It’s not everyday that we get to share news this big!
In late November, Tui Mali, Chief of Vorovoro and the Mali Islands, was awarded the Order of Fiji. The Order of Fiji is the highest honor of the Fijian honors system. The order is presented for achievement and merit to Fiji and mankind as a whole. The order is awarded to those who make a positive impact on the nation of Fiji and there is no man more worthy of this honor than Tui Mali.
Through his exemplary leadership in the Fijian community and Vorovoro’s long standing partnership with Bridge the Gap, Tui Mali has enriched the lives of Fijians and foreign visitors alike through programs that celebrate native Fijian identity, culture, and heritage. The Vorovoro Cultural Centre (VCC) provides life changing immersive experiences that are not available anywhere else in Fiji. The VCC offers authentic alternatives to traditional tourism, and proves that living and learning together is really the best way to see and experience Fiji.
Tui Mali, through words and actions, inspires people from all around the globe. BTG’s director Jenny Cahill recently reflected: “I consider him to be my greatest teacher and mentor. Over the last 10 years, he has taught me the benefit of leading by example, speaking less than you listen, and the benefit of allowing things to unfold in their own time. He cares deeply, listens deeply, and holds strong to what he feels is right when it is necessary. He embodies the Fijian attributes of respect, humility, and care for others above self.” Zach Thornton of Auburn, AL summed it up well by simply saying “the world is a better place because of [Tui Mali]”.
Following the award ceremony, Tui Mali’s family welcomed him home to Vorovoro with a grand feast in recognition of his achievements. The family prepared a “lovo”, which is a traditional underground oven in which fish, chicken, pork and vegetables are cooked.
Today, and everyday, we are grateful for Tui Mali and his visionary leadership and desire to create ways where people can visit Fiji and experience what it really means when “1 + 1 = 1”.