78-year-old Tajik man donates yak to local primary school in NW China’s Xinjiang once every year for a decade

(People's Daily Online) 15:58, December 01, 2021

It is the 10th consecutive year since Amir Mehmetsabir, a man of the Kazak ethnic group, has donated a yak to a local primary school as a source of meat consumed by students in the Tashkurgan Tajik autonomous county in Kashgar prefecture, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The reason why he has stuck to this routine is that he wants to repay the kindness he received when he was young.

Amir Mehmetsabir on his way to his livestock ranch located along a winter pasture. (Photo/Tahirjan Kerimjan)

Yak breeding is a characteristic industry of the Tashkurgan Tajik autonomous county, with yaks being an important source of material well-being for the Kazak people.

In 2017, Mehmetsabir left his home, which was located in a winter pasture, for a house that had easy access to water and electricity as well as convenient transportation, leaving the livestock he left behind to be tended by his eldest son during the winter season. “When winter came, I would go to the livestock ranch, choose the best yak and then deliver it to the school,” said the 78-year-old, who regards this activity as the most important job of his and therefore believes he must do it himself.

Photo shows a deep valley in Datong township. (Photo/Tahirjan Kerimjan)

Mehmetsabir’s village is located in the hinterland on the Pamir Plateau where the villages are separated by mountains and rivers. It takes Mehmetsabir three hours to arrive at the winter pasture from his home. “Due to my poor eyesight, my children insisted that I don’t go to the winter pasture this year,” Mehmetsabir said. So this year, Mehmetsabir’s eldest son was to take the yak to a designated place first where he and his father could meet half-way to hand over the livestock.

As the recipient of the yaks over the years, the primary school located in Datong township in the same county currently has 116 students, including 49 kindergarten children. The school provides accommodations and catering services for 50 students whose families live far away. “I’m delighted that I can do something for the students,” Mehmetsabir expressed.

Amir Mehmetsabir and his family members guide yaks down from the mountain. (Photo/Tahirjan Kerimjan)

“Uncle Amir is growing old and his eyesight is bad, but he still managed to adhere to his routine every year. Before finally arriving at the pasture, he had to cross a river and climb a mountain, with the round-trip taking two to three days,” said a local official from a village in Datong township.

“At this time of the year, we will receive a yak given to us by Mehmetsabir. We appreciate this gift very much and are deeply touched,” said the principal of the primary school. “Yaks are the most valuable assets for herders. All of my children, who are students at the primary school, have eaten meat from the yaks sent to us by Mehmetsabir,” said a local herder.

Photo shows a group photo of Amir Mehmetsabir (middle) and students at a primary in Datong township. (Photo/Tahirjan Kerimjan)

In 1999, a flood hit Mehmetsabir’s hometown, destroying the crops, fruits and houses. “We were desperate and grieved by this until we saw officials in our township bringing us flood relief materials, offering us timely and considerate aid,” the man recalled. “My grandfather told me that I must be a thankful and helpful person when I grow up, and remember to repay the kindness I received from the government,” said Mehmetsabir, adding that he will stick to the routine for the rest of his life.

Photo shows students at a primary school in Datong township in the middle of a class. (Photo/Tahirjan Kerimjan)

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)


Related Stories