Louis Faure was set for life. H
e graduated from one of the most prestigious business schools in his native France, a university where corporations fight to hire exemplary students as employees. But the young Frenchman knew better than to go down this convenient route.
“Though I come from a privileged background, I was kind of boxed and I had to get out of it,” says the 25-year-old. “I simply had to put myself in an environment where I was like a baby thrown into a middle of the forest and I had to find my way. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what I’m made of or what I’m worth.”
So he packed his bags, flew to the Philippines, and took an internship at the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan. It was only then that he discovered his purpose.
“This process was transformational for me. Working with the farmers and raising chickens was what I needed to break down fake images of myself,” says Louis Faure.
When he joined the social enterprise incubator in 2014, he took on the responsibility of taking care of farm animals, tending to the daily needs of pigs and ducks. He traded case studies on international corporations for research on the agribusiness industry, particularly raising organic native chickens. “This process was transformational for me. Working with the farmers and raising chickens was what I needed to break down fake images of myself.”
Though he came to such a realization, he knew it still wasn’t his calling. “I understood that my purpose wasn’t to directly help the farmers in this country. I’m not a farmer myself and I’m not a Filipino. There came a point when I could only connect as much. And so I had to look at what had been my real impact ever since I came to GK and I could see that it was mainly through the youth that I have interacted with, be it in the Philippines or in France, because the journey that I’ve been through echoes with a lot of them.”
Armed with a renewed spirit and a clearer vision of his purpose, Faure took it upon himself to take care of the organization’s interns. Apart from coordinating their stay, his job now involves coaching and training.
“The people who come here are suddenly faced with the blunt and honest reality,” he says. “All of them come with skills from school and have the mindset to change the world. Here, they realize that it’s not really about helping but connecting. And you can’t connect if you’re not true to yourself.”
Being in the farm definitely raises questions. And it is his task to push the people to answer them. “I see my generation to be so boxed in. We believe that we’re so connected when I actually see people around me living with so much fear, self-limitation, and poverty. This experience will challenge everything they’ve been thinking, feeling, and working on so far.”
Over six months, local and foreign interns will immerse in the GK community and help in different departments, including farming. “When I arrived in the Philippines and first met the farmers, I thought to myself that they would never respect me. I come from Paris, I get sunburned, I can’t hold a hammer. But they didn’t care,” he confesses. “What mattered to them was how honest I could be. Could I wake up early in the morning to take care of the chickens? If they have to rush to the hospital, can I watch over their kids? That’s what really mattered.”
“I see my generation to be so boxed in. We believe that we’re so connected when I actually see people around me living with so much fear, self-limitation, and poverty. This experience will challenge everything they’ve been thinking, feeling, and working on so far,” says Louis Faure.
“There’s not one single person I’ve met who hasn’t taught me something. Whether I’m in front of the prime minister of Iceland (just like last September) or one of the farmers, it’s no different. I’m not inferior or superior. We both have something to learn from each other.”
It took a humbling trip to the Philippines to discover what was unique in him. Faure couldn’t figure out what it was before because he was never challenged enough to pull out the tools he didn’t know he had. Now that he has lived through it, he is on a mission to help other people go through the same enriching ordeal.
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Originally published in F&B Report Vol. 15 No. 4