Bringing Business to Farmers
- Africa, Tonga
Peace Corps Volunteer Jeannine Hurrish describes community life and work in Tonga, where she built business skills with the Future Farmers of Tonga organization.
There are many contrasts between Tonga and the United States—and one of the ones that I found are that just the difference between community and family living. And even though at home I'm very close to my family, it's nothing like it is here. These people truly live communally. They live for each other. If you ask someone, "How are you today?" in Tonga, you aren't really asking them, "How are you?" specifically. They will answer you as, "I'm fine" but that really means, "My family is fine; my village is fine; I'm doing well; my church group is doing fine." It's really not about them. They don't really think of themselves as individuals.
My background is business, so I'm working with the Future Farmers of Tonga on a business platform. I'm teaching them the business background. They know how to farm. They're excellent, excellent farmers. They know their crops; they know their weather. What they don't know is that they can make a living off of what they're doing everyday. They just needed a little help to know where the money was coming from, how it was being spent, and how to re-invest that money back into their business.
I worked for an insurance company for 23 years, and while I did find that fulfilling, it wasn't enough for me. I really wanted something else in my life. And one of the things that I knew about myself was that I wanted to experience another culture from the inside. I didn't want to just be a tourist. I really wanted to live it.