Conflict & Justice

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This story is a part of

Global Nation

This story is a part of

Global Nation

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A Bhutanese woman harvesting rice in a Vermont paddy.

Credit:

Lauren Ober

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    A Bhutanese man makes a butterfly out of rice stalks. These butterflies would traditionally hang in Bhutanese homes until the following year's rice harvest.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober

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    Members of the Bhutanese refugee community in Vermont use long knives and hand sickles to cut the stalks of rice on the quarter-acre paddy.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober

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    In Bhutan, the rice would be dried for a few days before it would be beaten. But weather in Vermont is too variable, so the rice has to be beaten right after the harvest.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober

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    In Vermont, the Bhutanese men and women do an equal share of the harvesting jobs. There is no gender breakdown to the tasks.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober

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    All the rice that's harvested this year will be saved for seed so that the paddy can grow to five acres next year. Once the rice is knocked out of the stalks, large fans will blow any excess vegetation from the grains.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober

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    Rita Neopaney helps separate the rice stalks from the grains that have been removed. Neopaney spent much of her youth in a refugee camp in Nepal, but still remembers how to harvest rice from her years in Bhutan.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober

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    Ashok Dahal, a Bhutanese elder, grew up harvesting rice. Everyone had to learn how to grow rice in Bhutan, he says, regardless of their standing in the community.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober

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    If all goes well with next year's rice paddy, the Bhutanese community in Vermont will be able to eat rice they grew and harvested themselves.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober

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    The Bhutanese rice paddy is a project of the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, a Burlington-based nonprofit serving refugees from all over the world.

    Credit:

    Lauren Ober