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FIJI’S INSPIRING FEMALES: 5 Women Sharing Their Bula Spirit & Making A Difference

It's almost International Women's day (8 March) and we're celebrating women all around the world who are paving a path for future generations of females, including those in the country where "happiness finds you", the 333-island nation of Fiji.

It’s almost International Women’s day (8 March) and we’re celebrating women all around the world who are paving a path for future generations of females, including those in the country where “happiness finds you”, the 333-island nation of Fiji.

Rich with happiness and full of inspiration, these leading ladies of Fiji are sharing their Bula spirit through their passions and re-defining the level of success women can achieve all over the world.

READ: BULANAIRES: Tourism Fiji Wants YOU To Be Rich In Happiness

READ: AGENT BULANAIRES: Win A Fiji Famil Spot & Feel True Happiness!

“Energy is felt by those around us and smiles can be infectious, so being a person who smiles and possesses a happy and positive disposition can be a real gift to someone else,”

Professor Lea Waters

Here are 5 of Fiji’s inspiring women who are making the country an even happier place to be.


1. Dawn Simpson-Resort Manager of Dolphin Island

Fiji Women

Dawn Simpson

One of Tourism Fiji’s inaugural Bulanaires, Dawn Simpson’s charm, warmth and hospitality is what has made her stand out in the Tourism Industry.

As Dolphin Island’s Resort Manager, she makes every single guest’s experience uniquely memorable and goes the extra mile in providing excellent customer service. Many returnee guests don’t just come back to Dolphin Island for the private island, turquoise waters and exquisite cuisine – they come back to see Dawn!

If you’re a guest at Dolphin Island, don’t be surprised if you get a handwritten letter from Dawn in the mail after your visit.

Where is your favourite place in Fiji?

My favourite place in Fiji would definitely be Dolphin Island. I love working with my team to build a very real luxury ‘castaway’ paradise, where guests can enjoy the warm, generous style of hospitality that Fijians are well known for.

What inspires you most about the other women that work at Dolphin Island?

Their resilience is truly inspiring to me

What does the ‘Bula Spirit’ mean to you?



2. Malisa Raffe-Founder of Flavours of Fiji Cooking School

Fiji Women

Malisa Raffe with her team at Flavours of Fiji

Malisa believes that the best way to understand any culture is through food. With no formal culinary training, she’s paved a stellar culinary career for herself thanks to learning cooking tricks when living with her grandmother in her hometown of Savusavu.

She has created a cooking school that teaches homestyle cooking techniques and, thus, employs homestyle cooks at Flavours of Fiji Cooking School. She doesn’t believe you need a piece of paper to validate your skills, which is exactly why she hired Maria – a Fijian homestyle cook who used to be a security guard. It’s the combination of the people and the food at Flavours of Fiji that makes Malisa’s business so successful.

Where is your favourite place in Fiji?

My favourite place to be in Fiji is in the kitchen surrounded by friends & family. Its’ always organised chaos, tasks are divvied up, chatter fills the air, bursts of hysterical laughter, sounds of chopping, scraping and sizzling of spices all add to the anticipation of the feast to come!

What inspires you most about the Fijian women that work with Flavours of Fiji?

Our amazing Fijian & Indo-Fijian cooks are very warm, engaging and motherly. Their sense of pride in their speciality of homestyle cooking which extends far beyond any textbook…they have been taught the traditional way with exotic recipes passed down through generations that they get to share with visitors from around the world.

What does the ‘Bula Spirit’ mean to you?

The ‘Bula Spirit’ is all about an experience, whereby we embrace visitors and share our local culture. We share the ‘Bula Spirit’ through our food, so visitors leave the Fiji Islands with a better understanding of who we are.


3. Sachiko Soro-Director of VOU Dance Fiji

Fiji Women

Sachiko Soro and family in Nausori Highlands, Fiji

Sachiko has created an incredible platform for performing artists in Fiji, something that, until Sachiko came around, was really lacking.

