The British Virgin Islands are the jewels of the Caribbean. The landscape is awash with natural wonders and stunning beauty. Recently, tourism and economic growth have threatened the delicate ecological balance. Lifeworks-BVI bases its core projects around some of these issues to help sustain a healthy environment.
During the program, we live with the rest of our service team aboard a sailing vessel, as everyone in the BVI has to move around by boat. Plus, living aboard allows us to visit most every island while providing a perfect floating home. It's refreshing to be out on the water where there are cool breezes, and a great sense of camaraderie comes from working together as a crew. We start off working with the Darwin Initiative. This organization is involved in many aspects of monitoring and protecting the environment, and specifically in the tagging and releasing of sea turtles.
The BVI is home to miles of coral reefs. In collaboration with the Marine Parks Authority, we will work together as a crew to sail from island to island and help to protect the more sensitive reefs and their wildlife. We are able to play a key role in their mission by assisting in the repair and maintenance of the Marine Park moorings.
Working with the Department of Conservation in Tortola, we help to protect important mangrove systems by replanting seedlings along exposed shores and monitoring existing nursery sites and mangrove forests. When we are not working on service projects, we spend time snorkeling around the reefs and learning to sail.
Spending time on land is another way to explore the islands. We visit local schools to run programs, play games, and make crafts with children. Painting community centers, mapping national park sites, and cleaning up beaches are some of the other land-based services that Lifeworkers provide.
While service work forms the core of our experience, we'll sneak in a lot of fun too. We'll find time to snorkel the reefs, climb Mount Sage, barbecue on the beach, listen to steel bands as the day winds down and swing in a hammock under the stars while riding at anchor.
- President's Volunteer Service Award, BVI National Parks and Fisheries Dept.