In the North East of India, lies the largest inland island in the world, Majuli Island, which is home to over 150,000 people.
Mainly due to significant deforestation, the annual monsoon floods have eroded away much of the island, causing massive damage to the area.
Starting as a 16 year old in 1979, Jadav Payeng, set about reversing this issue and started to plant seeds along the sandy, barren coast of the island.
Over the next 30 years, Jadav planted 1,360 acres of trees, creating a marvellous forest larger than New York’s Central Park!
What caused him to take such massive action?
In his own words, “The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested.”
No one else was interested, no one else would help, but Jadav saw a problem, started small, took consistent action over a long period of time and has created a remarkable ecosystem all by himself.
Since creating this unique forest, a host of wonderful and endangered species have returned to the area, including tigers (which have since started breeding), Indian rhinos, deer, vultures, his beloved reptiles and a herd of over 100 elephants.
What a remarkable man!
In a complex world, with a multitude of seemingly insurmountable problems, it’s easy to believe that one person is incapable of making much of a difference.
Try telling that to Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa or Jadav Payeng.
One person can make a massive difference.
And let me put it to you that we each have a responsibility to do so.
So stop complaining about the state of the world and stop waiting for others to join you.
You can provide the solution.
You can make the world a better place!
For more information about Jadav’s extraordinary story, check out “The Forest Man” an award-winning documentary by film maker William McMaster.
And remember, people like Jadav aren’t here just to make us feel good about the world, but to inspire us to do our part in making a positive difference in the world.
So, what are you going to start planting?