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It’s ‘Fiji Time’

by Claudia Lifton-Schwerner

Nyack High School and SUNY Oswego graduate Claudia Lifton-Schwerner won a Facebook contest last Spring to blog on behalf of Global Vision International (GVI) about their animal and environmental protection projects around the world. Her first stop was the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Her latest blog post is from Fiji.

“Fiji time” is the appropriate term given to describe the lifestyle of the Fijian people.  To put it simply, it means no stressing, no rushing, and never leave your house without a smile.  I have never met a people that abide by the philosophy “Don’t worry, Be happy” so vigilantly.  Over this past week I have happily immersed myself into the Fijian culture – Fiji time and all.

I have been staying in the backpackers paradise, Bamboo Hostel.  I am shamelessly enjoying the amenities offered, including running water, flushing toilets, electricity, internet and, the big one, AIR CONDITIONING!  Bamboo is like summer camp for young travelers.  Every night there is a Kava gathering under the grassy roof of an outdoor shelter, complete with guitars and sing-alongs. My new Fijian friends have kindly deemed me the “Bamboo singer” as I spend most nights harmonizing with these talented musicians.

During the day, I have been volunteering at the local animal shelter, helping the staff and volunteers with their daily duties and, of course, cuddling the dangerously adorable puppies and kittens.  It feels good to be back to my roots of cleaning up dog poop and helping to socialize the animals (more-so the latter).  I have missed spending time in animal shelters after graduating college and leaving my second family at Paws Across Oswego County, the animal shelter at which I worked while attending SUNY Oswego.  The selfless people who have dedicated their lives to the homeless animals of Fiji remind me so much of my PAOC family.  Unfortunately, funding is so limited here that it is difficult to give the animals what they deserve, so with the help of a friend I have created a fundraising page in the hopes of aiding these people in their endless plight to care for these animals.

After speaking with the vet in the clinic, I have decided to dedicate the funds raised on this site to build better housing for the animals. Parvo, Gastrointestinal problems and other diseases are spread very quickly between the foster puppies due to unsanitary housing conditions. Fiji’s humidity causes the wooden fences to mold quickly, and the flooring of the pens are very difficult to keep clean. One month ago several puppies died due to these issues. If any of my readers wish to contribute, I, and my friends at West Charity Trust (animals and humans alike), would greatly appreciate it.  Every dollar will directly aid an animal in need.

I am very grateful to be able to take part in all of these wonderful adventures after spending last week bedridden with a foot injury.  In my shoeless excitement, I was playing with the kids on base and felt a sharp pain in my foot.  A large piece of bamboo lodged itself into the bottom of my foot and broke into several pieces under the skin.  I left base to visit the doctor in Nadi, who had to cut and scrape out the lingering pieces of wood.  It has been a painful recovery but I am walking again (with a hilarious limp) but walking nonetheless.

Claudia’s worldwide journey for Global Vision International includes stops in Mexico, Fiji, Thailand, South Africa and Kenya. Read her previous posts on NyackNewsAndViews and follow her adventures around the world at

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