A man who was thought to be possessed has turned out to be the hero of his village after 30 years of hard work.
Laungi Bhuiya is a diligent man from eastern India who spent nearly three decades digging an irrigation canal that would supply fresh water to his dried-up village.
While all the residents of Kothilwa, a village that is home to some 750 people belonging to the Dalit community – the lowest sector of the country’s caste system, believed that the man was on a hopeless mission, Mr. Bhuiya proved everyone wrong as he made news nationwide.
As the man’s wife, Ramrati Devi, explained, she was trying to deter her husband from his goal for thirty years in order to get him to focus on working and providing for his family. Despite doing everything in her power to stop the man from digging, Devi was unable to dissuade Bhuiya from pursuing his dream.
The man, who is now in his 70s, first embarked on what seemed like an impossible mission nearly thirty years ago after struggling with lack of water for irrigation, Al Jazeera reported.
And so, he started digging an irrigation canal using nothing but his hands and basic tools in hopes of leading freshwater all the way from nearby Bangetha Hills to his village.
“I was always angry with him for not caring about the children. There was never any money, never enough food,” Devi said in an interview with Al Jazeera.
As the news outlet confirmed, the man’s family at one point even called an exorcist thinking that his obsession with digging a canal was due to being possessed.
Despite pressure from all sides, Bhuiya continued digging for nearly three decades until his canal was already almost two miles long. Sadly, the senior man was forced to stop digging just over half a mile away from his village due to his inability to bring the water uphill to his village.
Fortunately, the news of the hardworking man’s achievement reached journalist Jai Prakash who decided to see the canal for himself.
“He had dug a minor canal for irrigation. He said it took him nearly 30 years, so we went on my motorcycle to see it,” the journalist told Al Jazeera.
After Bhuiya’s story made it into local news, various politicians, activists, and government workers paid the man a visit to learn more.
Eventually, the story also reached Water Minister Sanjay Jha who ordered that the hand-dug canal made by Bhuiya is extended all the way to the man’s village. In addition, the man and his family also received substantial financial support thanks to a $1,360 cheque by Mankind Pharma.
“We used to think he was possessed. Things have changed now. We have some money we got because of his work,” Bhuiya’s son, Brahmdeo, expressed.
As Al Jazeera reported, the residents of Kothilwa now not only praise the diligent man for his achievement but they also asked Jitan Ram Manjhi, the former Chief Minister of the state of Bihar, to build a road and a hospital in Bhuiya’s name.
As Manjhi promised during his visit to the village, Bhuiya would get recognized by none other than the president of India himself.
Meanwhile, the locals have decided to call Bhuiya, who was previously known as a madman, the ‘River Man’ and the ‘Water Man’.
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