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REI has helped create the only known dehydrated fruit company in Indonesia through small village-based production facilities, while developing other grassroots initiatives and training educators. REI aims to train locals and develop entrepreneurial leaders. Led by experienced young staff, the team also includes young expat professional engineers and engineering students who seek to make an impact by helping poor communities develop and thrive.

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The plane was passing over Iceland when Amber turned to me and asked, “What should we say if people ask us what we are going to do next?” It was July 2020, and we were flying to the US for REI’s biennial staff conference. We’d spent the last year and a half as REI apprentices in Indonesia, so naturally people might ask about our plans for when the apprenticeship ended. But the pace of life overseas hadn’t allowed us time to think that through.

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REI staff are people who enjoy cross cultural work, which is filled with challenge and adventure. They are people with a passion for seeing individual lives and whole communities transformed and are motivated to work through some hard times to see that happen. Chuck and Katie Nicholson retired from REI last month, having worked with REI for 26 years, first in Vietnam, and then in Indonesia. One of their greatest accomplishments has been introducing the business of fruit dehydration to Java, Indonesia’s largest island.

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