Her goal with creating VOU Dance Fiji is to provide a sustainable professional career path to young Fijian artists, as well as putting Fiji on the global map for contemporary arts.

Anyone who has been to the groups’ show known as VOU Hub Fiji in Nadi will agree she has most certainly accomplished both of those goals!

Where is your favourite place in Fiji?

I spent many formative years of my life in and around Koro Island, in Lomaiviti where my family has a small resort development and plantation. It is the real Fiji, so laid back, people have time for each other., It is a place where I feel connected to the land and sea and all those around me.

What inspires you most about the Fijian women that work with Vou Dance Fiji?

The women of VOU are so inspiring, they work so passionately to give the best of themselves so that our guests can share in the energy! We hope that if we become very skilled at creative experiences it can be a way to connect and heal the world in unity and moments of exchange and mutual learning. The women who we work with in VOU have such a sense of community and dedication to the art of dance because they know of the important impact it has. We want to inspire the next generation of Fijian artists and prove to them that it can be done. Give your best and the stages of the world will be yours.

What does the ‘Bula Spirit’ mean to you?

‘Bula Spirit’ is the genuine warmth of a smile that lets someone know you are welcome and that they are happy to share time and space with you. ‘Bula Spirit’ is welcoming someone into your home to share food, it is picking up and cuddling a child and giving them big warm loving kisses. ‘Bula Spirit’ is a huge hearty laugh that lights up all those around them. ‘Bula Spirit’ is what makes Fiji unique.


4. Janet Lotawa-Co-Founder and Director of Rise Beyond the Reef

Fiji Women

Janet Lotawa

Even from a young age, Janet has felt passionate about community development work. But of all the non-profit organisations she has been a part of over the few decades, she considers co-founding Rise Beyond the Reef with her husband Semi to be the most life-changing experience.

It’s through this company that she’s been able to provide nearly 400 women in remote villages in Fiji the skills and opportunity to become income earners for their own family, while equally creating beautiful products that sustainably represent Fiji.

Where is your favourite place in Fiji?

There’s many, but usually in the mountains. My husband is from interior remote communities on both his mother’s and father’s side – so spending time in the bush in Fiji’s interior is always special.

What inspires you most about the Fijian women that work with Rise Beyond the Reef?

Their strength and ability to navigate so many factors that are really challenging.

What does the ‘Bula Spirit’ mean to you?

The Bula Spirit is the coming together for the greater good beyond the benefit to just one individual. That’s always a strong value proposition I feel Fiji offers to the rest of the world.


5. Debra Sandranu-Founder of Nama Fiji

Fiji Women

Debra Sadranu

Debra has put Fiji on the global map when it comes to creating her sustainable beauty and spa products known as Nama Fiji. Having first visited Fiji in the 1990s, she discovered that Nama (“sea grapes”) found in the Yasawa Islands could be used as a key ingredient that provides a higher level of minerals and vitamins to beauty and spa products.

She has created a sustainable Nama harvesting programme that provides income opportunities to the Fijian women who harvest the Nama in the Yasawa Islands. Nama Fiji is the preferred supplier at many luxury spas in Fiji and directly supports the women living in remote regions of the country.

Where is your favourite place in Fiji?

I am very passionate about the Yasawa Islands. This is the region where my son hails from through his father’s roots. His dad passed away 6 years ago but we both carry on the legacy of looking after the people of that region.

What inspires you most about the Fijian women that work with at Nama Fiji?

The women are very hard working and have incredible family values that are both inspiring and admirable. They are so grateful for our business partnership and appreciate the opportunity to supply this incredible resource they have for sustaining their livelihood. The spend up to 8 hours a day hand harvesting Nama as a means to support their families.

What does the ‘Bula Spirit’ mean to you?

The ‘Bula Spirit’ is contagious, the people smile and laugh from deep within, they welcome people with open arms, they have so little but give so much.


Experiencing the ‘Bula Spirit’ that Fiji’s leading ladies are so proud of is easy, with direct flights on both Air New Zealand and Fiji Airways out of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

Click here for more information.