In a roadside dairy in Sangsay, India, at an altitude of 4,101 feet from sea level, the pristine beauty of the nature combined with the view of Himalayan snow-capped mountains on a clear day or during the winter months is breathtaking.

This small operation proved to be the lifeline for 40 families who are members of this dairy cooperative during a 104-day-long strike in the area. Every morning farmers brought milk to the dairy to sell and collect money at the end of the month. Ashok Lepcha said that during the three and a half months’ unrest there was no conveyance to take their farm produce to the nearest bi-weekly market in Kalimpong. They were fortunate that the dairy continued to function and they could get some cash in hand.

Daily, two women process the collected milk to separate the cream and make cheese. The whey that is left after taking out the cream and the cheese are taken by villagers to feed their pigs. Once a week, the cream is processed into butter for packaging and sale. The dried cheese is cut into long strips for smoking called Churpi in Nepali. Once dried it is also sold.

When people walk on the mountain road to commute up and down, they chew a piece of Churpi like chewing gum. There are agents who take these products to the weekly market for sale to raise funds for the co-op.

More than 200 families have profited from this dairy. Before the dairy came into existence people had to take their milk, walking up and down the mountain for 10 kilometers.

This story is shared with #GivingTuesday from The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.