March 25, 2020

Inspiration for the day

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Devaki Amma, Kollakkayil, Puthiyavila in Kandalloor Panchayat near Kayamkulam, Alappuzha

When Devaki Amma planted the first sapling in their family land at Kollakkayil, Puthiyavila in Kandalloor Panchayat near Kayamkulam, Alappuzha, more than four decades ago, her aim was very small, like the sapling that was planted.  She who had been an enthusiastic participant in the family paddy cultivation, was incapacitated by an accident and had to spend three years confined to her home.  So, the first sapling she planted was more like a substitute for her thwarted paddy cultivation dreams.

But like all tiny acts with intense desire and goodwill, this act of hers too did not fail to put on leaves and spread its branches.  Slowly, over the years, she planted more and more saplings that grew into a thick natural forest in five acres of her land.  I never thought at that time that this would become a forest, she says.

Her husband was a teacher who would bring seeds and saplings for her labour of love.  Now her children and grandchildren also pitch in with their contributions in developing and maintaining the forest.

Over 3000 trees thrive in her land.  Teak, mahagony, tamarind, mango, bamboo etc. are some of them.  She uses only natural fertilizers and manure and makes use of rain water harvesting.  Common and exotic birds find a welcome habitat in her forest.  And Devaki Amma cares for them by providing them nests instead of putting up nets to keep them away.

At 85, she is now unable to plant saplings.  But she makes it a point to take a stroll of at least 10 minutes in her forest every day.  Now that she cant tend the trees, she talks to them.

She was awarded Nari Shakti Puraskar by the President of India in 2019.

Her daughter, Thankamony, who was the head of environmental engineering at College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram has also made her mark in environmental activism and preservation by her work in the college campus.




Gopi Karelia (text), thebetterindia.com, March 19, 2019


''Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."