from Fiji Post 19th October - (my comments after the article)
Survivor blessings for Vunivutu19-Oct-2006
THE arrival of Crab Bay Limited, and its production crew for the shooting of the most watched worldwide television series Survivor, in Vunivutu village in Macuata has not only brought economical benefits for the village but has also changed the attitude and life style of the villagers.
Located about ten miles from Labasa town, Vunivutu villagers could now call themselves lucky as the first village to be part of Government’s Look North Policy.
And with Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) land leases expiring at the end of December Vunivutu villagers are already counting their lucky stars.
Not only have they been able to be given employment for the next two months they have also been able to adapt to a life style that is much more different in all aspects of life. A little over 150 Vunivutu villagers have been given job opportunities including their Indian brothers and sisters living in the vicinity of Vunivutu.
For the villagers waking up at 4am is usually for those leaving the village for Labasa town but for those left behind waking up is always around 7am and some to the extent of waking up at 10am when kava drinking the night before is something to be challenged.
That life style is no longer to be seen for the past month, as the 150 villagers have been employed by Crab Bay Limited. Work starts at 6am, and not merely lazing and chatting around for hours before the actual work is done. As Vunivutu villagers put it, it starts with a bang and no time is wasted on chatting or unnecessary walkabout and having things done at a later time.
"You don't waste time on joking only when its your lunch time and it is always work, work, work, and for us time is very important in getting things done on time," they said.
For some of the villagers working with the production crew is their first time to be employed, and the feeling for them is very different. "It is very different because in the village we have our own time to do things and here we have to work according to rules and regulations," they said.
Vunivutu village chief Tui Sawana, Ratu Lausere Vakadrigi Tugi, said many of them were first-timers in getting employed, and for the first week was very difficult for them to adapt to the life style.
"You know village life, everything is up to you at your own time, and it's funny when they come back from work the first week, and they can't get over the fact they have been able to adapt to working for 10 hours a day," said Ratu Lausere.
He described how men have no time at all to attend to their food gardens because they have been bogged down with work at the base camp.
Villagers were not at all hesitant when asked how much they were being paid an hour.
For 22-year-old Semaema Savou money she received as wages for the past few weeks has been very good. "For us we have been paid $5 an hour and we work ten hours a day and our Fiji National Provident Fund is being deducted and our insurance is also paid," she said. "That is apart from working on a public holiday where we are being paid double time and also working on a Sunday."
So basically, an employee would be receiving about $400 per week as wages that is if the employee also worked on a Sunday. So at the end of the three months an employee would have earned and walked away with $4,800. Not bad and too good to be true especially for only three months.
At the official launching of the shooting of the Survivor series, the ladies served food and drinks to guests at the cocktail.
Their dressing was different, their smiles and laughter showed that they enjoyed every minute of it, and their attitude spoke volumes of how they have been able to adapt very quickly.
"For me I really don't know how to speak fluent English, except for the more common and familiar words like yes, no, come and go, but to actually converse with some members of the production crew, it always a challenge for me in the first week," said one villager who wished to remain anonymous.
"Sometimes I don't understand what they are saying and every time they speak it takes longer for me to understand, but now I'm getting used to the way they speak, but it's just that they speak too fast."
Today the villagers have gotten used to waking up early.
For many who spoke to Fiji Daily Post, being employed by Crab Bay Limited is the blessing from above.
During the traditional presentation of the official launch of shooting of the Survivor series, a Vunivutu villager said villagers never at any time had complained nor have they ever raised their concerns to Government on any development in the village let alone the district.
Keimami kila ni sa qai kena gauna dina ga qo, keimami sega vakadua ni se bau vosataka na matanitu, baleta ni keimami kila ni tiko dina ga na gauna ni kalou vei keimami, (We now know that this is the time that God has prepared for us, as we have been patient and have never spoken out against the Government) were the words of presentation to government and invited guests.
To date Vunivutu villagers are now reaping the fruits of their silence, and they are enjoying every minute of it. What we have here today in the village is the fruits of our forefathers' prayers and the blessing from above is never to be omitted," they said.
"Government should also be thanked for their tremendous effort in identifying our village as the perfect location."
Tui Sawana said that without the relevant government departments' assistance they would not have been able to have the shooting of the Survivor series in Walana a coast off Vunivutu village.
So they are getting $5 an hour which is okay by Fiji labouring wages, and wkith overtime, they are doing okay.
I won't say much about their frame of reference about God's blessing because life is a bit more complicated actually.
I don't think it's the first move for the Look North policy but it would be interesting to know how the Survivor producers actually came up with Vunivutu and the Wainikoro River area as there are hundreds of outstanding locations in Fiji. At least the North has got some attention because the west of Viti Levu gets more than its share of the goodies from tourism, etc.