I am writing to you today from the solar house in Sierra Leone. After nearly a year of discussing a new partnership with Vorovoro, Fiji, we have decided it makes the most sense to step-back from the management of the project and hand over the infrastructure to the local community. I have written to Tui Mali and the Mataqali this week to communicate this.
Professionally for Tribewanted it is the right decision. Personally it was a harder one to make.
Vorovoro was always ambitious – we agreed a lease in 2006 that was, in hindsight, too expensive putting pressure on the project when business was slow in 2010. New lease fees from the government are even higher which is why it does not make sense to pursue a long-term one.
For 5 years we enjoyed being part of something very special on Vorovoro. We learnt a huge amount from our Fijian family as well as ourselves and what it really means to live more sustainably. I will be surprised if I ever meet such a hospitable and beautiful people again. I thank Tui Mali especially for everything he and his family has done to share their culture and community with the ‘Vuravura’ (the world). Living on Vorovoro often did feel like a paradise not so much because of the island but because of the people that came together on it. I’ve not experienced anything like it before or since. Maybe I never will. It was and I am sure will continue to be one of the happier places in the world.
At this moment I also fondly remember those that helped Vorovoro grow but who are no longer with us today: Peta Tale, Raina Jensen, and Justin Martindale.
The Cahills (Tribewanted Project Managers in 2009/10) are now formally seeking a partnership with the Mataqali to continue community tourism on Vorovoro, run locally in Fiji. This is good news. As soon as this progresses I will let you know so that those wishing to return to the island can. I look forward to returning myself. We wish the Cahills, the landowners and the community of Mali the very best of success. Everything Tribewanted and its members built and left on the island will remain to help provide a platform for the next phase of the project.
The idea of Tribewanted has always been to build a new type of international and local community that was sustianble, innovative & significant in its positive impact. This mission has not changed. The momentum and lessons that Vorovoro gave us have rolled on and with a great team we will continue our successful start in Sierra Leone where this week we opened the project at John Obey for season two . In 2012 we will open a new location and based on recent tribe survey feedback will launch an exciting Co-op model through a brand new online platform that is already well on its way to being built.
So, sad as I am not to be making regular trips back to Fiji I know this is the right decision and now feel freer and more focused on taking our tribe forward.
Thank you for playing your part.