Infinity Expedition - Home of Sea Gypsies | TONGA Research
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TONGA Research

 

While other programs do great work by bringing clinics to the islands, Floating Foundation is bringing medical supplies and know-how to volunteer candidates in remote island villages.
We work with doctors, paramedics, pharmacists and healthcare professionals in both Tonga and aboard to design a training manual. This enables our candidates to learn escalation plans, basic first aid, ongoing care, and public health during a five day training program. Volunteers join us to help with our teaching, which is very practical. We connect our candidates to local medical officials and enable them to care for their community in dealing with a myriad of issues.
We have conducted this work for two years, starting with one village in 2015 and expanding to three villages (with 23 candidates trained) in 2016.
This year our program expands again, reaching six islands and up to eight communities. Thanks to a generous soul, a private yacht is used as a staging area for these missions, and is the base for all our volunteers and preparations.
Medical equipment is donated in New Zealand by various hospitals through the charity Medical Aid Abroad, and shipped up by sponsors and private vessels.
We aim to increase the medical self reliance of these outlying communities so they can avoid tragedy and pain with better knowledge and supplies.
Floating Foundation Research Projects:
Floating Foundation supports research work as part of a vision to use data to enable environment-saving decision-making. In 2016 we supported humpback whale behaviour research and we will continue to support this project in 2017, as well as adopt a handful of other projects.
We invite volunteers to provide essential support for these projects, giving them an insight into the scientific methods, whilst training them to use the required equipment to gather data.
From whale behaviour in response to human interaction, reef health assessments, plankton health sampling, and microplastics research, we are connecting volunteers with projects that can help shape the way humans interact with our world.

Volunteer Information Pack

Thank you for taking the first step with us. We are happy you are interested in joining the 2017 Expedition in Tonga.

To help you understand more about what is involved, this document will provide you information on dates, travel arrangements, accommodation, risks and the costs of joining us in Tonga.

Our Values

Before listing details and responsibilities of the expedition we would like to share some of our basic values and what we care about.

Appreciation – Enjoying the whole project, being together with great people and the amazing nature

Community – Giving and taking, supporting each other Giving Back – Sense of responsibility to help others or the world around us Respect – Respecting the environment, cultures and each other Resilience – Finding the positives and opportunities for growth in each

moment Reliability – Being punctual and taking responsibility for your tasks

Living on this boat together, you will be part of a team. We will recognise and appreciate your work. This whole project would not exist with you. We also care about your personal skills; you could have new ways to contribute or skills to share with the rest of the crew. As soon as you join us, you will become a valued member of the Floating Foundation.

Please see Page 14 for our Ethical Statements.

What exactly are my responsibilities and what training will I receive?

The responsibilities you take on will depend on whether you are supporting the medical outreach or research support projects, and also on your personal preference and experience.

General Responsibilities

Regardless of your choice of project, every crewmember on the ship has responsibilities. These are part of living in a community and provide chances to learn and connect with others. Here are some of the basic responsibilities.

Preparing meals as part of a roster Learning the rules of the boat Keeping your quarters tidy Cleaning/doing dishes as part of a roster

Medical Outreach

You will be responsible for helping deliver education and practical training with first aid and community health in remote villages. This means you will be encouraged to:

Learn (and follow) customs and basic language skills Assist with sorting, packing and preparing medical supplies and kits Study the training manual with your team and make efforts to understand the

modules we teach Work with your team to plan lessons and develop teaching ideas Work with your fellow volunteers to lead the teaching of a module

Research Support

You will be responsible for supporting researchers and research projects and gaining the skills required to do so. There will be a number of various roles and chances to try many activities. You will be encouraged to:

Learn the science behind the research from the scientists or otherwise Learn to use various tools or equipment Venture out with researchers to gather data Operate tools and equipment

Process data Clean and prepare equipment and gear Help develop improvements or ideas for better research

With whom will I be working?

S/V ‘Infinity’ will be the home to between 14 and 22 people at any moment. All of these people have worked hard and sacrificed much to be aboard – we expect you to find many shared traits and values!

