Lifestyle

Photographer’s Quest To Find Fijian Child From 1984

“But a couple of things are still on my mind, even 36 years later. There was a little girl who played with a tyre in a field, and her face is still engrained in my brain. I wonder whatever happened to her. What does she do today?"
14 Sep 2020 12:51
Photographer’s Quest To Find Fijian Child From 1984
The little girl playing with a tyre out in the field back in 1984. Photo: Paul Lawrence

An award-winning Canadian photographer, Paul Lawrence, fell in love with Fiji when he set foot here in 1984.

He took photographs of our countryside, including on of a little girl playing with a tyre out in a field.

Thirty-six years later, Mr Lawrence has reached out and wants to know what happened to the little girl.

Here is his request for assistance:

“First of all, I fell in love with your country, and even more so, with the Fijian people!

“In 1971, when I was 10, I had a student in my class who had parents that got transferred to Toronto, Canada for their vocations. They were from Australia. One day when I was at his house after school, he shared some stories and photographs with me.

“Immediately, I promised myself that I would one day have to visit Australia. I didn’t know how, nor did I know when, but I was going.

“In 1984, four months after graduating with a BA in Photographic Arts from Ryerson, I decided it was now, and I had made enough money from my photography business that I had started in 1981 while in university.  Who is Paul Lawrence?.

“I decided on a five-month tour of the South Pacific, and met with my travel agent. She insisted that I visit Fiji. She absolutely insisted that I visit Fiji, and that I take an island cruise on a small cruise line, called Safarer Cruises.

Fiji in 1984. Photo: Paul Lawrence

Fiji in 1984. Photo: Paul Lawrence

“In total, I was in Fiji for seven or eight days. The moment that I landed and took the one hour, windowless school bus ride to my cove destination, I was in love.

“The smiling people, the beauty of your country, and the sense of ‘welcome’ embraced me in a way that I had never felt before, and have never felt since.

“Before arriving in Fiji, I knew nothing at all about this hidden paradise. (This was long before all of the big hotels moved in). I think that there was only one island resort. I had the most amazing experience on the Safarer, but my favourite part of my stay there was wondering the roads, and hills of your countryside.

“Meeting the farming families, the families who lived in huts, and the warmth of the smiling faces that greeted me almost everywhere that I went. I have many of those photos in my portfolio to this day.

Rural Fiji in 1984. Photo: Paul Lawrence

Rural Fiji in 1984. Photo: Paul Lawrence

“But a couple of things are still on my mind, even 36 years later. There was a little girl who played with a tyre in a field, and her face is still engrained in my brain. I wonder whatever happened to her. What does she do today?

“That is why I decided to reach out to you. I know it is a long shot, but just maybe…..

“The love of your country and your people is permanently engraved in my head, and in my heart. I have been fortunate to travel many parts of the globe, both for my business and with my wife on our vacations.

“Whenever someone asks me, ‘where is your favourite place to visit, and that you would like to go back to?’ Always, and without hesitation, I tell them Fiji. Go there, stay as long as you can, walk the countryside, and take a cruise. I have snorkeled everywhere that I could (including the Great Barrier Reef), but the clearest waters, with the cleanest, and clearest blue waters was by far in Fiji.

“Unfortunately, I have not been able to get back there yet, but it is still No. 1 on my bucket list with my wife. Maybe one day….”

If you know who this little girl is, do let us know.

Feedback: jennis.naidu@fijisun.com.fj

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