Gaining Perspective in Nepal
If you ever find yourself in Kathmandu, try the MOMO. Seriously, that stuff is delicious.
Earlier this year, I did find myself in Kathmandu. And while I ate my weight in momo, that wasn’t why I was there.
Along with several other members on the Tyson Foods Corporate Communications team, I traveled to Nepal to meet Moushumi Shrestha – agricultural entrepreneur and, together with Tyson Foods, co-sponsor of a brand new ONEEGG project in Nepal.
We first met Moushumi and her husband Satish at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Boudhanath, one of Nepal’s largest Buddhist shrines.
The word that immediately comes to mind to describe Moushumi is “elegant.” She dresses in a traditional kurta and moves with a grace that tells you she’s confident and capable of anything. But the moment we sit down for dinner, it’s also clear that Moushumi is warm, welcoming, and genuinely happy to see us. She’s quick to laugh; when she’s not laughing, she’s thinking seriously and deeply about the conversation at hand. She’s present. She’s engaged. She cares.
When she goes on to describe the 2015 earthquake that devastated Nepal, it’s clear that even three years later, the memory of that disaster is still fresh in her mind. Which makes sense, because for Moushumi and Satish, the earthquake was a turning point.
That’s when Shreenagar Farms began buying eggs back from farmers and donating them to local schoolchildren. Today, they’re providing 5,000 eggs a week to 7 different schools in Nepal. Through OneEgg, they’ll be able to build additional poultry farms, give more eggs to more schools, and launch a public awareness campaign about the importance of protein in childhood development.
This was the story we’d come to tell. But to call this a “work trip” would be an adventure in seriously missing the point.
For me, it went much deeper than that: I saw firsthand how our purpose, our commitment to raising the world’s expectations for how much good food can do, plays out in real ways – in the real world.
Kathmandu is pure energy and life with a healthy dose of traffic, packed to the brim with people moving in from smaller towns and villages all over Nepal. It’s also a miracle of historical preservation. Step into the old cities of Bhaktapur or Lalitpur and you’ll find yourself surrounded by temples, palaces, and shops that were built 600 years ago. And it’s in these areas that the earthquake still makes its presence felt most clearly, in piles of centuries-old brick and cracks in palace walls that have otherwise stood the test of time.
Walking through these ancient neighborhoods, I was tempted to think that the first thing Kathmandu needs is renovation and repair—for the streets and buildings to be restored so they can last long into the future. Sure, that work is important, but Moushumi saw an even more fundamental need she could help fill: the need for nourishing and nutritious food that would give the people of Nepal strength to rebuild. That’s what makes feeding people such an urgent and important task.
Speaking of people: my goodness, the vibrant and welcoming Nepalese people. We met chicken farmers who had achieved new levels of financial security and entrepreneurial ambition through their work with Shreenagar Farms. Then there were the children: the blind boy who told us that he dreams of being a lawyer, the three teenagers at a low-caste school who could beatbox with the best of them, and the countless other kids who wanted nothing more than to know your name and tell you theirs in return.
And, of course, there were Moushumi and Satish, two of the most kindhearted people you’ll ever meet. Business owners who truly, deeply believe that their business can be a catalyst for good. But this cast of wonderful characters doesn’t stop at the Nepalese border. It extends all the way to Tyson Foods, where I have the tremendous fortune of working with countless people who want nothing more than to use their work to put a bit of good back into the world.
Which brings me to the entire purpose of our trip: the egg donation program. Watching each child’s eyes light up as their hands peeled away the shell from those powerful, protein-packed snacks, it occurred to me that maybe, after all, this is how we can make the world a better place: one egg at a time.
If perspective is seeing the world from a particular point of view, then going halfway around the globe is a great way to gain some radically fresh perspective.
In Nepal, I was reminded that feeding the world isn’t a job for just one company in just one country. It’s a humongous task. And let’s face: development is messy. But when you see the work Moushumi and OneEgg are doing, and when you see companies like Tyson Foods supporting that work, you know that it’s possible.
That’s the good food can do. And that’s work worth doing.