Clemens Gabriel – Captain and owner of ‘Infinity’ Clemens will be in charge of the safe operation of ‘Infinity’. He is responsible for the safety of all crew and the ship. Any legal order given by him should be obeyed in situations of danger etc. He will be mostly helping us operate the tenders as well as maintain the vessel and her systems. We will be moving the main ship irregularly as required by weather or operational areas.

Craig Koning Founder. Craig will be working to ensure the projects are operating as best they can, that the teams are completing their objectives and that everyone is having a good time doing so.

Gary Paul Operations Manager. Gary oversees the daily operations – this includes rosters, training, logistics, project support, and general day to day operations.

Social Media/Media Manager – capturing footage, blogging, and sharing our experiences with the world

Community Manager – assisting with the induction of volunteers, creating community, having a positive experience as well as providing support, mediation, and help for any member of our crew with any issue.

Research Staff – There may be up three research staff aboard at any time conducting work from the vessel. If present during your time, they will be happy to teach you about their work and host presentations on the topic.

Research Volunteers – Depending on the date, there may be up to eight volunteers supporting the research operations.

Medical Outreach Volunteers – Depending on the date, there may be up to five volunteers aboard, supplying villages with medical knowledge and equipment.

About Tonga

General: The Kingdom of Tonga is a constitutional monarchy, but was an executive monarchy until 2010. The main island is very political with many representatives from USA, China, New Zealand, Australia, and the EU. Life in the island group of Vava’u is very different – much more rural and simple.

Customs: Most of Tonga is very religious and there are some traditions and conventions we should respect. We will train you in any relevant subtleties. Getting to us should not require too much cultural nous. As usual be polite and learn some basics in Tongan. You will learn some language aboard but get used to saying: Malo (thank you).

Communications: We highly recommend you speak to your mobile service provider before attempting roaming. New Zealanders on Vodafone can use their normal phone and data for a fee of $5 a day (call to confirm it is activated on your account) and you can pick up a Digicel simcard in Tonga for quite cheap. 3G data is now available quite widely in the area. We will provide a connection for selected periods and have satellite communications for emergencies.

Further Travel: While in Tonga you may wish to explore beyond the areas of our operation. This is encouraged and we can recommend some great operators to help you get the best experience.

Risks: Please see Page 13 for risks.

Living aboard ‘Infinity’

Accommodation: ’Infinity’ is a 120 foot (36 meter) sailing ketch (has two masts) which has a variety of accommodation options aboard.

There are a range of sleeping options from crew bunks in a hallway, rooms with a single large bed to double or triple rooms with two beds. Crew can be expected to share a room. Bunk allocation may change during the trip as needs change.

Food

Meals are often quite basic due to the lack of variety available and the high costs of imported food, however, with imagination, amazing meals can be created with local Tongan ingredients. All meals are prepared aboard by crew according to a roster, guided by more experienced chefs amongst us.

Our 2016 expedition team ate very well over the five months despite a tiny kitchen. Preparing and appreciating food together is one way that the community bonds (so bring along your grandma’s secret recipes.)

You can expect lots of fresh bread (baked daily), homemade pasta, fresh papaya, bananas and other fruit to complement the tropical views. We cook all vegetarian meals aboard the yacht – this is in line with our environmental values. If you have any particular requirements, we are happy to cater as best as circumstances allow.

Please get in touch if you have dietary requirements.

Social Spaces

There are many social spaces for you to relax, talk, meditate, work or just read a book. We have a library room (which doubles as a movie room), large aft cabin/project space, a huge saloon and plenty of room on the fore-deck and aft-deck. You can even climb the rigging if you want to get a moment alone.

Having Fun

Balancing our work, duties, learning, and our enjoyment is essential. We take excursions to tiny islands, explore caves and drink rum in a coconut by a fire under the stars.

You can learn new skills underwater, explore the jungle, sleep on deck, or go on one our famous impromptu adventures. Either way, we expect to find time for all crew to unwind and appreciate the unique location and situation we are in.

