When driving through the Pacific Northwest, you’ll see fields and fields containing enormous tree farms. I had never seen this before in my life, but it is truly a sight to be seen. Rows of perfectly lined trees, growing to become massive trees that will someday be planted in their forever home. When driving past a stretch of land that is north of the Yeli Village in Sunzhuang Township, Jingxing County, Hebei, China, you’ll also see that it is green and filled with lush trees. However, just 12 short years before, this same land was nothing but rocks and weeds, being completely ignored by everyone around it. Well that all began to change when Jia Haixia and his friend Jia Wenqi took notice and decided to do something about it. They poured their heart and soul into this piece of land, and with their hard work and dedication, it has become something truly amazing. They have planted thousands of trees in order to preserve and protect the natural ecology of the land that is surrounding their village. The fact that they have planted so many trees is not even the most unbelievable part of this story.
What makes this story even more incredible is that both Haixia and Wendi are disabled. Haixia, who is 53 years old, was born with congenital cataracts that ended up leaving him blind in his left eye. Then in an accident at work, he became blind in his right eye.
Wenqi, who is also 53 years old, lost both of his arms in an accident at the young age of 3.
After Haixia became blind in both eyes, it was very difficult for both of these friends to find jobs. With no other options, they decided to lease eight acres of land that was located near a riverbank. They leased the property from the local government.
Their goal was to plant trees that would help future generations. Because of the location of these trees, and the hard work of these two men, they’ve helped save their village from flooding. And they also receive a modest income from government funding, which helps them survive.
Over time, the two friends have set up a schedule that works for both of them. They wake up at 7am, then head out to their land to start work for the day. Even though they are getting money from the government, it’s not enough to leave them very much extra money for things like saplings.
Without these saplings, they are forced to rely on taking cuttings from the grown trees and then planting them to create a new tree. They have worked and lived next to each others for years and have figured out ways to alleviate the stress of their disabilities.
Wengi will carry Haixia over the river on his back, while Haixia climbs to the top of the trees to cut off the boughs.
After climbing down from the tree, Haixia will dig holes into the ground to plant the cuttings. Then Wenqi will take care of the saplings by watering them.
They’ve estimated that over the last 10 years, they were able to plant at least 10,000 trees.
Because of their hard work and dedication, they have received a lot of attention and support after the local news helped their story go viral.
Some people have donated money so these two can continue to support their lifestyle and provide for their community.
And lucky for Haixia, a team of health care professionals have offered to help him regain the sight in his left eye thanks to an operation.
These best friends are truly working together to change the world, and it’s great to see that people are helping them continue on with this lifestyle.
These friends are such an inspiration on so many different levels. They are helping to improve their environment, for not only their village but also future generations. They are also giving each other endless amounts of support making sure their needs are fulfilled by working with each other so closely. While Haixia may not be able to see, I’m sure Wenqi makes sure he is given a detailed explanation of the world surrounding these two friends. After reading this, I definitely came to the realization that I should be doing more for not only myself, but my community as well as the world around me.
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” – Nathaniel Branden