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Sri Lankan Charity Offers Alternative Economic Development Model Through Buddhist Principles

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Sri Lankan Charity Offers Alternative Economic Development Model Through Buddhist Principles

For decades, the conventional wisdom for Third World countries has been "Borrow money, build factories, and get on the export bandwagon." But for decades, many people in those countries have sought home-grown alternatives.

This story looks at one of the most ambitious of those efforts. In the late 1950s, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi launched a movement he hoped would transform his native Sri Lanka from the ground up. The idea would combine Buddhist principles with a long tradition of volunteer labor to create an alternative to prevailing models of economic development.

A half a century later, Sarvodaya is Sri Lanka's biggest charity, reaching millions of people in 15,000 villages. Sandy Tolan from Homelands Productions saw how the reality on the ground stacks up against the founder's grand vision.

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