Daniel Groshong, survivor of conflict zones, now wants to give back

Daniel poses for the camera after giving a TED lecture

Daniel J. Groshong is a man with a mission.  He believes green businesses must be the future for the planet and he has been demonstrating how to do it for five years.

Daniel, a former U.S. Navy petty officer from Oregon, founded a charity called Hummingfish Foundation in 2010. He runs it out of Tseng Lan Shue where he lives with his wife Menzi and their two children. Hummingfish promotes eco-tourism in Timor-Leste and develops nature-friendly products in that new nation and in Afghanistan with similar projects planned for China, Thailand and Haiti.

After eight years in the Navy, Daniel worked as a photographer for news agencies. He survived assignments in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Somalia and believes he must devote his life to giving back.

Daniel says the charity is financed by donors such as Porticus, the representative of a philanthropic family, the European Community Pacific Islands Development Fund and individual donors.   As chief executive and founder, he is the only paid staffer in Hong Kong and his salary is “nominal”. Otherwise he relies on income from lecturing on photo-journalism at City University and soon at a United International College in Zhuhai. Hummingfish needs US$3.5 million from donors to finance its next five years, he said.

Daniel Groshong and his daughter

To explain what Hummingfish does he cites the example of fishermen in any poor country. If they can make 20 times as much money through diving tourism they have a vested interest in protecting the marine environment. The better the marine ecosystem is protected, the more valuable it is to the dive-tourism industry. This is the essence of what he is trying to do. “Eco-tourism that is community-based generates jobs by making unspoiled nature a thing of value.” Hummingfish is doing this in Timor-Leste; the former President and Nobel Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horte is the charity’s patron.

Daniel has helped Timor farmers with development of Arabica coffee branded as Maubere Mountain Coffee. You can find this coffee at Little Cove, Winerack, Casa, Linguini Fini, Posto Publico in Central and Stone Nullah Tavern in Wanchai.  Maubere coffee is also available online. Another green product from Timor is the line of soaps known as Ai-Funan.

It is Timor’s most famous brand and has been sold inflight on Cathay Pacific and in Hong Kong at Agnes b stores. Soon Daniel plans to bring a range of raisins and nuts to Hong Kong from Afghanistan cooperatives formed by Hummingfish.

Similar “green bridge”projects are planned for communities in Haiti, Cambodia, Thailand and China, Daniel said –if he can raise US$3.5 million.

See www.hummingfish.org

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