Tuvuca Island - GMA Program

The GMA program has been postponed due to Cyclone Winston. Sea Mercy will be focusing our GMA resources and volunteers on rebuilding the devastated island communities.

Remote Island of Tuvuca

As you can see from the above map and below video, Tuvuca is a lush and beautiful remote island that has incredible potential to not only become self-sufficient, but to thrive and prosper. Located 30 miles south of Vanua Balavu (airport, port, hospital for the northern Lau group), Tuvuca is actually in a good location for training, resupply, and a market outlet for their income goods. Because of the small and shallow entrance to their protected lagoon, larger or deep keeled transport vessels cannot enter to deliver the support and equipment needed. Although they are one of the most technologically underdeveloped islands in the Lau Group (water, power, tools, shelter), the 170 people living on Tuvuca are some of the most hardworking and active in pursuing economic development opportunities. They also have some of the most fertile land and geological advantages available. What is missing is the training, tools, basic infrastructure and volunteers needed to help implement them.

In addition to the October land survey, we also did an aerial survey of Tuvuca in preparation for the Agriculture and Economic Development program (Global Mercy Armada).

Tuvuca is the first of 9 targeted islands that we will be assisting during our 2016 Global Mercy Armada program. Below is an overview of the current income programs in place, and then followed by the potential programs we are hoping to implement to assist those living on this remote island. Our "Armada" vessels will be delivering the equipment, tools, and training experts to the remote islands from June 8th through July 27th.

7-Week Program Schedule

The GMA program is 7 weeks long and volunteers/vessels can join the program for one week or multiple weeks. The weekly schedule is based from Wednesday to Wednesday due to only arrival and departure flights to/from Vanua Balavu. The goal is for Sea Mercy GMA volunteers is to assist the local citizens with the implementation work, not do it for them. The GMA volunteers will work alongside the local citizens as each program is put into place and for the local and international volunteers to build a lasting relationship.

    Week 1 - June 8-15th
    Week 2 - June 15-22nd
    Week 3 - June 22-29th
    Week 4 - June 29-July 6th
    Week 5 - July 6-13th
    Week 6 - July 13-20th
    Week 7 - July 20-27th

Cost Per Volunteer for 1 Week

Although this will be the most incredible "working holiday" you will ever experience, please understand that this is NOT a island vacation getaway. Instead, our goal is to operate each GMA week at cost and provide an opportunity for as many people to participate that wish to join us. Based on past operational costs, below are the per volunteer cost of joining a GMA week.

GMA Items Costs per Volunteer (1 week)
Food & Fuel (transport & propane) $400
Sea Mercy Medical Team Operations $50
Tools & Equipment Donation (one time cost) $300
Total $750
Each Additional Volunteer Week $395

To participate in any of the above GMA rotations, please use the 2016 GMA Registration form or email us with any questions.

International Volunteer Program & Travel Plans

Land-based Volunteers - land-based volunteers can volunteer for one to seven one-week assignments. Volunteers joining the implementation program must be able to bring a specific skill or labor ability to support the various implementation programs and have a proven health record per the application process.

    Specific Program Experts - Beekeeping, Vanilla, VCO, Dilo, Cacao, Coffee, Sandalwood, Teak, Water/Irrigation, Storage
    Medical - Each one week rotation will need to have a full medical team available to address any basic and emergency medical needs encountered
    Farming - Specific crop expertise (food based, vanilla, cacao, coffee, sandalwood, composting, etc.) is important for the large programs, but those with small garden expertise is also desired for personal garden development
    Building - Expertise in wood construction, concrete, roofing, road/trails, plumbing, are needed in all aspects of these programs
    Clearing & Preparing - Those who can operate chain saws, axes & machetes, and have a strong back to support the clearing of land for income crops are very important
    Cooking - Those with experience in feeding quality food to large numbers of volunteers are vital to insuring the volunteers are well fed and happy.

Vessel-based Volunteers - Since there is not an airport in Tuvuca, we will be relying on the captains and crews of volunteer vessels who are able to support the needs of the various GMA programs.

