Anyone can do a lot of good things in life. Millions are not always required for this, but kindness and a sense of responsibility for the world around you are certainly needed. Then the results will be remarkable and can become known all over the world. Majuli Island is located in the Jorhat district of the Indian state of Assam, near the great Brahmaputra River. It is inhabited by more than 170 thousand representatives of the Mishing people.
With climate change, it is becoming increasingly difficult to live on the island. Always a full-flowing river with the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas is gradually becoming more active. With the arrival of the warm season, the water in it rises higher, eroding the strip connecting with the mainland with a powerful current, and putting more and more sand on the shores.
In 1979, an event occurred that marked the beginning of the complete transformation of the island. The results of the next flood were particularly devastating. A 16-year-old young man, Jadav Payeng, nicknamed «Molai», was walking along the shore and saw hundreds of snakes that had been washed away by the stream, and now lay dead or gradually dying on the hot sand.
He looked at the infernal picture and was amazed. He suddenly imagined how representatives of his people would lie in the same way, dying on the sand without a single trace of vegetation under the hot sun. It was then that he decided to act. The guy didn’t have any money or even assistants, but he started alone.
The young man decided that if trees grow along the shore, their roots will bind the soil and absorb excess water, which will prevent flooding in the future. He planted the first 20 bamboo seedlings almost immediately. The guy just made deep holes in the ground (and most often it turned out, in the sand) with a stick, and then «planted» trees or bamboo in them.
At first his idea was called crazy, but over time they began to reckon with him. Realizing that he was working slowly, Jadav turned to the forestry department of the district with a request for help to the island. His request was treated with understanding. A program of forest planting on 200 hectares was launched, in which the guy took part as a worker. She worked for 5 years.
When the project was completed and the main group of workers left, Jadav continued the work manually. He took care of the planted trees, found and transplanted seedlings that appeared in new places, planted seeds. Payeng had no scientific knowledge, the technique was hands, a stick and a shovel, but he passionately dreamed of how magnificent forests would cover his native island, give shelter from water flows to people and animals.
Many years have passed. Today, Jadava seeds have grown into a large forest covering an area of 500 hectares. He gives food and shelter to many animals and birds of different species. Elephants and tigers, rhinos, monkeys and many other representatives of fauna live here. Payeng is called the «Man of the Forest», which is named after him on all maps.
Talking about his work, he said that he had just started the planting process, and then Nature itself extended a helping hand to him. In the outside world, they found out about the amazing act of a simple resident after his acquaintance with photographer Dzitu Kalita in 2009. Amazed, Jitu published an article in a local newspaper, after which Payeng’s name began to become more and more famous.
He has received numerous awards at Home, including the Padma Shri, which is the fourth highest civilian state award in India. In 2014, the story about him won the best documentary at the Cannes Film Festival. Nowadays, Jadav Payeng still lives on the island in the middle of his forest, in a small hut. He has a wife, two sons and a daughter. There is a farm where he keeps buffaloes.
The sale of milk from buffaloes is the only source of income for the whole family. As he claims, for all the time he lost about 100 individuals in the forest from tiger raids, but he blames this only on people who cut down forests and force animals to live in uncharacteristic conditions. Payeng guards the forest and loves animals. He meets with tourists who often visit the region and tells them about the surrounding nature.
The man calls the forest his big house and declares that anyone who tries to cut down a tree will have to kill him first. A simple worker, fantastic diligence and dedication to his small homeland, he created a real miracle and really saved everyone who existed on the island from extinction or the most difficult relocation. If a person has a noble goal and tirelessly goes to it– he will definitely achieve the fulfillment of his dream. Such achievements usually make not only him happy, but also everyone around him.