Our Team and Partners
Meet The Team
A collective of people with one important thing in common:
Making lives better through travel
Click the photos to learn more!
Jenny has been working closely with Vorovoro since 2009, when she first met this humble remote island community. She became inspired by their desire to shape a future for future generations amidst a rapidly changing world. They quickly became trusted friends, and in time, treasured family. It’s this sustaining connection and ongoing conversation with the Fijian community about their goals that has led to the dynamic and ethical partnership between BTG and Vorovoro today.
Tui Mali is the chief of Vorovoro and Mali Islands, which consist of 5 villages. He spent his life working on a ship, laying fiber optic cables that would eventually connect the world. When he retired, he assumed his role as Chief and returned to Vorovoro. His international travels have informed his decision to support and lead his tribe by focusing on creating ethical sources of income for the Mali people, while honoring and preserving the integrity of their Fijian identity.
Wati is the niece of Tui Mali, and the Fijian counterpart of BTG director, Jenny. Like countless generations before her, she was born and raised on Vorovoro. Wati is involved in all aspects of managing and hosting groups on the island, and enjoys working with Jenny to develop cross cultural programming that allows guests to see and experience Fiji in authentic ways that few ever have the opportunity to do. Wati is also the proud mother to four children.
Ollie first came to Vorovoro when he was just 4 years old. From the moment that his little feet hit the sand, he was at home and eagerly absorbed everything about island life that his Fijian family would teach him. Since then, he has traveled back to Vorovoro many times, assisting his mom Jenny and the Vorovoro team to host study abroad groups on Vorovoro. Now at age 13, Ollie is an official Jr. Intern, helping visitors become oriented with island living and Fijian culture.
Kelly first visited Vorovoro in 2015, as a study abroad student with with Auburn University. As a result of Auburn’s partnership with BTG, she was able to expand her education out of the classroom and experience life from another perspective. Kelly says that thanks to Vorovoro, she’s learned the importance of community, sustainability, the consequences of her decisions, and the power of a conversation. Kelly has worked with BTG ever since as an intern and now as a trip leader.
Nemani has been helping to host groups on Vorovoro since 2007. His commitment to his Fijian heritage combined with his natural inclination to work hard, continue to learn, and be a team player has aided his growth into the dynamic leader he is today. He mentors new Fijian team members and also develops and facilitates cultural programming for visitors. When not on Vorovoro, you will find Nemani hard at work at his biggest passion: furthering the success of his family's farm.
Andrew fell in love with Vorovoro when he visited in 2015 as an Auburn student. The close proximity with nature, the deep cultural immersion, the triumph of relationships over materialism, and the constant laughter made him never want to leave. Andrew has worked with BTG for the past 3 years as an intern, where he has been able to use his background in Mechanical Engineering to explore appropriate technologies. He is looking forward to returning to his Fijian friends.
Poasa is Tui Mali's brother and has also always lived on Vorovoro. He is the father of five children with wife Francis. While he has a wealth of knowledge about many things and certainly all things Vorovoro, he teaches visitors about the indigenous plants on the island. Some of native island plants have incredible medicinal healing components, too! Any visitor is lucky to learn about Vorovoro from Poasa.
Megan met BTG founder, Jenny Cahill, in 2002. They became fast friends, as they were both focused on mothering their children who were also close friends. Megan watched Jenny grow BTG and was honored when she was asked to be part of the team Social Media Manager. Passionate about promoting good work that people do in this world, she found that sharing all the wonderful aspects of BTG was a natural fit. In her free time, Megan paints murals that beautify Indianapolis.
Bogi is the eldest son of Poasa and Francis and has six children himself. He is another boat captain for BTG. He also serves as general team support for Team Fiji. When he's not on Vorovoro, he works security at a local lumber yard in Malau, which is about 20 minutes from Vorovoro by boat.
Francis is Poasa's wife and mother of five. She shares with visitors her vast knowledge of mat weaving, which is a huge part of traditional Fijian culture. She is patient and kind as she teaches others this traditional art. Francis' heart and smile are bigger than life itself and it is a pure joy to learn to weave mats from the master herself!
Api has been on and in the sea his entire life. Like many Fijian men, from a young age, he’s been responsible for providing food and income for his family through freediving and spearfishing. He feels most at home navigating the waves and currents of the open sea. Api lends an experienced hand with whatever projects are underway on the island, and can often be found keeping Fijians and visitors alike in stitches with his antics and humor.
Semisi is from Nakawaqa village, a neighboring island to Vorovoro in Mali. As head chef, he is the creator all all things delicious on the island and he loves to share and learn new recipes using fresh, local ingredients. Semisi is also singer, conductor, and bandsman extraordinaire and has been said to have the voice of an angel!
Clare went to Vorovoro as a student in 2017. Among many things, the Vorovoro family taught Clare the importance of family, humility, and positivity. Since returning from Vorovoro, Clare is much more aware of how she has the ability to leave a positive impact on the world around her through her day-to-day actions. Clare assists with fundraising and program development, and is counting down the days until she returns to Vorovoro!
Raijeli is Poasa and Francis' daughter and is a mother of one young boy. Her role with BTG is island program support. She always lends a hand wherever needed and can often be found helping her sister Wati with work behind the scenes. She also cooks and nannies on the island!
Sibley first visited Vorovoro in May 2017 through Auburn University’s study abroad program. Vorovoro provided her the opportunity to realize the important things in life—togetherness, communication, love, family, and so much more. Sibley not only gained a greater appreciation and passion for protecting natural resources from climate change, she gained a family and a home. Since joining the team recently as a BTG intern, she has been assisting with marketing. She can't wait to be back!
