When one person is set on making a difference, good luck trying to stop them. No matter how long it takes or how hard the going gets, they're going to keep fighting the good fight. After all, when that project goes on for long enough, it can turn into their life's work. It becomes the legacy they leave behind for the world. Sadly, not every dream project works out like they envisioned, but through sheer force of will, some will achieve the impossible.
One of them is Jadav Payeng, India's "Forest Man." His dream seemed simple enough at first, but grew into something even he didn't expect. Back in 1979, he wanted to plant some trees to build new homes for local animals and migrating birds who lost their habitats thanks to deforestation. Today, the once-barren island of Majuli can now boast a forest that's even larger than Central Park.
As you'll see in the full video, it's all down to Payeng's dedication to planting a few trees every day for 37 years.
At first, it seemed like too big of a job for one man. His home state of Assam, India was beset with massive flooding around the time he started, and it was hard to find a way to water all his trees when it finally died down. But rather than carrying the water over and over from the nearby River Brahmaputra, Payeng got creative. He built bamboo platforms over his saplings and fitted them with clay pots punctured with small holes. The way he set his rig up, the pots would gradually trickle water onto the plants over the course of a week and ensure he wouldn't have to tend to each sapling one at a time.
To make the area more fertile, he also released ants and termites into the island's soil. The local institute of water and land management agreed with the decision. Their representative said the insects would make the land less hard and rocky while the termites would release enzymes into the soil and improve it from a chemical standpoint. Once Payeng got his system running, he was able to get a foothold and keep on planting.
However, as his forest grew, he faced a new challenge. You may have noticed in the full video that his forest attracted elephants, tigers, and other wildlife. When these animals came, they wandered into the nearby villages and started damaging the farms there. Fearing the loss of their crops, the villagers began planning to destroy Payeng's forest.
When he learned what was going on, he started planting more banana trees to slake the elephants' appetite. As his forest grew, other wildlife such as deer made their homes there and the tigers found enough prey to eat without having to go near any villages.
Payeng overcame so many challenges in single-handedly building this forest that it seems only right to name it after him. That's exactly what the Assam government did when they called it Mulai Kathoni Bari — an ode to his nickname, Mulai. Don't forget to check out the full video and see what can happen when you put 37 years of work into something.
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