Sunday, July 14, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Buy This Land (2013) - Chi-Dooh Li

This book is the summation of the American dream - an incredible, unexpected unlikely journey that ends with giving back, with paying it forward for future generations. It is the autobiography of Chi-Dooh Li, a man whose beginnings were just as extraordinary as his achievements.

When he was just a baby, he was to be left behind in China, with his grandfather, while the rest of his family traveled for his father's new job. Chi-Dooh's stepmother kidnapped him and brought him with them just before the Chinese came under Communist rule. Had he been left behind, as his grandfather wanted, Chi-Dooh's life path would have been very, very different. The family traveled often as Chi-Dooh grew up, going through Sydney, Taipei, Guatemala, and Bogota before Chi-Dooh followed in his brothers footsteps and traveled to America for higher education. While here, Chi-Dooh got his degree as a lawyer, found God, and started a family of his own.

When an Argentinian pastor spoke at his church, Chi-Dooh felt called to find a way to help the poor in Central America. This is what led to the founding of Agros International. What started as an experiment in Guatemala blossomed and expanded to other countries. Focused on long-term sustainability, Agros buys a parcel of land and provides expertise to farmers who then gradually pay for their portion of the land out of the profits they make on their crops.

Anyone who has tried to fight poverty knows that this did not come easily, but Chi-Dooh's experience with founding Agros has proven effective. It changes the system which has kept people poor, and it motivates the poor to work for land of their own. Chi-Dooh does not summarize in his book, either, which is fantastic if you are someone who desires to take on such altruistic goals yourself. He details all of the steps, each foot forward that was met with several steps back, each victory and each frustration, before being able to make a difference.

If there's anything to be taken away from Chi-Dooh's story, it's that anyone can make a difference.  The news has been filled with a lot of depressing stories recently, but there is still good going on in the world. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to see how they can make a difference, who want to read about the good that is going on in the world, or to people who just want to read an inspiring, uplifting, true story.

Agros International still operates and expands today. More information here:

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