Jim is a mischievous ’n’ talented graphic designer born in London who spent 2 years on Vorovoro, falling in love with the culture and island vibes. He published a book called The Hammock Society, chronicling his adventures in paradise through a series of compelling interviews with local Fijians. Back in London, when Jim isn’t daydreaming about treehouses and hammocks, he’s busy creating top-notch presentations for some of the world’s most famous brands.
Chuck’s better half is blessed with good observation skills and practical common sense. Despite also wanting to do everything and loving to research new ideas, she comprehends what is doable and moderates Chuck’s enthusiasm. She ensures that priorities are not overlooked. She is a wonderful cook that can make meals up out of nothing without a recipe. She is dependable and does most of the harvesting for the kitchen. Susie is an “I can make do” person and makes few demands.
Chuck loves the farm life as long as it offers challenge. He’s a bit addicted to farm grown coffee, afternoon siestas, lists on the blackboard and spreadsheets. He loves working with his hands outdoors, especially building things. He tries to put into practice what Susie learns off the net. His gift is in explaining things in a way that people can understand. His interests are in permaculture and appropriate technologies.
The first adopted, last to arise in the morning, related to most of Fiji; Tia, is a shy extrovert. Blessed with a beautiful voice and musical talent, she is full of fun and laughter. She loves people and is always up for jamming and conversation. Not taking life too seriously, she savors every drop of life and then out of the blue she drops the most profound thoughts. Like her mother, she misses nothing. Talented in massage Therapy, she can also dress a chicken in minutes.
Handsome (with carefully managed hair), Josh is the son-in-law to the McCays. Like Tia, he is musical but has a quiet sense of humor, is immensely patient, unassuming and intelligent. As Chuck’s right hand man, he does what needs to done and is being groomed up to take over one day. He is great at beekeeping and loves to explain it all to anyone interested. He also enjoys a great rapport with Mitchell and is always down for a game of soccer or volleyball.
Beloved son of the McCays, Mitchie may not speak in words but is very vocal and normally very happy and undemanding. He is unusually affectionate, good natured well behaved. He is tremendously strong and loves being outdoors with nature. Skilled in breaking sticks, he has a deep interest in anything that reverberates. He also loves to swim!
Haley visited Vorovoro during the summer of 2018 through Auburn University’s study abroad program. Her time in Vorovoro showed her the power of unconditional love and togetherness in a community. Additionally, she learned the importance of conserving and sustaining resources. After returning to the states, Haley has worked to apply the things she learned in Vorovoro to her everyday life. Haley recently joined the BTG team as an intern and is so excited to return to Vorovoro!
Laura first visited Vorovoro during her study abroad through Auburn University in 2018. Her experience on the island with Tui Mali and the tribe allowed her to expand and apply her education relating to Global Studies beyond the classroom. Laura recently joined the BTG team as an Intern to assist with recruitment, marketing, and fundraising. She will return to Vorovoro in 2019 to help lead study abroad students.
Our work begins and ends with relationships
We strive to work with organizations that align with our mission to meet community development goals while maintaining the integrity of the tribe's heritage, island traditions, and the natural environment
Vorovoro Cultural Center
The heart of Vorovoro Island!
We are proud to partner exclusively with the Mali people to help share their traditional lifestyle through experiential learning. We work "hand in hand" with the Vorovoro Cultural Centre to provide visitor's a travel experience that ensures understanding, solidarity, and authenticity.
Baleinayaca Family Farm
Harvest sugarcane with Nemani
Our Team Leader Nemani Baleinayaca is the lead man at his family's sugar cane farm. Nemani loves to share his passion for farming with visitors. With the new housing, kitchen, and toilets recently constructed, Nemani and his family now welcome visitors to come stay and learn on their land.
A sustainable working farm in the heart of Fiji
Island visitors can take an excursion to Cegu Valley Farm, located just 30 minutes inland. Owned and operated by the McCay family, the farm is a thriving example of sustainable farming practices. The McCay’s are passionate about sustainable farming, permaculture, beekeeping, animal husbandry and more. Every inch of their little piece of heaven has been built and designed by their own hands and sweat. You will be humbled and amazed at what can be done simply with the land around you. The McCay's love to host guests for a day, a night, or even for an extended internship
Facing the effects of climate change
Mali Island is experiencing direct impact from the changing climate. Rising sea levels have had devastating effects on their limited ground water supply. Alongside Auburn University, BTG assisted the Mali community in applying for a partnership with Engineers Without Borders (EWB)to help address these issues. EWB's first assessment trip is scheduled for 2018.
Learn from a local
Get PADI certified off of Vorovoro's shore! Cakaulevu Reef is the 3rd longest reef in the world and is 95% unexplored. Your instructor Leone Vokai grew up free diving this reef and knows it like most of us know our own backyards. He is passionate about reef health and conservation, educating his village community in how to protect their greatest resource. He leads by example, and believes we each have a responsibility to help preserve the reef for future generations.
Exemplifying the power of education
WWF has worked with the Mali people for many years in an effort to combat issues of poaching and overfishing by encouraging Mali community members to adapt their fishing practices and diversify their income. A WWF representative visits Vorovoro Island to share his work with visitors and help them understand how they can help bring about change.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Auburn!
Under the direction of Kate Thornton, Auburn has sponsored eyeglass kits with training workshops, provided supplies for the local school, sponsored the construction of the Vorovoro Cultural Centre, provided internships for Fijian team members at Cegu Valley Farm, and most recently, sponsored the construction of homestay lodging at Nemani's sugarcane farm. Thanks to AU's partnership and generosity, the people of Mali are better equipped to reach the goals they have for their community.