The Fifth Happy Move Global Youth Volunteers Corps, which recently had its launching ceremony at the HMGC headquarters in Korea, headed to Inner Mongolia on July 11 to plant seeds of life in Chakkannor. The Chakkannor Lake in Inner Mongolia has dried up due to the destruction of the local ecology and has been identified as a major source of the massive sand dust storms that affect China, Korea and Japan every spring. The situation is deteriorating as time goes by, and the desert is spreading rapidly in and around the region. Chakkan’ means white and ‘nor’ means a lake. Mongolians hold lakes as sacred sources of life, and cherish the color white as a color of the divine that bring about peace and comfort. That is why Mongolians do not wash their feet or hands in lakes. Experts think it will be impossible to restore the original lake in the region, but believes the rapid spread of desert may be slowed down by planting trees in the lake to turn it into a prairie.
The Happy Move volunteers walked up along the Great Wall of China before entering Inner Mongolia. They knew it would be impossible to finish walking along the entire wall in the given period of time, but by making each stem they were reminded of the hard work and the noble cause involved in their volunteer work. Han Jong-chan, a volunteer, said of the eperience: “It became harder and harder as we went farther and farther up along the wall, but we were happy to be heading somewhere higher. I think volunteerism is essentially the same: the work might get more difficult and tiring over time, but it will also fulfill us with a sense of achievement and pride as we do something noble and honorable not only for ourselves but for other people.” Yang Eunsuk, manager of Eco Peace Asia, said: “I was at first worried because the weather did not seem so promising, but now I am happy to see the volunteers enjoying the experience. The farther up they go, the more of the beautiful surrounding scenery they can watch. They will feel similarly accomplished by the end of their experience in Chakkannor in Inner Mongolia.”
As the volunteers entered Inner Mongolia, the sky cleared up to shine in its uncompromising blue color, while the temperature was also a bit higher. The region is extremely dry, so there was not much sweat on the skin, but the volunteers began to get worried that they might get tanned by the end of their activity. Most volunteers wore long-sleeved shirts or arm socks while planting the seeds around, while covering the lower halves of their faces with masks or towels. The region was a desolate piece of desert, with nothing in sight except harsh dust worked up by sandy winds. That is why these young people were here: to calm down the rash desert and prevent its spread with seeds of new life and new plants. Chu Gyeong-shik, a volunteer, said: “I would love to come back here in twenty years, possibly with a son then, and brag about how I helped to plant all these trees. By then I wish I could ride on the back of a horse through the green prairie.”
What they planted in Chakkannor is “gambong,” which is also referred to as ‘namunjae’ in Korea and used in herbal medicine. The plant can withstand highly alkaline soil and helps to detoxify the soil itself. Once these plants grow, the soil is fundamentally changed in its character and is ready to accommodate the growth of other plants as well. Planting these trees would be the most scientific, environment-friendly way to stop the spread of desert throughout Chakkannor.