He planted a tree every day for 40 years and transformed this island into a paradise.

He’s built an incredible oasis one tree at a time.

In 1979, 16-year-old Jadav Payeng was heartbroken when he spotted several snakes that had died from heat exhaustion on a desolate, Indian island.

“It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there,” he said. “They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me.”


He planted a few hundred bamboo trees to give other snakes a home and hasn’t stopped. Today, that island is a lush oasis of more than 1,360 acres.

After Payeng’s initial discovery, the government committed to a 5-year-long restoration project. After its completion, he stayed behind and kept planting trees.

Payeng carries a young tree to plant.

Payeng in the forest named after him.

Decades later, government officials visited the island when they were looking for elephant poachers and they discovered something incredible.

Payeng had singlehandedly transformed the once barren landscape into a beautiful island full of lush trees.

“People from all across the globe come here now because this forest amazes them,” he said.

And there were even more surprises to be found.

It’s now home to a number of exotic animals

Photo by Jugal Bharali/Wikicommons.

The island oasis has been renamed in his honor. And for planting more than 10,000 trees over 40 years, he definitely deserves recognition.

But the incredible transformation his efforts have brought extends far beyond the treeline.

The forest that once was literally a graveyard for stranded creatures is now home to over 100 elephants, Bengal tigers, rhinoceros, deer, rabbits and a number of species of birds. A number of baby elephants have even been born on the island, leading Indian officials to ensure it is a safe space free from poachers and other threats.

Payeng is a living legend. But his real legacy is how all of us can make a difference one small step at a time.

In 2014, William D. McMaster made a documentary called “Forest Man” about Peyeng. With is 40 year project largely complete, Payeng says he’d now like to expand it to other islands and vulnerable locations across India.

He’s already accomplished something truly incredible and it’s a reminder to everyone that we all can make a world of difference even with seemingly small gestures.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

As Canada's women's soccer team prepares for its gold medal match against Sweden this week in Tokyo, it also prepares to make history as the first Olympic team to have an openly transgender, non-binary athlete win a medal at the games.

Quinn, the 25-year-old midfielder, announced their non-binary identity on social media last September, adopting they/them pronouns and a singular name. Quinn said they'd been living openly as a transgender person with their loved ones, but this was their first time coming out publicly.

"I want to be visible to queer folks who don't see people like them on their feed. I know it saved my life years ago," they wrote. "I want to challenge cis folks ( if you don't know what cis means, that's probably you!!!) to be better allies."

Keep Reading Show less