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John Wood was a man who achieved the American dream. A businessman at Microsoft since 1991, he was worth millions of dollars. He lived in the lap of luxury—he flew business class around the world, lived in a beautiful home and had a personal chauffeur. "There were times when I looked around and felt like I just hit the jackpot," he says.

Then, John took a vacation that would change his life forever. "My first trip to Nepal in 1998 was taken just to escape from the constant 7/24, commando, business-warrior lifestyle," he says. "I trekked for 18 days through areas that had no paved roads, no cars, no telephones. People were living in poverty in conditions that I just found shocking."

During his trip, John took an opportunity to visit a school, thinking he would see the "real Nepal." What he saw depressed him. Seventy five or 80 kids were crammed into a small room with dirt floors. "Most importantly, they had a library that had only about 20 books that were backpacker cast-offs, completely inappropriate for children," he says. "And I wondered, 'How can you ever break the cycle of poverty if the kids don't get educated?'"

John vowed to return to the school within a year to bring books for a new library. "One of the teachers said to me, 'Many people have told us they will come back, but nobody ever does.'"
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FROM: I Walked Away from Millions
Published on April 03, 2007

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