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One Man Who Made a Difference

Added by Holger Bergner on October 25, 2012. · No Comments · Share this Post

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Photo credit: Kadavoor via Photopin Creative Commons

Abdul Kareem is one man who hasn’t waited on anybody else. With few resources at his disposal, he has changed his part of the world, day by day and step by patient step.

Guest blog by Christian Hunt, October 25, 2012:

Sustaining the environment has become a serious concern of nearly every nation, and debates on how to best achieve this are continuous and often contentious. Overwhelmed by the complexity of the issue, most of us look to scientists and others with more knowledge and resources to find solutions.

Abdul Kareem is one man who hasn’t waited on anybody else. If you were to visit him at his home in southern India, you would see acresof rich forest with abundant wildlife. In a part of the world where water is often in short supply, his land and the villages around it have no such problem. But it hasn’t always been that way. Twenty-five years ago, the area was a series of dry, rocky, lifeless hills.

Kareem was strangely drawn to the area during visits to his wife’s family, who lived there. “I would walk around the area and see barren hillsides,” he recalls. “It was a heartache of a sight, and yet the pull on me was strong. I suddenly realized that I had often—though only for brief moments—dreamt of the Kaavu of India’s collective memory. They were the Sacred Groves that every village had once upon a time. I had been told of them as a child. I think I had subconsciously yearned for one.”

On an impulse, he bought five acres. In spaces between rocks, he planted saplings of trees native to the region. The well on the property barely yielded a bucketful of water at a time, so for three summers Kareem used a motorbike to haul water from a source a kilometer (about 2/3 mile) away. During this time he also bought adjoining land from neighbors who were happy to exchange their desolate properties for cash.

The fourth year, Kareem’s efforts began to pay off. The new vegetation, sparse as it was, helped his land retain more rainwater. The water level in his well rose, and that made it possible for him to gradually plant and tend the rest of his property, which had grown to nearly 13 hectares (32 acres). The transformation was slow but steady. As the saplings grew, birds flocked to the area and sowed the seeds of a variety of other plants. A natural revival was underway. Year by year, more vegetation grew, more wildlife arrived, and the water table continued to rise. As a result, other wells within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of Kareem’s now also have more water. With few resources at his disposal, Kareem has changed his part of the world, day by day and step by patient step.


Photo credit: Kadavoor via Photopin Creative Commons

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