18 May 2022

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Mom plants 2 million trees in desert to fulfill son’s last wish

Yi Jiefang carries saplings in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region where the desert’s deep sand prevents vehicles from entering.

A 67-year-old woman has planted more than 2 million trees in the dessert in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the past 12 years to fulfill her son’s dying wish, thepaper.cn reported.

Now Yi Jiefang has set her sights on greening 8.7 square kilometers in the vast Alxa Desert.

Rows of trees now stand in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region where in 2008 there was only sand. Photo: thepaper.cn

Yi explained her green thumb was inspired by the wishes of her late son, Yang Ruizhe, who died in 2000 in a traffic accident in Japan, where he was attending university.

Yi recalls that her son began seeing green after watching a news report on the battle against desertification in North China.

“He told me, after I graduate college I want to return home and plant trees, a whole forest,” Yi said.

Pictured are trees planted in 2010 in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Photo: thepaper.cn

With the money raised from selling houses in Shanghai, their son’s insurance policy and other compensation, Yi and her husband, Yang Antai, established Green Life, a non-profit dedicated to tree planting projects in Inner Mongolia.

“We can’t take a penny with us when we leave this world. But if we use money to plant trees, it stays in the world forever,” said Yi.

Through planting trees, Yi also seeks to plant seeds of hope for those who have experienced the pain of losing a child.

“I’ve talked and cried with many families into the night,” explained Yi. “Afterward, I’ve taken them with me to plant trees.”

“It’s a way to help those families through their grief, and turn their feelings from negative to positive,” she said.

Courtesy: Global Times