Friday, October 19, 2012

Behind the scenes of an Island NGO

as many of you know I am a board member and active volunteer for Vava'u Environmental Protection Association (VEPA). We formed VEPA in 2009 to engage communities in their natural resources through education, awareness, conservation projects and sustainable development.

In the 3 short years that VEPA has run we have achieved a lot, waste management in town, education and awareness programs, coral reef rehabilitation, mangrove studies and restoration to name but a few. As all are volunteers at present, the continuance of VEPA depends on a lot of work and potential funding sources.

We are grateful to have help from overseas such as Keep Vava'u Green based in Utah and like minded people. Here on the ground in Vava'u, we rely on our friends of VEPA and volunteers to spearhead projects and create empowerment of communities to their environment.

We are continuing to move forward and have had massive help locally through donations and various fund raisers. So our goals are also moving forward and we are starting our Nature Explorers club next month to engage the youth in their environment and looking to create ambassadors. We are also currently searching for our first office, Dive Vava'u currently hosts the volunteers but we are ready to make the next step. All we need is a small, rent reasonable place for a part time worker and volunteers to create and propose our next projects.

I am also moving forward with VEPA and making it a more full time role for me as we progress, this will help with the day to day running and engaging of communities. (I even have uniforms being made for meetings at the moment!!!!!!). The greatest progression we have accomplished so far is that we are still here, still chugging along, all of us that are a part of VEPA, give as much time as we can and our efforts show. Our first AYAD volunteer Elana is taking us to the next step and making us an easier recognised NGO with her work and it is greatly appreciated.

We are hoping to continue our work and strengthen our relationships with Government departments such as Ministry of Lands, Environment and Climate Change and Natural Resources (MLECCNR) and   Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries as well as others.

So really this post is to thank all those involved both behind the scenes and out the front, I am not going to say we are there but at least this feels like it is going in the right direction with a bundle of energy behind it.

Malo'aupito to all involved.


  1. VEPA is a fantastic organisation with an amazing amount of drive and dedication. Karen you forgot to thank yourself! You are an amazing contributor to VEPA and the Vava'u community and environment are lucky to have you on board.


  2. Ditto to 'Elana's comment. :) One of the things that striked me about Karen at first was her contribution to the environment and conservation movement in Vava'u, so I've been kind of stalkerish in keeping up with VEPA's work in Vava'u through her blogs. Thank you Karen for your great contribution to my home island. Thank you too 'Elana for taking time to volunteer in Vava'u away from your home and family, how selfless! You all inspire me! - 'Eseta

  3. Btw, thanks for the shout out, Karen. I'm just so amazed with what you have all accomplished, and the momentum keeps going!