China: Yuzhen Yin

I would rather die of fatigue from fighting the sand than be bullied by the sand and wind.

— Yuzhen Yin

Yin Yuzhen has worked with an indomitable spirit for years, turning desert area into an oasis with more than 300,000 trees over nearly 10,000 acres. Seeking expert advice, with various other resources and by holding family symposiums, she created a scientific method for effective sand area restoration.

In 1985, Yin Yuzhen, a 20-year-old woman from Shannxi province, married and moved into the interior of Mu Us Desert in Inner Mongolia to an area named Jingbei Tang in Wushenqi. The adverse natural conditions were unimaginable and the sand was ubiquitous. All that they saw, touched, stepped on, at home or outside, was sand. The wind blew the grains into the nostrils, ears and mouth; when the storm stopped, the deadly silence was haunting; only Yin and her husband lived in that area. The second day of her arrival, she made up her mind to fight the aridity to death and not be oppressed by the abominable conditions. In the second spring of her marriage, Yin began to dig irrigation ditches for water. But the storm blew away the ditches. In the winter she bundled the sunflower stems to prevent the wind from destroying them. The following spring she dug ditches, planting 5,000 willow trees. However, the grains again destroyed her efforts. Learning from her failures she discovered scientific methods of planting trees and enabling them to survive. For over ten years, Yin Yuzhen has fought the tough weather conditions of the desert and has overcome the storms, the shifting sand and other difficulties such as the hard working conditions, inconvenient transportation and inadequate funds. She performed the miracle of preventing and controlling sand over a total area of 10,000 acres and discovered an advanced scientific method of sand prevention, which is effective for the local conditions. Never discouraged by failure, she has not only improved her living conditions and changed her fate but also motivated many peasants and herdsmen to join her in afforesting the desert. She has made an immense contribution to the project of sand control and prevention in China.