Position: Village Blacksmith Location: Island of Tonga
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Position: Village Blacksmith Location: Island of Tonga

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If the village blacksmith once celebrated in verse is still at the forge, an American Jewish organization wants to post him–or her–to a South Sea island kingdom.

The organization is the American ORT Federation, the kingdom is Toga, and the job, to train farmers in the use of plows, shoeing horses, and repair of small farm equipment. Smith skills are missing in Tonga, where, with small farm plots and an abundance of horses, plowing is best done by animal.

ORT seeks the blacksmith-trainer at the request of the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific (FSP), a fellow private voluntary organization under a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (AID).

The Tonga project fits a well-established ORT activity. For 20 years ORT’s Technical Assistance Department has conducted development and training programs in the Third World, with an emphasis on “training trainers.” Local personnel called “counter-parts” are involved in projects which they eventually take over, allowing ORT to “phase in-phase out.”

ORT technical assistance programs are funded largely by governmental and non-governmental bodies like AID and the World Bank. They started with a call from the State Department requesting ORT to study manpower needs and the feasibility of meeting them in eight African countries.

The reports led to operations in Guinea and Mali which later became pioneering case book studies not only for ORT and what later became the Agency for International Development of the State Department, but also for other practitioners in the field.


Altogether, 50 countries in Africa, Asia, South American and the Middle East have been reached by ORT technical assistance programs, including the training of teachers at the Central ORT Institute in Switzerland.

Examples of current programs are maintenance of part facilities in Burma, micro-electronic and data processing development in Turkey, a 10-year program for managers and technicians in bauxite mining in Guinea and maintenance of Zaire’s roads and road equipment. Also, in Zaire, on-the-job training in running that country’s 243 ferries.

The blacksmith who takes on the Tonga project will work under the neighs of the Prime Minister, Prince Tui’pelehake–brother of the King–according to Stanley Hosie, FSP executive director.

Graduates of the program are entitled to a cart and horse, which are not always where they should be. In one demonstration by on FSP officer, there was only one horse for nine students. The Tongans worked the animal so enthusiastically that a second had to be substituted before class was over.

Tonga (population 92,000) is a stretch of Polynesian islands in the South Pacific between Hawaii and New Zealand. Every male there over 16 is entitled to land, which is generally arable, but in short supply, and some of which is volcanic.


Also for the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, ORT supervised design and construction of two mobile agricultural storage vans for Western Samoa, another island kingdom. The vans are famished with storage bins and audio visual equipment and will travel over rough roads to demonstrate for local farmers the use of improved seeds and growing techniques.

The vans will be mounted on GM diesel tracks and were hand crafted by Richard Byers in his work shed near Paw Paw, Michigan. They are scheduled to arrive in Western Samoa early August to a reception attended by representatives of both the United States and local government, as well as of the participating organizations.

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