    Transport of volunteers - Most volunteers will be flying into Vanua Balavu (30 miles) arriving and departing every Wednesday. Vessels will be needed to transport the arriving and departing volunteers to and from VB & Tuvuca each week during the 7 weeks.
    Transport of supplies - There will be staged supplies (tools, food, equipment, starters) in Kaibu, Mago and Vanua Balavu that will need to be transported to Tuvuca before, during and after the 7-week GMA program.
    Cooking assistance - Most meals will be prepared on land, but certain items can be better prepared (baked) on a vessel and assistance in such needs would be greatly appreciated.
    Emergency transport - Although we hope to avoid any such emergencies, having a vessel(s) available for emergency transport to a local hospital (Vanua Balavu) is crucial.

Use our online form (click on the below button) to explore GMA Volunteering!

Current Income Sources (ranked by income):

Sea Cucumbers - Local stocks in shallow waters depleting, their desire & plan is to expand to deeper water. This income source is destroying their reef ecosystems, but until we can develop more effective programs, it unfortunately is their only income source.
Copra Drying - Minimal market access, high labor efforts, low income return.
Beekeeping - After a few years, only 2 of 9 hives are still producing. They are not selling any honey, but consuming locally. Reason for failure, there was no beekeeping training provided and hives were overharvested, causing the bees to leave the hive and/or die off.
Coconut Crab - Crabs currently consumed for local use only.

Potential Income Sources:

Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) - VCO is their best short-term opportunity with plenty of coconut groves. They need the equipment (mechanical grinders & press) and help clearing and developing paths to the groves for harvesting. They will need training on proper & clean VCO press and storage.
Dilo Oil - They need initial training on harvesting, crying and pressing the oil for storage. We have an end market for the oil waiting.
Honey - They will need to gradually add additional hives (island can sustain from 30 to 50 hives) and training will be needed on how to maintain, care and harvest the honey. Advanced training on how to split and expand their hives. See complete PDF Assessment Report link at bottom of page.
Tapa - They are very good skilled at this dying art and produce some beautiful work. They just need a market to sell what they have created (currently available for sale).
Vanilla/Coffee/Cacao - The shaded and protected volcanic cliffs that surround the islands provides for a wonderful growing environment. Land will need to be cleared, ongoing training provided (each step in the growth process), and yearling starters planted in order to eventually harvest a crop in 3-5 years.
Sandalwood/Teak - They should be planting 100-200 trees each year for future harvesting (20+ years).

Key Agricultural Development Needs

Protection of Water Sources - There is a freshwater spring that the village was built around centuries ago. Although it supplies year round drinking water (and bathing area below), unfortunately this spring is exposed to runoff from nearby groundwater (pig/dog feces and other contaminants) that can pose a health risk. We need to either install a containment wall or a direct catchment source (water tank with an overflow) to protect this pure water source.
Farming Tools - With the proper farming tools available for each family (shovel, hoe, rake and machete), the labor required to clear land, plant and produce both food and income crops could be reduced by 5 to 10 times current labor requirements.
Fencing - There are many domestic and wild pigs roaming within the village and across the island. Although a food source for the villagers, these animals are extremely destructive to any agricultural effort and a source for disease in both water and food contamination (feces). For agricultural programs (community farms, personal gardens, and income crops) to succeed and survive initial plantings, the local domestic pigs will need to be contained and income crops will need to be shielded from the wild pigs (or they will need to be trapped and removed).
Expansion of Agricultural Water Sources - There are several freshwater lakes located within 1 mile north of the village that can be used for irrigation of income crops. Access to these resources will require water pipe and solar pumps that will be able to pump the water to water storage tanks stationed near/above the income crops for gravity fed irrigation.
Greenhouse Netting - There is a huge need for safe, protected and secure greenhouse growing areas that will allow seedlings (vanilla, sandalwood, teak, coffee, cacao, etc.) the chance of survival past the difficult first year and ready for planting.

