How Planting Trees Help Grandpa Dulah Overcome Loneliness

dulah plants trees in kebumen

It is not new for parents living in villages to let their children migrate to big cities to try to improve their lives. Some of their children returned to the village and some are chosen to stay there. Grandpa Dulah (64 years old) from Gunungsari village, Kebumen – Central Java, was no exception, his children were chosen to live overseas.  

For years, his children and grandchildren have not been able to return to the village because of Covid-19 case, it is not easy to meet them on this situation. He explained that usually his grandchildren come home once a year, but now he doesn’t know for sure. He hopes Ramadhan this year the whole family can be together again.  

At first, Granpa Dulah and his wife couldn’t handle how much they missed their daughters and grandchildren and were desperate to visit with them but because of pandemic they had to cancel it (covid-19 restriction). At that time Covid-19 was increased and old people were asked to be more concerned.  

”We miss them”.  

“The house feels lonely without them so I’d rather work even though I’m old,” he added.   

In the past, Grandpa Dulah retired to be a farmer but that made him even more lonely and his longing for his children and grandchildren was unstoppable. He decided to be active again planting on his abandoned landbecause there was no one to take care of it. 

Dulah plants trees in kebumen

”If I don’t work, my mind goes all over the place, but then they offered seedlings.” 

 ”I planted a few for the beginning then gradually it continued and now my land is full”, he offers. 

Currently he will continue to plant because by planting he can divert his longing and loneliness. He said he planted for his grandchildren, one day they will harvest it and every time they harvest it they will remember me who was planted the trees.   

Grandpa Dulah said that his grandchildren are very interested in agriculture because from a young age he often took them to the field.  

”I often took them (the grandchildren) to the field, to plant cassavas, corns, look for grasses”.  

”they were happy… and that moment will always be remembered”.  

Then we asked if he still wants seedlings next year knowing his land is already full? And grandpa Dulah hopes that he will be able to plant more trees in the future. He said that even though his land is full, he would plant trees on his neighbour’s arid lands. 

We learn that planting is something that helps Grandpa Dulah overcome with loneliness and build his memory of his loved ones as Grandpa Dulah is getting older and sometimes forgetful.   

Grandpa Dulah has a message for those who still have parents, he says ”don’t forget to ask how your parents are”.   

Sometimes the impact of our program is beyond our expectations and cannot be seen but felt. There’s a quote, who plants a tree, plants a hope, and we’re watching and listening to it right in front of us.  

Maybe if we hadn’t visited Grandpa Dulah and had a chat with him we wouldn’t have known what he’s been through. We were very lucky to have met him, we hope that Grandpa Dulah can be together with his whole family this year. 


Vironica Arnila 12-Aug-22

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