Less Is More – So Poor Yet So Happy – A Fijian Village

Less is more – so poor, yet so happy

The weekend has arrived on Savusavu island, and it is time to explore the unknown, so we hired a little 4WD vehicle where we learn a valuable lesson about how locals can be so poor yet so happy. 

4WD in Fiji
©Exploramum and Explorason – hiring a 4WD

We hope to find a beach in a little town, have a swim and a picnic, and maybe find some kids for my son to play with.

Fijian road
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian road upgrade

Little did we realize that the Chinese are making ‘real’ roads, and the terrain is meant for a rugged 4WD than the little beast we have hired. Wish we got some advice from luxury travel experts around the island before hiring a car. This was however never going to ruin our family travel even when we found we were limited. We have always taken challenges such as these during our single parent travel and turned them into memorable moments.

outdoor over
©Exploramum and Explorason – outdoor oven

 

It takes us 2 hours to drive 40 km, over a ‘kidney-shaking’ terrain, and bridges with no sides. The houses we spot along the way are humble dwellings. As I drive, I start to notice the change in the people who walk along the way.

collecting banana leaves
©Exploramum and Explorason – collecting banana leaves

My eyes are opened, and so is my heart. I start to notice the poor – the clothes that are dirty and torn, and the lack of footwear – I see they are so poor yet so happy.

kids work
©Exploramum and Explorason – even kids work

Men and boys walking everywhere – cane knife in hand; as they seek to find food.

Fijian man
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian man

We get lost – really lost, and stop to ask where we can find a beach. These lovely ladies help us and again we see that they are so poor yet so happy. Notice the one minimal shoe only worn; and the old kids top, that is tied to form sun protection. There is no house in sight – they have a long walk on this hot and rocky road.

Fijian ladies
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian ladies

We head down a bumpy, muddy dirt track that a friendly man tells us will lead us to some kids, and a beach of Tacilevu. Why are these people so poor yet so happy?

machette
©Exploramum and Explorason – the man with a machete

The track ends, and children greet us excitedly.  It is a sea of children running excitedly towards us.

village life
©Exploramum and Explorason – we arrive at the village

This is a village with hundreds of children.  They seem to dart out of the houses as we enter the village.

Fijian home
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian home

Yet they do not have any electrical connection.  So how do they live like this?

They have not one car between them that I can see – they walk and they carry all. They have no Wii games to occupy their time.

local child
©Exploramum and Explorason – local child

There are no beach toys, or buckets and spades to play in the sand with. But the kids just seem to exude joy and laughter.

Fijian kids
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian kids

There are no designer kids clothes – yet the girls are so beautiful!  Just look at the girl below who is so poor yet so happy.

Fijian girl
©Exploramum and Explorason – gorgeous Fijian girl

There are no swimsuits….yet she looks like a model to me as she sits on the beach.

Fijian teenager
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian teenager

These girls have no mall to hang out with their friends this afternoon; they are ‘besties’ anyway. They pose using a scarf and a curtain.  It’s fun!

Fijian girls
©Exploramum and Explorason – girls having fun

There is no playground – only a tree to climb.  One older boy isn’t so pleased, but the rest seem happy enough.  We later learn his dad wants him to go work with the pigs.

Fijian
©Exploramum and Explorason – tree swing

They have no climbing bar, just branches. These kids are having fun – so poor yet so happy hanging out in nature.  I think the western world has it wrong.

Fijian kids
©Exploramum and Explorason – kids playing

There are no swings. (Note – the girl below – her dress is a man’s singlet and she has one shoe, and yet she is so happy and gorgeous).

Fijian girl
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian girl

And there are no balancing poles – so they use a coconut tree trunk and bamboo as they cross the water.  Explorason is having fun too.

bridge
©Exploramum and Explorason – bamboo bridge

There is not one bike between them – these are the wheels they share as they play – so poor yet so happy! The squeals of delight are infectious!

tires
©Exploramum and Explorason – tire game

They have no branded sporting equipment. This game is a plank of wood and the inside remains of what looks like a half-eaten rubber.

poor child
©Exploramum and Explorason – poor child

This boy is sick. He has no building blocks, so he plays with wood bits in the dirt.

no toys
©Exploramum and Explorason – no toys

This little girl has no cubby house; she is happy in an old boat.  She is adorable.  I wish I’d had a better camera to capture the smiles of these little angels.