Non-Agricultural Development Needs

Virgin Coconut Oil & Dilo Oil Production Equipment - To move from the manual to a mechanical coconut pulp harvesting process will increase the output by 10 fold. With proper cleaning, the Coconut Oil press can also be used to press the Dilo Oil from the dried dilo nuts (during Dilo season).
Bee Hives & Equipment - They currently have 7 empty hives that a queen and brood can easily be added to each. The addition of one beekeeping suit, smoker and support tools would allow effective and safe maintenance of the hives and minimal shock to the queen and bees.

Education Needs

Adopt a School Program - As you can imagine, the school supplies and equipment can be a scarce commodity on a remote island. Whether it is paper, books, pencils, rulers, chalk, desks, chairs, clips or folders, there is never enough for every child. We are encouraging first world schools, classrooms, individuals and organizations to help make a difference in the future of these kids.

Equipment Planning for Tuvuca

Below is a general list of needs for the agriculture & economic development program for the remote island of Tuvuca. If you have connections to viable in-kind sponsors, please contact us. We are building our funding and equipment needs for each program based on the following:

For Volunteers:

The majority of the below equipment will be brought back to Port Denarau Marina for next year's program or to be used for First Response Fleet needs:

      4 large tents/4 smaller tents (couples tents)

    Sleeping Cots (40)
    Mosquito Netting (40 hanging nets for sleeping)
    Generator & Fuel (spare parts)

      Basic lighting and charging of items (cameras, computers, phones)

    Cooking Equipment & Tools

      Cook stoves & burners, propane
      Pots, pans, utensils, cups, etc
      Wash basins

    Food Storage

      Dry & Cold storage needs (free from bugs and spoilage)

    Medical supplies

      Additional equipment and medical supplies for emergency needs (to exceed the services available at the local clinic)

    Miscellaneous support needs

      Washing clothes
      Temporary showers
      Sunscreen, bug spray, flashlights/batteries
      Water filters & storage

Program Equipment:

Excluding all items listed under "clearing equipment", the remaining program equipment will remain with the villagers.

      Foundations (wax, frames, wire) for 9 dead hives
      New Queen and Brood for 9 dead hives
      Protective Bee Suit
      Smoker, harvesting tools, storage containers

    Clearing Equipment

      3 Chainsaws (all the same brand and size)
        Protective gear (leggings, eyes, ears and gloves)
        Fuel, chain oil, spare chains (20)

      2 Ladders (pruning existing trees)

    Volunteer tools (yellow)

      Shovels (15)
      Axes (5)
      Machetes (10)
      Pickaxe (5)
      Metal Rakes (10)
      Hoes (10)
      4 Wheel barrows
      Rolls of fencing (10)
      Post hole diggers (4)
      Fencing nails/hammer

    Planting Income Crops

      Starters (Vanilla, Sandalwood, Teak, Cacao, Coffee)
      Motorized tiller

    VCO/Dilo Building (pre-constructed and ready to be delivered and put together)

      Concrete for flooring/foundation
      Pre-cut Lumber, windows, roofing, electrical wire and boxes (connect to generator)
      Covered area for drying the Dilo nuts (wire mesh, layered racks, roofing, solar fan)
      Electric Coconut Scraper
      VCO/Dilo Oil Press (manual) and filters
      Storage containers for oil (Dilo and VCO)

    Personal Gardens (Seeds and starters)
    Access to Fresh Water Lake

      2 Solar pumps (one as a functional backup)
      Solar panels (and additional battery storage)
      1500 meters of pipe
      5 Water storage tanks

    Greenhouse Netting

      3 Rolls (50 meters)

Equipment for Villagers:

    30 Farming kits for farms/personal gardens (shovel, hoe, rake and machete)

Make a donation to the GMA Program for Tuvuca!

Please select the below "Donate" to help support our GMA program. This will open up a new and secure (https) PayPal where you can use your credit card or PayPal account. Thank you for your support!

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