The SMA Fiji Scholarship Fund by Paula Smith

The SMA’s scholarship program began when the family of  Steve Baser, an SMA member and Tavarua conference attendee who had past away, wanted a way to keep Steve’s memory alive. .  The family knew of Steve’s love for Tavarua and the Fijian children and thought that a scholarship fund for these children would be a great way to memorialize him.

The initial idea for the fund was to assist children to continue their education through high school because at that time many Fijian children dropped out of school after primary schooling.  After primary, students began to incur incidental expenses which most families could not absorb. Our early funding assisted many students who were then able to attain their goal of completing high school.  A high school education opened up many opportunites for these village children.  Among these early recipients is Brian Ravouvou who went on to nursing school and has now been a nurse in Fiji for many years.  Another is Stitveni Vou who, with his high school completion was able to go to through training to become a police officer.  Sitiveni is the son of Eloni, a longtime staff member of Tavarua.   Another is Save Nageli who is currently on the Tavarua staff.  Seremaia Driu is a recent recipient who completed high school last year and is now working in Fiji for a while but still plans to further his education.  We also helped out the  primary school of Merewita (Nono) Waqa by buying the much needed textbooks for her school.  Nono is the daughter of Waqa, one of Tavarua’s longest working staff members.

After a while some students came to us with a desire to further their education beyond high school.  This was such an amazing  desire for village kids – how could we refuse?  We decided to extend our funding to university students though it would be more costly to fund.  We then put more focus on fundraising, including adding a small add-on to Tavarua conference fees which would go directly to the scholarship fund.  We had a few students drop out of university after a year or two so we came up with the plan to pay for half of a students’ expenses, requiring the students’ families to come up with the other half. We figured that the family’s effort to come up with half would be a big incentive to the students to work hard and complete their studies, to not  waste their families’ hard earned money.  We then helped to fund many  students for some college years or for specific college programs or courses.  The biggest stoke for us has been the educational success of Sirlei Masi, son of Ruve who is on the cleaning staff on Tavarua and a single mom.  Sireli graduated from high school, wanted to go on to university, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture, and is now in Japan working on his Masters Degree!  This is a huge accomplishment for a village boy.


Here are letters from a couple of our students:


“Bula SMA

My name is Merewairita Nono Waqa. I am originally from Nabila village, Nadroga, Fiji.  My parents Waqa (Dad) and Vuta (Mom) work at Tavarua Island Resort. As for my pre school I attended Ralete Primary school that is located in Nadi and the SMA group once donated some text book and library books to the school which was really helpful for all of us. I completed my high school at Swami Vivevakananda College which is also located in Nadi.

In 2014, the SMA starts sponsoring me with my tuition fees while attending the University of the South Pacific that is from Suva. Eloni Vou and other members of the nabila village introduced me to the SMA scholarship as it can help me achieve my dream. I am a bachelors of Commerce student, majoring in Human Resources Management and Tourism Management. For my program requirements I have tocomplete 24 units altogether and there are 8 more units left for me to complete the whole course and graduate with my degree.

I am so thankful that i am with the SMA Scholarship because without SMA I don’t think I will be where am I today, striving to reach that goal and get a better qualification for my future benefits. SMA scholarship helps and support me with my every little needs regarding my education and I am blessed that I am part of it.
Lots of Love
Merewairita Nono”



“Hope this  email find you in very good health and I just wish to update you and the SMA family on the progress of my studies here at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Tokyo, Japan.

  1. Masters Entrance Examination

I have successfully passed my Masters Entrance examination that was held on Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology on the 27thof December, 2017 as per the requirement of the University to be admitted to the Master Course Program at the Graduate School of Agriculture. That included an examination and Master’s thesis proposal. Please find attached is Master’s Entrance Examination Passing Certificate for your information.

  1. Japanese Language Proficiency

As per the requirement by the Japanese Government Scholarship to study Japanese language and culture for six months prior to pursuing to Master’s Program. Therefore I was registered under the Japanese Language Program from October, 2017 to March, 2018 and simultaneously I have completed the above course as per attached completion certificate.

  1. Master’s Program at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

As of April this year I have registered Master’s student at the Laboratory of Plant Pathology under the Department of Biointeraction and Bioregulation of the Graduate School of Agriculture. Thus I will be under the guidance of Professor Tsutomu Arie carrying out research based on the “Establishment of Control Methods of Soil Borne Diseases of Taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Japan” and as well as registered courses under the Master’s Program.

Kindly submitted for your information and awareness. My warmest gratitude to you and the SMA family for enduring support!!

Warm Regards,



“Bula Vinaka Dr.Paula,

Hope these email finds you in very good health. I just wish to send an update on my first semester in my Masters Program here at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Tokyo, Japan.

I enrolled in eight courses under my Masters Program and I happy to inform you that I successfully passed all these courses and please find attached is my academic results kindly submitted for your information and awareness and thanking you and the SMA team for your enduring support.

Thank you,

Sireli Masi”

Here area few of the beautiful Fijian students who have been recipients of the  SMA/Steve Baser Scholarship Fund over the years:

Sitiveni & Dad





Nono & Paula


The SMA scholarship fund is not only helping these students achieve their personal goals but is helping Fiji as a country by adding to the number of it’s educated citizens.

If helping these Fijian students, many of whom would be unable to further their education without financial assistance, sounds like a good thing to you you can help!  An amount that has little effect on your life can make a world of difference to these students.

Here’s how you can make a donation to the SMA/Steve Baser Fijian Scholarship Fund:

For those in the US:
You can send a check  payable to to SMA/Steve Baser Scholarship Fund to::
Paula Smith
21153 E. Cliff Dr.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

For those outside the US:
You can send a check in US dollars only or if the bank has a US branch.
You can send money through PayPal.  Just go to PayPal and send money to  If you don’t already have money in a PayPal account, you can pay through PayPal with a credit card.



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