In this age of late ’20s where adults like you and me are busy with our career chores and daily hangout plans, someone in the hills of the Himalayan region is doing a splendid job. The person is proving that age is just mere numbers in front of passion and dedication. The individual is Prabha Devi, a 76-year-old woman who has planted an entire forest on her own in her village. Even her age has not stopped her from working towards the conservation of the forest ecosystem and set an example for everyone there with her enigmatic energy and tireless efforts.
The small village of Parashat, in the district of Rudraprayag (Uttarakhand), where river Alaknanda and Mandakini meet, now has a forest entirely planted by Prabha Devi on a small land. Located a few kilometres away from her home, she walks to the forest every day and spends most of her time working there. The sight of tall trees is the real peace she craves for, as she has built a legacy for her upcoming generations as well as for the people of the village.
With her willpower and continuous work with dedication, she has planted more than 500 trees in her village. As the lover of nature, she has immense knowledge about hilly-trees and conditions required for their proper growth and plantation. She got married at the age of 16; she never got a chance to go to school and doesn’t know how to read or write. In spite of having so many voids in life, she proves herself more educated than us. She has been named as ‘friend of the tree‘ in the local Garhwali dialect by the village people, which she loves a lot.
“There was a steep increase in deforestation activities in and around our village. People want to construct new buildings or resorts after chopping trees, and the entire ecosystem of forests was getting disturbed. I felt sad to see the forests being mercilessly cut down for fulfilling the materialistic needs of humans. My family had a small piece of land that was left uncultivated. I started planted trees on that land and even around my home. Now, it has turned into a dense forest, and I aim to plant more trees on barren land” – Prabha Devi said.
The depletion in underground water table levels is a grave concern in hilly areas. Prabha Devi suggested some easy tricks with which these issues can be resolved. She recommended growing local species of trees such as ‘Baanj‘ in nearby regions which has the property of uplifting water levels. Near her home, the beautiful rhododendron trees, colourful shrubs and ‘Rudraksha‘ like trees can also be seen. The dedication with which Prabha Devi is continuously working, for the plantation drive, deserves a standing applaud.
Think and Rethink the journey this 76 years old lady has covered being an illiterate proves that mere degrees of some elite institution don’t drive you to do a noble cause.