Eco Warriors
A Sacred Space
-By Rani Iyer

If I tell you that Abdul Kareem is an angel, you would laugh it off. But if I took you to his 'sacred forest' in Nileswar, you would agree. About 25 years ago, Abdul Kareem purchased a barren hillock and planted them with local species. He watered the plants that he had planted in the crevices of laterite soil, and guarded them from grazing animals. As a testimony to his efforts, it stands as a forest today.
Nileswar is a small town on the NH7 between Kasargod and Payyanur in Kerala. Abdul Kareem was born here in 1947. In 1970, Abdul Kareem, on the threshold of a career move to the Gulf, chanced upon the barren hillsides. It caused him heartache to see the hills in distress. It was then that he decided that he would 'establish a Kavu (sacred grove)'.

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"I had been told of them as a child," he thought. When he purchased some barren land for his project, he was a laughing stock. The well on the property would take hours to recharge after yielding five liters a draw.
Abdul Kareem decided to listen to his instincts. He began to chase his dream of a Kavu by planting a few native species in the lateritic crevices. To water them in summer he fetched water from a distance in cans tied to his motorbike. For the first three summers, he ferried water and planted more saplings. Much to the distress of his family, he bought more land. He had a local business that helped him take such risks.
Still Abdul Kareem listened to his heart. In the third year, nature sent a feedback. To his amazement, the water level in the well rose. Taking that as an encouraging sign, he began to plant a variety of saplings available in the wild. He chose not to interfere with the results, and watched nature take over her operation. Weeds, herbs, medicinal plants, and climbers began to grow. The saplings grew into a canopy and invited birds, animals, and mammals to be a part of the process. But Abdul Kareem was gratified when the water table rose in villages within a 10 km radius. Never once weeding, lopping, sweeping, hunting, or even selecting the species, Abdul Kareem watched over the forest of his dreams. He lives in a house, without paper or plastic, built in the forest. He believes that world would be a better place if people took time to watch the tremendous rejuvenating power of nature and experience its generous spirit.



User's Comments                     
atreyee day
This is truly an inspiring story. It shows that faith in one's instincts when no one else believes in you - can often lead to miracles such as Abdul Kareem's forest.
Sameer Kumar
I want urgently the address of Abdul Kareem, Please send it to me as soon possible. I have got his nomination from somewhere for Awards, I want to know him in order to Grade him after talking to him. My Cell No. is 09818917218. Coordinator , Red & White Bravery Awards, New Delhi
sarah wilkinson
I was very moved by this story and have scoured the internet for more news about his amazing achievement. I work for Positive News and I would love to write his story in our newspaper for all our 100,000 readers across the world. My colleague has sent an email. We are hoping for a reply.
Balu
I am a student of 6th std surprised to hear about such a good protector of our Mother Nature.
Rajan Kuttamath
I have personally gone to Abdul Kareem's forest along with 38 students of my nature club in order to give them direct experience and inspire them for nature conservation.It is unconditional commitment to preserving mother nature that has made a man stand above those who speak a lot for media exposure.The water table is amazing.The coolness of the forest is soothing.Abdul Kareem gives you confidence that the life of posterity is ensured because of the selfless work of such noble human beings.
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