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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Getting their goats

Mountain villagers use ELCA World Hunger gifts to build community

It's only some 15 miles by car from the main road. But you would think you're in another world after the first 9 miles on a single-lane stone road; followed by gravel for a few more; and then finally nothing but a dirt track, barely wider than an SUV. Never mind that it's all winding road through deep gorges, hairpin curves up steep mountainsides and drop-offs on one side of the vehicle. The road ends quite high up in the mountains. You can tell just by taking a few steps and feeling the dizziness, breathing the thin air.

This is the hamlet of San-li-jiu, part of the village of Liming in the northern Yunnan province of China. The legendary Shangri-la is not far away, if the beauty of the mountains here doesn't already take your breath away.

And this is where ELCA goats graze the pastures. Well, they don't have "ELCA" stamped on them, but they are made possible by an ELCA World Hunger grant to the Lisu people, one of China's 55 ethnic minorities.

Xie Liang-zhong was born in this hamlet at the bottom of the mountain, where the stone road ends. For many generations his people lived in extreme poverty. "They lived hard," he said. "They would have meat only once a year, perhaps at New Year's, with a staple of corn and a little rice."

Back then, there were no roads and people had little contact with the outside world.


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