water shortages at Ratu Naivalu Memorial School and it is my hope it will help keep generation after generation healthy! Vinaka na wai! Thanks for the water!


Students were very excited to participate in our Clean Water Program!


Me thanking the community for their hard work and support throughout the duration of this project.


Maravu, my counterpart and Fijian father, cutting the ribbon to signify the official opening of our project.


I am so proud of the work we have accomplished together! Without the hard work and dedication of Maravu, this project would have been impossible.


The school management, head teacher, Maravu and I celebrating the completion of this difficult project!


So now, it is on to the next project….


  1. sherrislater

    This is such an amazing story Adriane. I’ve been following it all along. What a journey it has been since the major storm and to take you to this point of resolution. Although i know this is all ongoing. But to learn to take all these upsets in stride, shows such strength of grit and imagination. We are all so proud of you. And so glad you’re such a good writer! You make us all feel like we are there with you, except on the couch reading sipping on buckets of fresh water with ice in our hermetically sealed environments…but other than that…we’re with you! Thank you so much for sharing these chapters in such a vivid way! All the best! your moms friend Sherri!


  2. Romana

    Wow, I can so relate to the trials and tribulations of the water project. I’ve been visiting the Yasawas for years and started bringing solar lights with me. Last year (2015) I brought 2 small solar panels and installed them on a couple of houses. Then earlier in 2016 I brought 2 more solar panels and a water pump with me. My personal little project was to install a water pump in Naisisili Village on Nacula Island (behind Safe Landing Resort). I saw that the island had running water in the past when they had their generator. So knowing solar power I sourced a 12 volt pump and asked the villagers to build a tank stand and dig a well. Over 3 months from December till March when I arrived I was reassured time and again that it would be. When I got there, nothing had been done. Instead the 4 poles for the tank stand had been used for a new kitchen.
    Anyway I installed the 2 new solar panels and then added LED lighting to 2 houses and a tiny shop. I wired up the pump, dug 4 post holes and a well and connected a hose up to the pump. Now it is August and they’ve not done anything. 😦 It sits there unused.
    Mind you, I have thought of a idea to help motivate people next time. I figured everyone likes getting something better than other villages have it. I figured if doing a project, it would be good to explain there is a lot of demand for it, and if things are not done, you’ll have to do the project at another village. For example “Oh, we’re giving you a ten thousand dollar water project, and we would like some help for installing it, as it is for your village. No, we don’t have milk or tea sorry. Maybe I should have it put in the other village that wants it, they said they’d be happy to help me, and offered me some tea as well.”
    Of course having the village chief on side helps too. Good to know now, but would have been wonderful to know at the start.
    I love and miss the Yasawas. I hope to be back soon. I do small scale solar power systems as a hobby. I was wondering if many were damaged? I’ve seen lots of pictures of damaged solar power systems in the Yasawas. In March I tested some bent over damaged solar panels on Nacula and they often still generate power even with all of the glass shattered and the panel bent. Only with the panel surface punctured or ripped do they stop working. So it is best to gather up any broken solar panels as they can often be re-used but at lower power output. Still considering their cost to the locals that’s better than nothing.
    Thanks for your blog.



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