We Build the Road. The Road Builds Us. A Story of Shramadana in Nepal


7 minutes (Sarvodaya Nepal, 2009). In 1958, a group of students in Sri Lanka led by their teacher A.T. Ariyaratne went to a small, rural village of untouchables. They worked with villagers, shared meals, sang and danced. They built schools, houses and toilets. They called their program shramadana (gift of labor). The camp led to the national movement in Sri Lanka and the formation of Sarvodaya Movement, which now reaches 15,000 communities. Today, Sarvodaya's non-violent and spiritually based community development program is considered one of the best development models in the world. Last month, a group of students in Nepal went to a small village. They worked with the villagers to fix the only village trail, that was difficult to walk. While at the village, students begged for food, cooked, dug on steep slopes and fixed a portion of the trail. The villagers gave rice, potatoes, vegetables and their own labor. It took five hours to fix the most difficult portion of the trail that was constructed 30 years back. The process was both constructive and awakening. The total expense was less than $40 to hire a bus for the day.