Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi are 53 year-old men with disabilities. Mr. Haixia is blind and Mr. Wenqi has had his both arms amputated. Despite their disabilities, they form a great team that makes a huge difference. They have worked together for 10 years and have managed to plant 10,000 trees in a rural area in Hebei, China. They deserve to be called eco-warriors and heroes for their incredible efforts and amazing deed!
10 years ago, these men decided to team up and start their work together. This happened after they both couldn’t find jobs due to their physical incapability. Happily, they have managed to think of a unique way to pair up and make a difference. ‘I am his hands and he is my eyes,’ says Mr. Haixia. With each other’s help, they succeeded in transforming a three-hectare stretch of riverbank, despite the intensive and hard work planting trees requires.
Mr. Wenqi is a 53-year old man who had lost his both arms when he was only a 3-year old. Mr. Haixa is also 53 and was born with an eyesight problem. His condition is called congenital cataracts which affected his sight with his left eye, leaving it blind. Sadly, he lost sight with his right eye as well in a work accident. Both men’s unfortunate disabilities deprived them from finding secure jobs later in their lives. This is why in 2001 the eco-warriors leased from the government a large portion of a riverbank in a bid to plant trees for the generations to come. Plus, this action would contribute to the protection of their village from floods. Hoping for a modest income, they devoted their days to their work. They both leave their home at 7:00 in the morning carrying a hammer and an iron rod. But in order to start with their work, they have to pass through a river in order to get to the other side of it. To do this, Mr. Wenqi has to carry his blind friend every day.
Their working process is really interesting. As they don’t have enough money for saplings, they have to collect the cuttings which is not a simple task. They have come up with a unique and efficient technique that helps them optimize their work. As Mr. Haixa is the one who has to scale the trees, he climbs on his armless partners’ shoulders and guides him while he pulls himself through the tree branches. After climbing down, he digs a hole in the ground and plants the new cutting in the soil. It is Mr. Wenqi who takes care of the new saplings by watering them. Doing this for 10 years has resulted in the land being covered in thousands of new trees that attract a significant number of birds.
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‘Though we did not accomplish much in a dozen years, we recognize our effort,’ says Mr. Haixia. Mr. Wenqi adds: ‘We stand on our own feet. The fruits of our labor taste sweeter. Even though we are gnawing on steam buns, we find peace in our hearts.’