girl in boat
©Exploramum and Explorason – local girl in the boat

My son joins in happily, as they play “knock ‘em down” with old food tins.

kids playing
©Exploramum and Explorason – knock ’em down game
And they play a kind of ball game too.  They dash around between the washing and the houses. Everything is quite neat.
washing
©Exploramum and Explorason – clean village

There is not a real toy anywhere.  More tires form another game near the beach.

tires
©Exploramum and Explorason – tire game

With one shoe, a toddler works to keep herself busy.
She has the most gorgeous big eyes.  I’m impressed at the cleanliness of the village.

girl raking
©Exploramum and Explorason – kids helping

Small children sit with no blocks to play with – they only have an old tin and a bit of wood.  Often they have one or no shoes.  But the clothes are neat and clean.

toddlers play
©Exploramum and Explorason – toddlers play

The pig farmers stop me and ask if I can take their photograph. His child is barefoot, and his t-shirt is all ripped behind. The other man has a hole in the back of his boot.  It’s a bit smelly with the pigs around here so we move on.

pig farmer
©Exploramum and Explorason – pig farmers

This man has very few teeth as he is perched on the window ledge.

old man
©Exploramum and Explorason – old man

He has no window, only a rusty tin house. My heart starts to break as I look at the little he has – so poor yet so happy. But he has a smile that lights up his face. They have no flashy homes.  It must get dark inside when the sun goes down!

home
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian village home

There are no expensive speedboats to go and catch their fish.  they use kayaks often made from trees.

corrigated iron
©Exploramum and Explorason – tin home

These people are mainly farmers, and a self-supporting village, where all share everything they are given. The wages – if you are lucky enough to have a job – are $1 AU / US an hour. Usually about $5 a day. Can you believe that?

wheelchair
©Exploramum and Explorason – manmade wheelchair

There is only one nurse that visits the village. No doctor. Look at this home-made wheelchair.

Most clothes in this country are secondhand. The Indians run used clothing stores in the big towns, and sell clothes that look like the rejected stuff.

kids play on the beach
©Exploramum and Explorason – playing on the beach

It comes from the rejected items from Australian thrift shops. You would be shocked – a stained top is about $12 FJ ($6.50 AU) – that is 3 hours wages. So look at their clothes. Most are what we would use as rags. They do not match.

Yet think of all the clothes you or your family have, and think of how many you really wear, and need.

Today, I ask you to look at all you have, your lovely home, and to appreciate what you have got. And to think about what you really have that gives you real joy.

father and daughter
©Exploramum and Explorason – father and daughter

Look out of YOUR window right now at what is around YOU and what do YOU see?  Are YOU happy?  With all YOU own, does it bring YOUR family joy?

where you live
©Exploramum and Explorason – are you happy with all you own?

Can you help us help them?

If you would like to help, we have found a second-hand shop in town where we can do a deal on bulk clothes for about $2.50 – $3 AU / US a piece.

We will need to hire a car for about $100 AU for the day, including the fuel, and we hope to fill the car with food, clothes, and shoes, and share with them. But we need many to help us. If you would like to be part of this venture, you can donate at the top of the page, or by Paypal to exploramum@gmail.com.

Even $5 or $10 makes a difference. It would be great if we could raise $500 or $1000, but we need to do it while we are here, in the next week or so.

Together we can make a small change in these little lives.

So I am asking if you can help us with this ‘random act of kindness’?
If you could just buy that boy some shoes as he walks along the rocky road?
Or that dear lady – another flip-flop thong?
Or that pretty girl – a new dress?
Or these boys a new pair of shorts?

It would mean so much.

kids
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian kids

I am so proud of my seven-year-old son. He has changed so much in a few short weeks. He is not racist. He shares all he has. He is not selfish. He now gives all he does not need. And he is content, and happy.

kindness
©Exploramum and Explorason – random acts of kindness

Today – my heart was opened to the REAL needs of the world. I realize that we are no longer just on a holiday, or on a world adventure but we are also on a quest to help the needy.

Questions and Comments

  • How do you define wealth?
  • What things bring you joy and contentment in your heart?
  • Please share your comments with us.
kids
©Exploramum and Explorason – Explorason and a Fijian girl

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