Saalumarada Thimmakka is 105 years young and still inspiring people of all generations with her incredible dedication to our planet. She’s planted approximately 300 trees, influenced by the fact that she and her late husband Sri Bikkala Chikkayya found themselves childless after 25 years of marriage. Hailing from rural Karnataka, southern India, the couple dealt with this sadness by nurturing, watering, and making the plants a part of their family.
Thimmakka explained their decision to cultivate trees to CNN. “It was my fate to not have any children,” she said. “Because of that, we planned to plant trees and raise them and get blessings. We have treated the trees as our children.” This heartwarming notion is especially impressive considering the environmental conditions they faced—the landscape is arid and has little rainfall. To properly care for the trees, the couple carried water for several kilometers. And just like a protective parent, Chikkayya planted thorny bushes to protect the bunch from animals.
Thimmakka’s selfless efforts have since received the attention they deserve. She has a foundation established in her name—called the Saalumarada Thimmakka International Foundation—that’s dedicated to conserving the environment as well as supporting schools, education, and providing healthcare for those in need.
After years of caring for her plant children, Thimmakka has someone to look after her in her advanced years—an adopted son named Sri Umesh. Continually inspired by her environmental efforts, he acts as president for her organization and runs a nursery that provides trees to farmers, carrying on her legacy for years to come.
Thimmakka and her adopted son.