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Rich Community in Poor Setting

If I don’t have a lot of something, I don’t ever want to share. I’m not proud of this fact, nor do I like to admit it, but sadly, sometimes I focus on what I don't have rather than what I do.

I didn’t see this at all in rural Nepal. Although they have little to nothing and live in some of the most extreme poverty I’ve ever witnessed, they are so selfless, share everything, and help each other in all ways. Each community is like one big family.

On our fourth day in Nepal, we passed a group of men and women on our morning hike. I watched two oxen walk round and round while tied to a tall pole. They walked on top of rice stalks.

As the oxen walked, I joined in and grabbed a handful of the dried stalks from under the oxen's feet and started shaking them in the same way I saw another man do. A few pieces of rice fell to the ground. They then bundled the stalks into bails as tall as me. Moments later, I saw a young woman walk up, swing the bail onto her back and walk up the mountain.

It was like one big assembly line. Bundle after bundle of rice stalks, the community worked without rest to retrieve the last few grains of rice hidden in the stalks. This work gave rice to the families to eat and the rice stalks became food for the ox, goats and buffalo.

What surprised me most is when they told me that everyone had been working together to bundle the hay since 2am that morning. The men and women were all from different farms, different families, and yet, they were all here working with no pay, because it was a job in the community that had to get done.

I tried to imagine what might happen in my town if a farmer went down the street and called out to the neighbors saying “Hey, I have some cherries to pick but can’t do it all by myself. I can't pay you, but can you help?” Would my entire neighborhood work all night to get the job done? Would I have helped? It was so crazy to me how the community in rural Nepal supported each other. It's incredible how devoted these communities are to each other and how they grow strength by serving and sharing with each other.

It made me realize that the sense of community is a huge factor to help end poverty. These people give hope to each other and help each other get on their feet. They do not focus on what they have, or don't have. Rather, they see and support each other. The way they partner together to accomplish goals such as harvesting the rice, is the same approach needed to find long-term solutions to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Sometimes it doesn't help to go into a community and donate a bunch of money expecting that that will end poverty, but rather it is helping those living in impoverish settings to see their own strength and the value within their community. This is the foundation upon which change can happen.

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