Blind Man and His Armless Best Friend Have Planted Over 10,000 Trees in China
When we think ‘people with disabilities’, we often assume these are people who might be unable to live full lives. We assume ‘there is something missing’. Every now and then, we come across stories that break this mental construct and show us how capable persons with disabilities are of handling everything that we are. The story of Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi is certainly one of these.
Haixia and Wenqi are two 53-year-old men from China. Haixia was born with congenital cataracts that caused him to be blind in one eye. He lost the sight in the second eye after a work accident in 2000. Wenqi tragically lost both of his arms in an accident when he was three years old and has been living as a double amputee ever since. These two best friends have joined forces to help one another navigate the world, one complimenting the other’s disability, allowing both men to live their lives to the fullest.
The pair met in 2001 when they were both struggling to find work because of their disabilities. They decided to lease over eight acres of land near the riverbank from the local government with the goal of planting trees for future generations. Their noble objective has since helped protect their village from flooding, while also providing them with a steady revenue stream from government funding.
After years of living and laboring side by side, the close duo has created a routine that allows them to work together in order to overcome their individual disabilities. Wenqi often carries the sightless Haixia on his back across the rushing river, while Haixia climbs to the top of trees to cut off the boughs that will become new trees. After climbing back down, Haixia digs holes in the ground to plant the cuttings; it is then Wenqi’s job to take care of the growing saplings by watering them. With this unique system of teamwork, the friends estimate that they’ve planted over 10,000 trees in over a decade.
“We stand on our own feet,” Wenqi tells Oddity Central. “The fruits of our labor taste sweeter. Even though we are gnawing on steam buns, we find peace in our hearts.”