We each have the power to change our world. Jadav Payeng of the Mishing tribe in the state of Assam in India has demonstrated how this is true. After noticing that floods had washed away an important eco-system back in the 1980’s and the loss was contributing to the alarming number of reptile deaths and migration away by birdlife, Jadav decided that something had to be done. He went to his elders for guidance and they told him to plant a new forest. When he realised that he would have to do that task of replanting alone, he dedicated the next three decades to planting bamboo single-handedly. He also came up with a clever way of self-watering the saplings.
Today, the Molai forest of over 1,300 acres stands where the washed away land used to be, and is filled with wildlife, including elephants, rhinocerous and tigers. Jadav was recently honoured by the School of Environmental Sciences, at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and also by the Indian Institute of Forest Management, for his efforts.
Despite living a very modest lifestyle in the forest with his family, and many of his friends having left this lifestyle behind for the riches of the city, no amount of money could buy the feeling of satisfaction that Payeng has from being recognised for his achievements, as well as the experience of living in a forest he helped rebuild.