When he was a teenager in Northern India’s Assam region about 30 years ago, Jadav “Molai” Payeng began planting seeds in a sandbar near his birthplace. A few years later, he moved into the area and turned the seed-planting and tree-nurturing into his life’s work, planting seeds and helping them grow over a wide area that was initially left for desolate.
In the past 30 years, his seed-planting endeavours have resulted in a massive, 1,360-acre jungle in Assam, a forest ecosystem that has left an incredible mark on the Indian landscape and stands as a testament to Payeng’s dedication.
Initially, the forest department told Payeng that trees could not grow in that area. He was not dissuaded; instead he dedicated himself to the task of nurturing the forest, and his dedication has produced results. The Molai woods, in addition to being covered with lush greenery, is now home to a whole host of creatures big and small, including birds, deers, rhinos, tigers, and elephants.
Jadav “Molai” Payeng is a hero to those animals, to the ecosystem in the area, and to conservationists across India. But he is also a hero to us, people living oceans away who don’t necessarily work in forestry or in the environment industry. Payeng is a hero because he has proven that with commitment, blood, sweat, knowledge, and dedication to making a difference, one person can truly make a difference, and a large difference, on the world.
It’s easy to discount the impact that we can have on the people and places around us. It’s easy to feel insignificant when faced with the enormity of the issues that surround us. But it’s important to remember that our actions, no matter how small they may be, make a difference. Whether it’s bringing a smile to someone’s day or revitalizing a forest ecosystem, the little acts of kindness and good have enormous impact.
Our small actions may not necessarily lead to a forest and safe haven for animals, but they have the potential to grow and flourish all the same.
Writer and Blogger