“So where next?”
It was September 1st 2006. We’d just welcomed the ‘first footers’ onto Vorovoro’s golden sands and Tui Mali had accepted our offer of the tabua (whales tooth) as our social contract with his community. We had begun.
I’m not sure who had asked the question but it stuck in the back of my mind.
Finding Vorovoro has changed a lot of things. And I know I’m not the only one.
But finding another Vorovoro wasn’t a priority on that perfect day in September. Our job was to build Vorovoro and we committed ourselves to a minimum of three years.
It worked. Not easily, but it did work. The project is ongoing and, although some months are slower – even in Fiji – than others, it’s a way of life now. Hopefully for a long time yet. Claire’s recent Vorovoro sums up why it was worth it.
But how did I go from an island in Fiji to a beach in Sierra Leone?
As we celebrated our three year birthday on Vorovoro last year I finally started to look seriously where we might go next. It wasn’t for lack of offers.
I’ve kept a special file in my inbox marked Tribewanted II. It’s where I procrastinate.
People still find it difficult to describe what Tribewanted is. I do too. Here’s where I think we’re at: “Our mission is to build and sustain cross-cultural communities in beautiful places that benefit locals and visitors; inspiring positive change within and far beyond the village.”
So with this clearly in mind I clicked through the ‘Tribewanted II’ file….Sierra Leone wasn’t there. But soon I was.
Last year a good friend invited me to visit his football academy and school in Ghana. There he told me about a similar project he was managing in Sierra Leone. I made the short journey with him to Freetown and quickly fell for this chaotic, charming, beautiful country.
Later in the year I was introduced to an Italian living in New York who worked in Sierra Leone. I know, I know. But this is how these things work. Filippo Bozotti made a film about called Bling – blood diamonds and hip-hop – and had been fundraising and supporting mircrofinance, education and computer literacy through the Shine on Sierra Leone foundation. Filippo was keen to bring a new kind of tourist to Sierra Leone and was looking for the right model.
A natural partnership formed and in Janaury this year Filippo, myself and a local partner – Dr.Michel Sho Sawyer – met in Freetown to see what might be possible.
Three months later we had secured a long-term agreement for a few acres of land at my favourite beach – John Obey – on the awesome Freetown peninsula and burgeoning relationship with the local community.
Right now – as we share this opportunity for the first time with our members and beyond – I’m as excited as I was when we first found Vorovoro.
Four years later, ‘where we went next’ has finally arrived.