My name is Scott Balson. I was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika, East Africa, and grew up with my African friends.
Fijians believe that their descendants originated from Tanganyika and, for someone who knows, I could see the remarkable similarity between the people who lived thousands of miles apart. The rest is now history.
I first went to Fiji in 2002 - and during this trip met the chief of the village of Namuamua - through this meeting village homestays were born.
Image right: The Ocean Road Hospital in Dar-es-Salaam built by the Germans in 1897 - where Scott Balson was born.
I was invited back to Namuamua in March the following year - and after several delightful days as the guest of Tomasi Vokula the question was asked by him while we sat around the kava bowl whether I could organise to get more guests to the village as the money they brought could help this cash starved economy.
Image right: Tomasi Vokula on the water taxi to Namuamua
The rest is history.
Sadly Tomasi Vokula passed away in late November 2006.
The money you pay to the villagers for accommodation and activities is shared by your hosts with the village. That is why you are so welcome in the village - the villagers know the important role that you are playing in helping them by just being there..
We have villages now lining up to be included - and why wouldn't they? We are currently discussing setting up Internet kiosks in participating villages so that tourists can send emails and A grade students in the village can tap into the Internet. We are discussing major upgrades of their showers and toilets (including hot water) with the Ministry of Tourism in Fiji - something that will only happen if YOU get behind this project. We have recently released a Fijian Music CD featuring the wonderful bands and choirs of participating villages.
We are also sponsoring projects like the "Tidy Village Competition" to educate villagers on environmental issues.
Before a village is included we spend time with the hosts and ensure that minimum standards are met. Cleanliness is the overriding issue - even if their are only cold showers and outside toilets, believe me, the positive experience of being part of this ancient culture, based on the family and extended clan, will live with you forever - long after the lack of some western luxuries are forgotten....
Since that meeting around the kava bowl several thousand guests have enjoyed the unique hospitality of our many Fijian hosts spread across Fiji.
Please take the link below and discover why we, and so many who have followed us, have fallen in love with the people of Fiji.