The man who moved a mountain

“True love lived always includes your neighbor. It can never be selfish or exclusive.”   
Evan Mehlenbacher

He was among India’s poorest of poor. He decided, if those in power would not help his people, he would. This is a man who believed in the Do-It-Yourself spirit! Without pausing for a thought, he went ahead and did just that with his bare hands. This is the story of Dashrath Manjhi:  the man who moved a mountain, so his people could have access to amenities such as hospitals, schools and jobs in nearest town.

It was 1960. Landless laborers, the Musahars lived amid rocky terrain in the remote Atri block of Gaya, Bihar, in northern India. In the hamlet of Gehlour, they were regarded the lowest of the low in a caste-ridden society, and denied the basics: water supply, electricity, a school, a medical center. A 300- foot tall mountain loomed between them and civilization.  Dashrath’s wife became ill and she died during the 55 km trek around the mountain to the nearest hospital. To honor her he decided to carve a road through the mountain.

Like all the unskilled Musahar men, Dashrath Manjhi, worked on the other side of the mountain. As they had no road, the trek took hours. During the day, Dashrath tilled fields for a land owner. Afterwards he would climb to the top, and start chipping away at the mountain with  a hammer, chisel, and crowbar he bought after selling his goats.

After 22 years, Dashrath Manjhir had conquered the mountain: he had carved out a road 360 feet long, 30 feet wide. The nearest city, Wazirganj, with its doctors, jobs, and school, was now only 5 kilometers away. People from 60 villages in Atri could use his road.

On August 17, 2007, Dashrath Manjhi, lost his battle with cancer. All that he had done was for no personal gain. “I started this work out of love for my wife, but continued it for my people. If I did not, no one would.”

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