When is this all happening and how do I get there?

Dates:

14th June: Floating Foundation crew join ‘Infinity’ in Tonga

28th June: Medical Ex. 1 Start Date – New crew arrive

1st July: Research team on site and research volunteer spaces now open

8th July: Medical Ex. 1 Finish Date – Crew disembark

Medical Ex. 2 Start Date – New crew arrive

19th July: Medical Ex. 2 Finish Date – Crew disembark

22nd July: Medical Ex. 3 Start Date – New crew arrive

2nd August: Medical Ex.3 Finish Date – Crew disembark

Medical Ex.4 Start Date – New crew arrive

12th August: Medical Ex. 4 Finish Date – Crew disembark

16th August: Medical Ex. 5 Start Date – New crew arrive

26th August: Medical Ex. 5 Finish Date – Crew disembark

Medical Ex. 6 Start Date – New crew arrive 6th September: Medical Ex. 6 Finish Date – Crew Disembark

Flights

We are operating in the remote location of Vava’u, in the Kingdom of Tonga. It is your responsibility to ensure you are in Vava’u on the day your expedition starts. We can make alternative arrangements in special circumstances.

Unless you are flying from Fiji directly to Vava’u, it is wise to build in a day or two of leeway either side of your intended arrival day, as weather can delay the small inter- island aircraft, our boat or your ferry.

Ensure your travel insurance will cover your expenses if your flight is delayed due to weather conditions.

Flights from Auckland to Tongatapu are around $200-$250 NZD. The internal flight between Tongatapu and Vava’u costs around $220 NZD. (http://realtonga.to/flights- schedule/ )

If you are flying from Australia or U.S.A., you should route through Fiji to Vava’u. The flight from Fiji to Vava’u is recommended due to its direct nature and reliability.

There is a ferry operating on a very basic schedule, a couple of trips a week with a timetable only released a week in advance. This costs between $99 and $199 for the 24-hour trip. You can book a room with a meal or just ‘rough it’ like in this story:

EconomyFares vs. PremiumFares Story: FIRST HAND REPORT OF 24 HOUR FERRY

How much does this cost? What is included and where does the money go?

There is some variation in costs between operations:

Medical Outreach Volunteers: $135 NZD per DAY.

Research Volunteers: $200 NZD per DAY.

There is also a one off joining cost to become a member of $100 NZD. This covers your personal equipment and gear issued to you.

These costs cover your transfers, accommodation, training, food, water, documentation, and required equipment.

This is the primary fundraising for the activity you are directly engaged in. This covers the cost of the vessel, the staff, the medical gear, other equipment, transport costs, administration, fuel and other operational costs.

The Floating Foundation is undergoing assessment by the New Zealand Charities Commission. We expect results within a month. This assessment may have a positive impact on the costs for volunteering.

Recognition for volunteers

Volunteers who complete the project will receive recognition from the Floating Foundation in the form of certification and if requested a reference contact.

You will also become a member of the Floating Foundation Expedition Community which will enable you to provide feedback and input towards our future activities. We hope that you continue to be passionate about creating change in the world.

Recognition for Crew

Upon satisfactory completion of work with the Floating Foundation, we would be happy to provide a reference, endorsement and a written recommendation based on the skills and attitude you exhibited while aboard.

We are a growing organisation and appreciate your time and energy. You will always be a member of the Floating Foundation Expedition Community (F.F.E.C) and will be issued a certificate showing your contribution towards our mission in Tonga.

Being a member of the F.F.E.C will enable you to provide feedback and input towards our future activities. We hope that you continue to be passionate about creating change in the world.

Risks

Both the Australian “Smartraveller” and the New Zealand “Safe Travel” websites advise travellers to exercise normal safety precautions in Tonga. Safe Travel states “There are no significant security issues in Tonga”.

