In 2007 I set foot on a very special island. Located an hours boat ride from Labassa in north Fiji, the island of Vorovoro had open its doors to the world, and i wanted in.
Tribewanted was the name of the project that was taking place on Vorovoro. The brain child of Ben Keane (@benkeene) and featured in its own documentary series on the BBC, the projects idea was simple but brilliant, to give tourists and backpackers like me the chance to come to a place of such beauty, and allow us the opportunity to help build a sustainable village within the local Fijian community. Jobs would be created for locals and they would all become owners of all that was created once the project was finished. 6 months into year 1 of 3, the island looked like this …
Taken from my diary entry in 2007 –
“I sleep in the big Bure located meters from the beach, in fact our whole village is. I started sleeping in the loft space with all the spiders, cockroaches, rats and other little nasties (all named Sebastian) before moving downstairs. We have bucket showers, compost toilets, use coconut soap and have no electricity. We spend the days doing as we please, some days we laze in the hammocks, go swimming in the sea, get eaten by mozzies or read. Other days we help with the building work, explore, clean parts of the island that were hit by a cyclone, visit the school on the neighboring island of Mali (and get smashed about by 12 year olds playing rugby who are already bigger than us) or build whatever we feel will benefit the island. This last week I was helping on the new compost pit.”
Another diary entry –
“Each new tribe member has to have an initiation ceremony where they meet the real chief of the area tribewanted has leased. Tu-Mali is a really nice guy, very well respected by everyone and head of all ceremonies. During the ceremony we offer him Kava for letting us stay on his land and then prayers are said before the kava is drunk. Kava is a root veg I believe, and the Fijians pound it down into a powder before adding it to water and serving it. It’s quite social to be involved in a round of kava drinking, and watching it being given out at the ceremonies is really interesting. Its not like alcohol, it’s a little of the opposite I guess, a relaxant. It puts me to sleep. An acquired taste!”