Get paid while doing something that makes you happy! Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? It can be, I suppose, depending on your perspective.
This last week I volunteered at an organic fruits and vegetables farm up in the far reaches in the mountain province of the Philippines. I really just wanted to immerse in to a local culture and figured breaking bread and hanging out with farmers for a week was a good way to do so. I found it through helpx.net and in exchange for some work on the farm, I was able to stay at no cost. I’m not sure you could classify my efforts as work; than more of a hands-on educational experience. I chopped sunflower stalks that were used for bedding for coffee planting, made natural fertilizers through vermi-something/something (technical term for worms), picked beans for market, planted coffee, and re-planted banana trees. I was even fortunate enough to feast on a meal totally picked and cooked that day on the farm.
Welcome to Layog Country Farm owned by Flordelina (phonetically pronounced Untee Lina). Here’s a woman, locally born and raised as part of the Igorot peoples. The Igorot’s are indigenous to the mountain region of Luzon and have long standing history in the Philippines. Some of that history being folk-lore and seems to have been passed on till this day. Auntie Lina is an idealist! Here’s this woman who wants to, not only, give back to her own and promote healthy, organic, and sustainable farming practices to a region that has been farming for centuries but to also invite outsiders to experience her farm-stay and share the knowledge and hospitality of the Igorot peoples. She also believes that all, specifically the poor, should have access to her produce and is really ruffling some feathers taking her goods to market and selling at the same cost of the non-organic farmers, which most likely has been sprayed with chemicals to yield production.
Let’s be real… the label “organic” is costly and Whole Foods (large organic grocery chain) would laugh if asked to enter this market. However, all Auntie Lina wants is get a little assistance from local authorities to help offset costs so they can advocate and promote healthy farming, while keeping the proven techniques the Igorot’s have used and passed on for generations. You can feel her passion when she talks about the farm. You can also quickly figure out this is not the get-rich-if-any-profit-at-all business plan.
The day I had arrived to the farm, Auntie Lina had just returned from a meeting with some local agricultural authority and a bit discouraged feeling dismissed in her efforts. The following day she invited me to join her as she put on a lunch for the Dept. of Trade & Industry and also with another person from the office of the same local agricultural authority that dismissed her previously. I didn’t understand anything spoken non-English but it was obvious that both groups were especially encouraged by her efforts and were even offering up the endless possibilities. By the end of the meetings she was jumping for joy (literally) and even threw me a hug in the process.
So does happy have to be profitable? I say NO it doesn’t Auntie Lina! Your passion is real and is genuinely intended to help improve the lives of others. The world needs more people like you! Keep doing what makes you happy…… so BE HAPPY!
“Research shows that once you have all of your material needs taken care of — which most of us, all of us, here in this room do — research shows that there are very few things in life that can actually elevate your level of happiness. One of those things is contributing to a cause larger than yourself. Sheryl WuDunn”
Roughing it in my cabin for the week. 😉