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Phurbu Namgyal takes 40 years to plant more than 4,500 trees
By:China Tibet News
update:October 14,2019
Oct.14,2019 -- In Gyexiong Village of Chewa Town, Rinbung County, Xigaze City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the story of 89-year-old Phurbu Namgyal who leads his family to plant trees for four generations has become a household story.
 
"Gyexiong" means "desert valley" in Tibetan language. Driving along the Yarlung Zangbo River from Chewa Town to Gyexiong Village, the road is full of green. A few decades ago, Gyexiong Village was in such bad condition that all the crops planted in the spring would be destroyed by a big sand storm.
 
Though with gray hair, Phurbu Namgyal's voice is loud. He has planted more than 4,500 trees in the past 40 years, bringing green to Gyexiong Village.
 
At the beginning of the reform and opening up, the state has advocated planting trees to improve the ecological environment. Gyexiong Village, more than 3,800 meters above sea level, is located in the middle of the mountain. Due to lack of rain, it is not easy for the trees to survive. Many of the villagers give up, but Phurbu Namgyal keeps going. The old man has been to school when he is young, therefore, reading books and newspapers is not a problem for him. Knowing that other places are full of green mountains from the newspapers, while his hometown is full of wastelands, he feels that he should do something for his hometown.
 
At the beginning, due to poor living condition, there is no spare money to buy seeds of trees. In addition, in the way of planting trees, Phurbu Namgyal consults to other people, learning cuttage and transplanting.
 
It is easy to plant a tree but difficult to grow up. People of Gyexiong Village has been raising cattle and sheep for generations. Young saplings can not withstand the nibble of cattle and sheep. Once the saplings are nibbled, Phurbu Namgya will replant. He takes care of the trees as if they are his children, encircling the small trees with spiky stings, and wrapping the larger ones in old clothes.
 
Watering a tree is a big problem when it grows. Fewer trees are planted at first. Phurbu Namgya and his family carry water from the ditch to water trees. Slowly more tree are planted, it takes half a month to a month to water the trees. The family are very tired. Later the family tires to dig a ditch to lead down the mountain stream, so watering becomes more easier.
 
The children of Phurbu Namgya are very supportive of planting trees. During the slack farming season, the family works together to plant trees. Now that the children are grown and the grandchildren have graduated from colleges and gone to work, they still come back during the holidays, and the two granddaughters who live in Nyingchi always bring back some seeds of trees.
 
Previously , Phurbu Namgya mainly plants some local tree species adapted to the climate and easy to live, such as Tibetan poplar, willow and so on. Later, he has tried some other trees, which grow a little slower than the local trees, but gradually adapt to the climate.
 
Phurbu Namgya is getting old and he plants only eight trees this year. Though his children and grandchildren have taken over the job of planting trees, the old man is always restless, often going to inspect his trees and cleaning up the weeds around the trees. His children and grandchildren repeatedly advise him not to go out, and promise to take care of the trees, but the old man always worries about the trees and sees them every day.
 
Now the living conditions are good, the family is not worried about food and clothing. There is an orchard behind the old man's yard. Fruit trees including apple, peach, plum, grape, persimmon and strawberry are planted. Some of the fruits will be eaten by the family, and others will be sold or given to neighbors. Phurbu Namgya is the first people in the village to plant a living fruit tree. Next to the orchard, there is a peach tree that the old man has planted when he is 15 years old. Now the tree has three or four branches, each of which is too thick for anyone to carry. When the  villagers are tired, they will rest on the big rock under the tree.
 
At the beginning, people in the village think Phurbu Namgya is a bit silly when he plants trees. One year has passed, two years have passed... The trees in the village grow up, and the village becomes green. Gradually, the village appearance changes greatly. Under the influence of Phurbu Namgya, the villagers not only join in planting trees, but also take the initiative to inform other villagers to plant trees to prevent and control sand. Nowadays, even in the spring when the wind is strong, there will be no sand in the village. Besides, the village has also set up a tree planting cooperative. Each member of the cooperative need to plant seven trees a year. From 2008 to now, the village has planted more than 466 hectares of trees.
 
With a better environment, people's life in the village is getting better day by day. Every family lives in a Tibetan building, and modern home appliances such as TV, refrigerator and microwave oven have been popularized. In 2018, the per capita net income of the whole village has reached more than 7,000 yuan RMB.
 
Ecological progress is vital to people's well-being and the future of the Chinese nation, as well as an important part of the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. On the road of ecological civilization construction, it needs every citizen's conscious and real protection action. For decades, Phurbu Namgya has changed the appearance of the village with his actions, and also influenced the people of Gyexiong Village.
 
By:Liu Fang, Zhi Xinghua
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