July 17, 2003 - Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Moldova RPCV Tom Habermann find roots in Ukraine

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Moldova: Peace Corps Moldova : The Peace Corps in Moldova: July 17, 2003 - Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Moldova RPCV Tom Habermann find roots in Ukraine

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 9:02 am: Edit Post

Moldova RPCV Tom Habermann find roots in Ukraine

Moldova RPCV Tom Habermann find roots in Ukraine

Career finds roots in Ukrainian city
Lutheran grad starts dairy facility in Lviv

By Amy Weaver
Herald Times Reporter

MANITOWOC — Some people are destined to be accountants, but not Tom Habermann.

A 1992 graduate of Manitowoc Lutheran High School and 1996 product of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Habermann tried accounting for two years but decided it was not his dream. After spending more than four years in Europe, the 29-year-old believes he has found his niche helping out in developing countries.

It all started when Habermann decided to join the Peace Corps, the international volunteer organization. It was something he always thought of doing and 1998 was an ideal time to change careers.

Habermann spent a year and a half in Hincesti, a small village (pop. 2,000) in the small European country of Moldova, located between Romania and the Ukraine. The primitive lifestyle — no running water or electricity — was new to Habermann, but he got used to it.

“You don’t have a choice,” he said. “It’s either sink or swim.”

Habermann worked with a local dairy co-op. Villagers generally owned one or two cows each, and milk was sold in bulk. Habermann generated about $100 a month, making him one of the village’s wealthiest men, he said.

The youngest of five boys, Habermann was no stranger to a dairy operation. He grew up on the family dairy farm, which his brother, Todd, still runs with his wife, Janet, and their children. He said his brother’s 60 cows produce more milk daily than every cow in Hincesti.

Although Habermann called his time in Moldova an adventure, he left his two-year stint with the Peace Corps early to work as a consultant for the United States in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. For 18 months, he oversaw the spending of federal dollars to improve living conditions there.

He enjoyed the Lviv area so much he stayed after the funding stopped and started his own milk processing facility.

Habermann recently returned home to renew his passport and visa. He will go back to the Ukraine in the next week or so. With the business running smoothly and management in place, Habermann plans to start graduate school at the Institute of Social Studies in Hague, Holland.

He wants to earn a master’s degree in international development, specifically in rural settings. That will help with his immediate plans and many for the future, he said.

Habermann never imagined his life would be like this, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Every single day is an adventure,” he said. “You have no idea what’s going to happen. I enjoy that.”

Habermann said he’s been in some bad situations — too numerous to count — that make that part of Europe a difficult place to live or work. But it hasn’t deterred him yet. He knows he is making a difference by employing 15 people and providing income for 60 different families.

“If I wasn’t there, that wouldn’t be there,” he said. “And I just started.”

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Story Source: Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Moldova; COS - Ukraine; Milk Processing



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