Finding the Little Girl from Fiji
My husband, Jerry, and I honeymooned at WorldMark Fiji in 2005. During our two-week stay at the resort we took many trips to Nadi. We enjoyed riding the Westbus that winded through the charming villages on the way to town. Our most amazing story began with one of those Westbus rides on what became an especially memorable morning.
As the bus was making its way through the villages on route to the city of Nadi, this beautiful little girl of about 4 years old sat down beside Jerry with her grandmother. She caught our eye because of her innocence, curly hair and how young she was.
Jerry looked at her big brown eyes and decided immediately that she should be a retained honeymoon-trip memory in a photo. So, he asked permission to take the little one's picture.
We returned home, but Fiji never left our hearts. We always talked about the little girl that we had taken a photo of. Four years after the trip, Jerry took drawing classes at the local college. For one of his projects, he chose to draw the little girl's image as an art exercise. The final black and white drawing was framed and submitted to an art gallery for exhibit. After the show was over, that portrait was displayed on our wall at home.
Two years after sketching that final picture, Jerry and I traveled back to Fiji. Inside the travel case he clutched, he'd brought along one of his original drawings. It was six years from the time he'd snapped a picture of the beautiful child. We wondered if we would recognize her if we found her.
Two days after our arrival at the WorldMark resort, Jerry asked Lorima, a guest services associate and native Fijian, if he could help us. That day, Lorima started the process of checking the local villages with only a photo of Jerry's drawing taken with his phone. On the third day of his search, Lorima found the girl's mother and set up a meeting at her school near Nadi. We were so excited that we hardly slept the night before the meeting.
We visited with the child's mother, Nai and she introduced us to Bulou, who was now 10 years old and much taller than the picture Jerry drew of her at 4. However, Bulou's eyes, eyebrows, nose and that gorgeous smile were unmistakably her!
Bulou is smiley; she speaks perfect English, along with Fijian, and her eyes glisten, her teeth shine, her hair is black and curly. She is gorgeous! A lot of questions were answered, and more pictures were taken. There were smiles and tears of joy for all of us.
We began the beautiful process of sharing a special relationship with Bulou's Fijian family — one that will not be limited by 6,000 miles. We believe nothing is impossible. Special moments and lasting relationships can be found in a photo. Our experience proves it.
Jerry says, "Our lives will not be the same again. I am satisfied with the results of my dream of finding 'the little girl from Fiji.' We found more that day, too. We found out how warm and friendly, helpful and caring, inviting and beautiful the Fijian people are. We found new friendships and caring staff at WorldMark Fiji. My wife and I plan to return to Fiji as soon as we can, and continue to build lasting relationships with Fijian families and new friends."
Jerry & Terese Orban
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