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doTERRA convention puts focus on Nepal relief

SALT LAKE CITY — Bishnu Adhikari was sitting in church with his family when the ceiling started to wave and the ground began to reshape itself. Children cried and people ducked under chairs as the 7.8-magnitude earthquake interrupted their worship.

"Those 58 seconds were the longest period of time in my life. I thought it would be our day," Adhikari, a humanitarian profiled in the documentary "Meet the Mormons," said as he described what he thought would be the end for his family.

Adhikari and the congregation huddled in a corner of the church with its stable structure. All survived the April 25 earthquake that claimed so many others. More than 9,000 people died and 22,000 were injured in the quake and aftershocks that also destroyed nearly 500,000 homes.

Adhikari, representing CHOICE humanitarian, was the invited guest at the global doTERRA convention at EnergySolutions Arena and the Salt Palace Convention Center that continues through Sunday. He spoke of the partnership between doTERRA, an essential oils company headquartered in Utah, and CHOICE. Together they created job opportunities in Nepal villages as a perpetual aid to help communities rebuild their economy after the earthquakes.

Emily Wright, vice president of doTERRA, said one of doTERRA's oils could be produced in Nepal. The company decided to join with CHOICE humanitarian after being contacted by the group, according to James Mayfield, cofounder of CHOICE.

The Napalese workers employed through doTERRA are primarily women, according to Mayfield. They work from 5:30 a.m. to noon, gathering and transporting wintergreen leaves, Wright said.

"They are now getting a fair price for their products, and equally important is the fact that no matter how much (wintergreen) they bring down, they will buy it," Mayfield said of doTERRA. "Like never before, there is a system where they have a guaranteed income for the first time in their lives."

The partnership created more than 1,000 harvesting jobs in 2015, which will go to support 5,375 people, Wright said. The estimated job projection is to grow to nearly 3,000 in 2017.

"People are no longer saying, 'How can the government help me?'" Mayfield said. "They are instead saying how can we help ourselves. That's been the major change."

Wright said the company increased the price of wintergreen oil from $16 to $19 and will give $3 per sale toward rebuilding Nepal. Company officials said doTERRA also donated $100,000 to Nepal earthquake relief, and launched a fundraising initiative to match funds raised by their sellers.

Together, corporate doTERRA and wellness associates raised 635,000 dollars, which provided tents, food, and hygiene kits for Nepalese. Adhikari said these funds are still being dispersed.


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