Vector Borne Infections: There are concerns about various mosquito borne illnesses in Tonga and the greater South West Pacific Ocean. Luckily, these come in waves and the last particularly nasty wave left in 2014. These normally give flu like symptoms, maybe some joint pain and tiredness. By sleeping aboard the yacht, away from the shore, we do not expose ourselves to mosquitos. We also will be taking precautions of high strength mosquito repellent for bush walks and other onshore activities. In 14 months of our operations in Tonga, none of our crew were afflicted by any illnesses.

Zika is making an appearance in the media currently and there were some suspected cases in Tonga in early 2015. This has not eventuated into a significant threat but is considered under our harm reduction plan.

Weather Related Risks: We will be entering Tonga after the cyclone season has finished and as such expect no large storms or strong winds. If weather is affecting our morale or impeding progress, we will make alternative plans to stay safe and happy. This may include heading for a port or simply taking it easy in a sheltered bay. If we are at risk of missing a flight or pickup, smaller boats can be used to shuttle between our location in the outer islands and the main port. Weather has not majorly impacted our operations in the previous three years.

Injury: Operating from a yacht has risks. The main port has a hospital and a decent western doctor. High level facilities are a short flight away. Please ensure you have adequate medical insurance for transfer flights to NZ if you have to be airlifted to better facilities. We will do anything in our power to ensure anyone injured in our crew is taken care of in the best way possible.

Vaccines and medical information:

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus- pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Hepatitis A vaccine and Typhoid are other recommendations for this area. These are a concern during drought conditions when water supplies are scarce and/or contaminated. However, we will be sourcing our fresh water from rain water or making our own water using a reverse osmosis water maker.

Visit the CDC website for more information on travelling Tonga.

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/tonga

Medical and Travel Insurance is HIGHLY recommended. It is up to each individual to arrange his or her own coverage.

We recommend Divers Alert Network as a medical insurer. You might also ask your insurance company about priority medical evacuation charter flights.

It is your responsibility to provide Floating Foundation and the captain of the yacht with information regarding any relevant previous or ongoing medical concerns and to supply your own medication for these – if they impact your ability to function physically or mentally in some way. Discuss this with one of the staff before

committing to the expedition.

Legal and Insurance

Floating Foundation has public liability insurance to cover our operations but you will require personal medical insurance and any insurance for your own equipment. We will always do the best to ensure every one of our crew is taken care of if any emergency arises.

Before joining the vessel, you are also expected to read and sign a crew contract that relates to the responsibilities of Floating Foundation and you as a crew member.

Ethical Statements

The primary goal of the Floating Foundation is to create positive impact in the world by supporting charitable projects and research while connecting people to the work we do.

The Floating Foundation has a diverse membership of global citizens, and accepts members regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, beliefs, age, disability, or any other category.

The members of the Floating Foundation are encouraged to share, discuss, and debate ideas, concepts, and opinions. However, discrimination, bullying, and harassment from its members will not be tolerated. The Floating Foundation has an ethical responsibility to provide a safe space for its members, and must take action if this space is threatened by discrimination, bullying, or harassment.

Complaints of discrimination, bullying, and harassment are taken with the utmost seriousness by the Floating Foundation staff, and are treated with the utmost confidentiality, understanding, and care.

The Floating Foundation strives to work respectfully with the Tongan people to ensure no negative impact occurs on Tonga, the Tongan people, and the Tongan culture.

The Floating Foundation strives to limit the impact on the natural environment, and works with all its members to ensure minimal or no negative impact occurs due to our activities

Due to the environment that the Floating Foundation operates in, some operational aspects may not be able to be undertaken by those with extreme disabilities. The Floating Foundation will work with its members to ensure an appropriate role is found.

Due to the environment that the Floating Foundation operates in, some operational aspects may be traditionally inappropriate for those of certain genders due to cultural sensitivities and beliefs. The Floating Foundation will work to ensure members receive appropriate training for these operational aspects.

Okay, what’s next?

If you are ready to join the expedition you will surely have lots of questions. We invite you to book a Skype call with us as soon as possible to talk and find out more about you.

Once we have spoken to you personally via Skype and received any further information from you, we will let you know if you have been accepted to volunteer within one week from the Skype call.

We are looking forward to your application.