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Why Did This Farmer Study Law for 16 Years?

Shigraf Zahbi
Shigraf Zahbi
Wan Enlin's 16 year-long battle began when his home was destroyed by toxic waste.

Why did a farmer study law for 16 years? Wan Enlin’s story will amaze you, inspire you, but most of all would rekindle your belief in will-power and determination.  

Wan Enlin is a farmer from Yushutun village in China. He had studied only up to third grade and at the tender age of ten years, he decided to quit school in order to help his family which worked in the fields. 

Despite working, Enlin still read books in his spare time. Perhaps it was this part of him which encouraged him fight the biggest battle of his life.

Enlin and his family witnessed the nightmare of every farmer: their crops stopped being healthy. Elin investigated the cause and found out that the reason for crop failure was the contamination caused by a chemical company located nearby. The company, Qihua Chemical Groups, is one of the most important companies in China. Backed by the Chinese government, it is valued at $300 million.  

What Would You Do If a Giant Destroyed Your Home? 

In 2001, Enlin and his friends were celebrating on the Eve of Lunar New Year. Suddenly, he saw that his house was flooded with toxic waste from the chemical company. The same water had also flooded his fields. The worse imaginable thing happened: Enlin fields were rendered too polluted to be suited for any agriculture practiced by the waste water.  

What could Enlin, a school dropout, do against a multi-million, giant organization? Anybody would assume that he must have resigned to his fate and continued with his life. However, that is not what happened. Enlin first decided to write a letter to authorities but to no avail. He did not have concrete evidence to prove the truth. So he decided to do it the hard way. What Enlin did was educate himself for 16 long years to take the matter to a court of law.  

He borrowed law books and even read those in foreign languages to understand how similar cases were fought and won. To understand these books written in a different tongue, he relied on a dictionary.  

In the year 2007, a Chinese law firm came to his side and decided to give him free legal advice. They filed a petition to a court the same year. In 2015, 8 years after the petition was filed, his case was finally heard in the court. Another 2 years passed before a decision was finally made on his case. This makes his fight 16 years long!  

The Giant Does Not Always Win 

The case was decided in the favour of Enlin and his villagers. The court ordered the chemical company to pay people from Yushutun village a sum of 8,20,000 Yuan (about 93,79,057 INR). The battle was long and difficult for Enlin but eventually he emerged as a winner. This again proves that a giant does not always win. Sometimes, even a single person is enough to defeat it.  

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