Albert Sagan for Art-Sheep
The now profuse and delightfully green, tree-filled patch of land in China’s Yeli village in the county of Jingxing, Hebei, was once a barren land with only rocks and weeds. It took 12 years for the place to transform into what it looks like today and it’s all thanks to the dedicating efforts of two friends, Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi. Haixia is blind and Wenqi a double amputee with no arms. Their disabilities didn’t stop them, though, from planting thousands of trees for more than 10 years now. Haixia and Wenqi wanted to help protect and preserve the ecology that surrounds their village.
Jia Haixia, who is 53 years old today, was born with congenital cataracts, leaving his left eye blind. In 2000, he was involved in an accident at work, which resulted in him losing his other eye and becoming permanently blind. Jia Wenqi, also 53, had an accident when he was 3 years old that cost him both his arms. After Haixia lost his sight, it became even more difficult for the two friends to secure jobs so they set out to plant trees for the future generations, by leasing 8 acres of land near the riverbank from the local government.
For over ten years, the two friends wake up every morning at 7am and take off for their day’s labour. Haixia and Wenqi are poor men and don’t have enough money to buy saplings, so they rely on the cuttings from grown trees which they replant and create new life. During this time of working closely together, Wenqi and Haixia have learned how to overcome the difficulties their disabilities bring. They managed that through synergy: Wenqi carries Haixia on his back when they cross the rushing river and then Haixia climbs the trees to cut off the boughs that will be planted in the holes he will dig in the ground. Then, Wenqi takes over the care of the saplings by watering them. The two friends have planted thus an estimated of more than 10,000 trees in over a decade.
The efforts of the two friends have not gone unnoticed and they are now receiving help from fellow human beings who are donating in order for them to have a pension to support themselves financially. Also, an article from Xinhua News Agency reports that Haixia may be able to regain his sight thanks to an operation a team of doctors are willing to perform free of charge.