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Buy This Land Paperback – May 31, 2012
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About the Author
Chi-Dooh Li is a partner at the Seattle law firm Ellis, Li & McKinstry and founder of Agros International, an organization that has received recognition from the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank for combating the root causes of poverty.
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Top customer reviews
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It is a remarkable and compelling story. A child refugee from China when the communists came to power, Li lived in Sydney, then in Taipei, then for 6 years in Guatemala and Colombia, as his father was given diplomatic postings in those countries. Li subsequently went to college in the US, became a Christian, married and settled in the US, and began his career as a lawyer. His life was already busy and full when he heard God's call to help the poor in Central America.
As anyone with significant experience in serving the poor will attest, helping people out of poverty is a lot more difficult than it seems. Effective poverty relief requires changes to the systems which keep people poor, and it requires the active participation and enthusiasm of the people who are being helped; money alone is ineffective. Agros International has found an effective way of addressing poverty because it changes the system of landlessness which has kept people poor, and it motivates the poor to work for land of their own.
The book describes how Li's dream of buying land on behalf of the poor led to an initial experiment in Guatemala, and then to gradual expansion in other countries. In a typical project, Agros buys a large parcel of land and provides technical expertise to numerous smallholder farmers who gradually pay for their own portion of the land out of the profits they make on their crops.
This is an inspiring story, showing how a person with a God-given vision can overcome numerous obstacles and make a significant difference in the lives of many. Chi-Dooh Li's dream has grown into a large organisation with a multi-million-dollar annual budget, but he still has not given up his day job, continuing to work as a lawyer in Seattle.
Even so, I was greatly moved by this book.
This is a story, told with humility and grace, of one man's remarkable idea -- to acquire farmland in impoverished portions of Central America, divide it into workable agricultural parcels, and sell it to impoverished farming families. Financing would come from loans payable in practical terms by the sale of crops harvested from these same parcels, allowing families to fully own the land within a period of years.
Starting in a period of intense turmoil and war and ending in the present day, this remarkable idea is slowly transformed from wishful thinking to reality. The work needed to find and purchase land, develop agricultural expertise, vet needful families, and ultimately pass ownership of the land to the poor is nothing short of incredible. This is a story of creating true goodness, of bringing reality into being through intense persistence, pragmatism, and pure desire.
I found the story’s telling compelling enough to purchase both the paper and Kindle versions of the book. The author writes honesty and simply, reflecting in his prose acceptance of the extraordinary serendipity that accompanies many of the events he relates. In truth, what moved me was the author’s assumption of hope, even against the greatest odds, and of the many tender human relationships that allowed the ultimate fulfilment of a great dream.
If you haven’t yet, get this book now. Read it. It’s unforgettable.
If you are looking for the definitive history of Agros International, a unique organization that does private land reform for the rural poor, that book has yet to be written. This is the story of Agros' founder,a bit bout the founding of Agros, and in its final chapters, his legacy to its board.
The book that Skip HAS written is fascinating in its skein of coincidence, faith, and cussed stubbornness. It's a moving, funny, and personal story of the commitment to an ideal coming to grips with the real. Given Skip's history, it's no wonder that he would evince skepticism of the rational, methodical, current government-academic-techno-partnership answers to solving the conundrum of poverty.