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The TUTU Training Centre, run by Marist Missionaries on Taveuni Island in Fiji has had a very positive impact on the local economy and culture since it started over 30 years ago. The Marist Fathers have worked in the Pacific for over 150 years and initiated this project 30 years ago in response to the social, political, economic and cultural needs of the people in the rapidly changing world of the Pacific Islands. Father Michael McVerry from New Zealand has guided the TUTU Centre over those years.

The thrust of this project is to find a way to open the door to the future for unemployed young people through non-formal adult education leading to non-formal employment through use of the resources available to them. Although there are now relatively good opportunities for formal education the opportunity for formal employment is extremely limited. So the emphasis is on using their own land and sea resources for self-employment and income generating projects. The attitudinal changes called for to enable this to happen are major, so there is a heavy emphasis on human development that builds their self-respect and confidence to take their lives and future into their own hands.

Taveuni Island enjoys a beautiful natural environment virtually unspoilt by the modern world. Clean streams and waterfalls run across a green paradise of jungle vegetation, inhabited by gentle-natured Fijian people who enjoy a simple and quiet pace of life. Taveuni is fortunate in having extremely fertile volcanic soils where crops grow easily. One of the main cash crops of the region is yagona, a small bush which is harvested after 4 years, dried, and ground up. The powder is drunk as a mild and legal and non-intoxicating drink known as kava, which is popular through the South Pacific. Kava commands a very good price and is well worth the effort of planting in large numbers. The other cash crop and staple food is taro known on Taveuni as dalo. Taro is a root vegetable and basic staple of the Fijian diet. It is also fetches a good price in the market.

The courses at TUTU encourage young farmers to develop their own plantations, sell their crops, build themselves a house and invest in their future. To begin with the young farmers are required to plant a certain number of yagona on their own land and then are accepted into TUTU where they use the land of the Training Centre to learn management and other related human and technical skills, including furniture-making, saw-milling, use of fertilizers and sprays, banking, budgeting and planning.

Similarly there are courses for young single women that include home economics, sewing, baking, making traditional and modern handicrafts and other marketable products. The young women sell cakes, clothing and other marketable items made at TUTU. The proceeds are used to buy sewing machines to help them become self-reliant. Their parents are also offered courses in order to help them appreciate and connect with what their adult children have learned. Married couples attend Marriage Encounter courses to improve their relationships, and also learn skills in child rearing, natural family planning, vegetable growing, and skills for income generation. TUTU has had a huge impact on Taveuni and other adjacent islands.

- Sean Sprague, Photographer

Taveuni Island
#07fj139, FIJI Father Michael Mcverry,  Taveuni

07fj139 - FIJI Father Michael Mcverry, Taveuni

#07fj071, FIJI Elena Siteri,  22,  and Paulini Mateyawa of Qeleni village,  at Tavoro waterfall,  Taveuni

07fj071 - FIJI Elena Siteri, 22, and Paulini Mateyawa of Qeleni village, at Tavoro waterfall, Taveuni


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#07fj107, FIJI Small shop,  Qelena village,  Taveuni

07fj107 - FIJI Small shop, Qelena village, Taveuni

#07fj138, Taro (dalo) plants,  Taveuni , Fiji.

07fj138 - Taro (dalo) plants, Taveuni , Fiji.

#4053, Statue of Christ at open-air mass, Tequisquiapan, Queretaro, Mexico.

4053 - Statue of Christ at open-air mass, Tequisquiapan, Queretaro, Mexico.

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