Forest Man

photo: Huffington Post

photo: Huffington Post

“The purpose of life
is to contribute
in some way to
making things better.”
Robert F. Kennedy

“Are we being good ancestors?”
Jonas Salk


What would you do to save your home?

One man planted trees. His name is Jadav “Molai” Payeng, and his story is a remarkable one.

His home is in northeast India on Majuli Island. Though Majuli is the largest river island in the world, its position makes it vulnerable to flood waters that recede its shores every year. So vulnerable, in fact, that in the past 100 years, Majuli has lost 70% of its landmass, and at this rate, scientists predict that in the next couple of decades the island could completely disappear.

Rather than sit idly by, waiting for powerful river waters to wash his home away, Payeng planted trees.

Jadav "Molai" Payeng

Jadav “Molai” Payeng

He began in the 1970s (when he was 16 years old), first planting saplings, then seeds. A little here. Watering. Tending. Then more planting.

After a few years it became a 742-acre bamboo thicket. Today, well, it has grown to over 1,400 acres (almost 3 square miles) of lush green forest, and habitat to a variety of endangered species of birds and mammals. Locals call the place “Molai Kathoni” (Molai’s Forest) after Payeng’s nickname.

Seems Payeng’s decision to plant a tree has led to his land becoming a veritable…refuge – for his home, his community, and the returning natural wildlife.

Unbelievable!  What a testimony to the impact one person can make.

When Canadian filmmaker, William Douglas McMaster, caught wind of the story, he created the inspiring documentary short, Forest Man, as told from the perspective of Payeng’s friend, photographer Jitu Kalita. The video piece is a bit long, but it’s well worth your time.

I can’t help but see Payeng’s story as a metaphor for life. We may not have time nor means to plant an actual forest, but we can plant seeds of goodness. We can cultivate kindness. Because the truth of the matter is – there are too many things eroding away at home and family. You could be the one to shore it up and save it.

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you’re gone, but the things you do for others become legacy.”
Ziad K. Abdelnour

Let’s face it, good or bad – everyone leaves a legacy. What kind of legacy are you leaving? Payeng saw a need and planted a tree. And, what an impact!

The same can be done with the landscape of your world. Begin today. Plant something positive. Water it. Tend it. Then plant some more. Little by little, who knows, the legacy you leave may be a blessing and a refuge.







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