Sometimes, one man can change the world. Through small but consistent effort. The story of Jadav Payeng, the Molai Forest Man, is one such story. He started well over 30 years ago single-handedly and has created a forest where there was sand. Spiritual people talk about compassion, and this young kid at that time demonstrated the compassion that was his inherent quality. This compassion made him do what most people will consider Super Human.
It was 1979 and floods had washed a great number of snakes onto the sandbar. When Payeng — then only 16 — found them, they had all died.
“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms,” Payeng told the Times Of India.
“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,” he told the newspaper. (link)
A little over 30 years ago, a teenager named Jadav “Molai” Payeng began burying seeds along a barren sandbar near his birthplace in northern India’s Assam region to grow a refuge for wildlife. Not long after, he decided to dedicate his life to this endeavor, so he moved to the site where he could work full-time creating a lush new forest ecosystem. Incredibly, the spot today hosts a sprawling 1,360 acre of jungle that Payeng planted single-handedly. The forest, called the Molai woods – after its creator – now serves as a safe haven for numerous birds, deers, rhinos, tigers, and elephants — species increasingly at risk from habitat loss elsewhere.
Payeng lives in the forest with his wife and three kids and earns his living by selling cow and buffalo milk.
“We’re amazed at Payeng,” says Assistant Conservator of Forests, Gunin Saikia. “He has been at it for 30 years. Had he been in any other country, he would have been made a hero.”