November 28, 2021

Inspiration for the day

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Jayasree, Kunnam, Mavelikkara

From bewilderment to criticism: these were the natural reactions of relatives and friends to her effort to plant saplings of teak and other trees in her 56 cents of land.  But what started as one woman’s ‘Project Happiness’ in her own land, is now helping those around her in the village Kunnam in Mavelikkara with plenitude of water.

Jayasree was married at the age of 18 and spent the next 8 years of her life at Qatar where her husband was employed.  After coming back to the greenery of Kerala, she could not fail to notice that the area around her home was barren.

She went to a nearby nursery, bought a teak sapling and planted it. There was a forest of protests from well-meaning relatives who advised her about planting some cash yielding crop like tapioca to augment income.  But she did not relent.  She was soon to discover the intangible benefits of her uncommon effort.

Her elder son was diagnosed with autism.  Many sessions with many experts later, she lost hope that he would speak to them.  It was then that the forest became her happiness project.

The next tragedy struck her in 2008, when her 55 year old husband died.  Her two sons were young then and she had no one to turn to.  She then dedicated her time and energy to building the forest. Among her trees are teak, mahagony, wild jackfruit, mango and banyan.  Besides, she has planted medicinal plants also.

20 years down the line, the neighbours are all praise for her woman-made forest, which helps to replenish the ground water table.  Earlier they had to dig 16 ringed well to obtain water.  But now even in summer water is plenty.

Besides rudimentary supply of cow dung from neighbours, she does nothing to maintain the forest.  Dead leaves are the sustaining manure.  And the trees sustain the Happiness Project.


Serene Sara Zachariah (text), thebetterindia, June 9, 2020



“Time spent among trees is never wasted.”