Letter from the Director
Meet Jenny Cahill.
Discover her journey to working with a remote Fijian tribe.
Bula sia, friend!
I’m thrilled you are here! Thanks for visiting Bridge the Gap and taking the time to learn more about our unique efforts. I’m especially excited to share with you the dynamic partnership we have created with Vorovoro Island, a remote traditional Fijian island community. Fijian Chief Tui Mali, his family, and BTG have been hard at work for several years to develop a program that offers culturally rich and customized experiences to groups and individual that supports the Fijian community’s sustainable development goals, while retaining the integrity of the local heritage, culture, and land.
My hope is that in exploring this site and learning more about Bridge the Gap, Vorovoro Island, and the Mali tribal community, you’ll get a sense of who we are, what our partnerships are all about, and how you can get involved. There are so many ways you can take part, ranging from strategic partnerships to customized group/private experiences, to investment opportunities, study abroad programs, and more.
So how did Bridge the Gap and our Vorovoro Island partnership come about? Well, I first met Tui Mali, his family and the Mali community way back in 2009. I had come to Vorovoro Island to take part in a voluntourism experience with my family for 10 weeks. Little did I know then how those 10 weeks would change my life and my approach to the world forever! I quickly developed a strong appreciation and affinity not only for the breathtaking beauty of the island, but for the the unique Fijian community who call this island paradise home. It was they who stole my heart. Their approach to life - deeply rooted in the attributes of kindness, humility, respect, and hard work - appealed to me on a profoundly personal level.
And so it was with joy that, as our 10 week stay drew to a close, my family and I accepted the opportunity to live and work on Vorovoro for one year. Over the next year, my family and I were employed to live and work side by side with the Fijian community, providing eco tourism experiences for visitors to Vorovoro Island. As we worked and lived together, I became close to Tui Mali and his family in ways that laid the foundation for what we have created together today. Over the course of that year, the Fijians and my family weathered many storms together, both figuratively and literally. Through it all, I continued to be impressed by their resilience, work ethic, their love for life and family, their ability to make every traveler feel at home, and most of all, their commitment to a better life for future generations in a world and a climate that was rapidly changing.
Over the course of countless conversations, I learned of their dreams and goals for their community and future generations. As I spent my days working alongside my Fijian friends, I came to understand clearly that, with the proper investment of time, education, mentorship, and training, there was no reason why this dynamic community couldn’t reach their goals.
Since that time, Tui Mali, his family, and I have been in an ongoing discussion about their goals and what their hopes are for the future generations of their family and tribal community. Changes are on the horizon and there is pressure from the government to develop their land and maximize its commercial value. The negative effects of climate change on their community and environment mount with each passing year. More than ever, they need to expand their income sources beyond what the sea can provide. And they want to do it in a way that doesn’t require that they compromise their land, culture, or environment to big business hotels or resort tourism. BTG seeks to assist the Fijian community to leverage their skills, ingenuity, and work ethic in strategic partnerships that support community goals, and in ways where Fijians learn to be business owners, retain their profits, and reinvest in their communities, allowing them to secure their own futures and way of life.
Today, Bridge the Gap is the USA based organization that functions as an agent for Vorovoro and Mali Island, working collaboratively with Tui Mali and the Mali community to bring to fruition short and long term projects and opportunities that benefit the local Fijian community as a whole. We seek out and negotiate partnerships that support and contribute to the Mali community in ways that are compatible with and advance the overall goal of maintaining the integrity of the culture, land, and environment. BTG operates with transparency with our Fijian partners - we make all big decisions together. BTG essentially functions as the “bridge” in business matters as well as on the island between cultures - in ways ranging from an overall strategic planning capacity and in leading interactions with various off island and international partners, customers, and others with roles, resources or opportunities to contribute. We are committed to providing customized once-in-a-lifetime educational cultural immersion experiences to our visitors, while simultaneously using the experience of hosting our international friends as part of a continuing mentorship and training program for Fijian community members.
To date we have made much progress and developed some very unique and exciting opportunities for individuals, universities, companies, and organizations. You can learn about some of them here.
And the list could go on! But while much has been accomplished, there is still so much to be done. BTG, Tui Mali, and the Mali community are excited to expand on these successes. We are looking to build new partnerships and expand existing programs to continue the work to secure the island's future. In addition, we are ready to share the life changing Vorovoro Island experience with the world. This tiny distinctive island and her extraordinary people have a way of getting into the hearts of anyone who is lucky enough to visit - time and time again we hear from visitors how the Vorovoro experience has changed or impacted their lives in ways that continue long after the Vorovoro sand is gone from their shoes. I think perhaps Tui Mali says it best when he says, “Vorovoro is the only place in the world where 1 + 1 = 1”.
Now the only question is, who will come to Vorovoro next? Will it be you? I hope so!
If you interested in becoming a part of what we have started or simply want to learn more, please reach out to me directly - let’s chat and see how we can all work together!