Updated: May 20, 2020
Written by Natalie Jaroch, 2019 Auburn University Study Abroad Student
Nemani is a valued member of our Fijian Team, and has been helping to host groups on Vorovoro since 2007. He mentors new Fijian team members and also develops and facilitates cultural programming for visitors. His commitment to his Fijian heritage combined with his work ethic and desire to learn have led him to be the dynamic leader he is today. BTG and Vorovoro work together to support the business dreams of the Fijian Team members and family who work with us on Vorovoro Island.
Nemani Lala Baleinayaca’s family farm, known as Bread of Life Farm, is not a typical family farm. It’s a symbol of community, togetherness and hard work.
Nemani welcomed Auburn University's study abroad group this past summer (2019) with open arms and a big smile. He was eager to take the students on a walk through the sugar cane field and show them the beauty of Fijian farm land. Nemani mentioned he spends the majority of his summer days harvesting his land’s sugar cane. Harvesting sugar cane is a very laborious job, especially in the hot Fijian sun.
Throughout the four days spent on the farm, Nemani and his family truly took every student in as their own. Students learned how to harvest and plant cassava, a Fijian staple equivalent to a yam. They also spent down time drinking kava, singing, and playing with the many little kids that Nemani has in his extended family.
A project that Nemani has been working on was getting fresh running water to the farm. Students helped dig a well in hopes of hitting water, which they did. The government came while the students were on the farm to evaluate the water accessibility and where the tanks would be placed. Seeing one of Nemani’s dreams come to life while on the farm truly opened the student’s eyes to the purpose and importance of the farm in Nemani’s life.
If there is a person that embodies hard work, passion, and determination it is Nemani. Buying the land for his family and transforming it into a place of community and gathering is one of the reasons Nemani named his land “Bread of Life Farm”. He wants his land to be a place of life and love for everyone that gathers or travels there. It also is a symbol of hard work, as Nemani has built every structure on the farm by hand including his house and compost toilet. This land is so much more than a sugar cane farm. This land is a perfect example of what it means to be part of a Fijian family and the hard work Fijians are willing to put in, day in and day out, to support their family and their dreams.