Creating Something Out of Nothing: The Forest Man of India

Posted on April 15, 2017 by Dr. Lynda

There are magicians among us whose single-mindedness appears to be their magic.

Today, EWC’s Saturdays Around the World article travels to a little-known corner of northeast India, to a place called Majuli. While the Guinness Book of World Records lists it as the largest river island, it has lost more than half its land to erosion. It was accelerating until one man in 1979 decided to do something crazy: create a forest.

Image: Indian Man planting a tree on a beach
Source: Political Funda

As far back as 1971, soil scientists announced that the island would be completely gone by the 1990’s, but they had no idea of the power of one single-minded individual.

Isn’t it funny how single-mindedness seems to be ignited by a powerful spark, often in the strangest confluences of circumstance?

The amazing man we introduce you to today – Jadav “Molai” Payeng –  was inspired to save his island at age 16 by the death of a large number of snakes after a flood that washed them onshore. They immediately perished for lack of shelter from the relentless sun, because there were no trees left on the island. The scene inspire young Molai to contact the local forest department.

Upon hearing that the situation was hopeless, he did the obvious thing in the face of despair: he got busy.

He began by planting 15 bamboo seedlings. The rest of the story is a beautiful testament to the power of one person and one first step.

And how do we even know about this one man’s 40 years of toil? Because of a photographer/journalist named Jitu Kalita, and then a film-maker named William D. McMaster, both single-mindedly followed their passions.

Today’s article demonstrates how things might work in the future: wins all the way around, for innovators, artists, business, and communities.

First up, let’s see how award-winning films about little-known thought-leaders are made:

So that’s how it works: a local journalist/photographers stumbles on an unsung hero, writes the story that eventually finds its way to the awareness of a film-maker, who finds a sponsor in an eco-friendly clothing-maker. And then even more extraordinary yet ordinary people around the world get to help fund the project through Kickstarter. The Kickstarter goal was $6,000 and more than $8,000 was raised.

Could be a great model!

I am reminded of a little verse from Edward Everitt Hale from 1884, and as all truly wise advice, it seems to have stood the test of time.

Look up and not down;
Look out and not in.
Look forward and not back;
Lend a hand!

– Edward Everitt Hale

Now that seems to encapsulate a good way forward.

Let’s enjoy the whole story of The Forest Man through a beautiful short film that has won many awards:

Inspiring, huh?

Let’s go out today with an even more personal look at the man whose perseverance has been a gift to his neighbors, wildlife, and a host of beneficiaries we may never realize.

Here’s a short piece with more from Maloi, in his own words.

Lovely. What a teacher.

Here’s one more dash of wisdom from Edward Everitt Hale that seems to be a fitting close to today’s article:

I am only one,

But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

– Edward Everett Hale

Have a great day. See you tomorrow for another look at the insights and innovations still abundant in our world.

Stay open, curious and optimistic!

~ Dr. Lynda

meet some more great innovators!

We have featured a lot of great innovators here at EWC and whether you are looking for a little inspiration or just need a reason to look forward to the future I suggest you head over to our Innovation Category where you will find all our articles featuring ideas and people worth celebrating!

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