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Dispatch from Makit: Thriving in the desert | Updated: 2021-05-27 14:06
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A journalist with the "A Date with China" international media tour conducts an interview at a site of ecological forestation in Makit county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on May 20, 2021. [Photo provided to]

Most importantly, the ecological project makes people's lives in Makit county so much easier.

Back at the jujube grove, local farmer Sulayman Ruzi was using long-handled shears to clip away the less developed branches. He has two hectares of jujube trees, which he manages along with his wife, which brought over 80,000 yuan net income to his family.

A journalist with the "A Date with China" international media tour interviews a jujube farmer at a village in Makit county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on May 20, 2021. [Photo provided to]

A stone's throw away, fellow villager Imin Amat was watering his flower-decorated courtyard. The area is spacious, easily the size of two basketball courts, with vegetable plots, pigeon and chicken coops, an open garage and a three-bedroom house. There are also apple, pear and peach trees. Potted roses line up near the front gate while grape vines climbed up the overhead wooden trellis.

Inside the house was quiet. It was a weekday and both children, a girl who is just 10 and a teenage boy, were away at school, his wife, Patigul Yasin, explained. The house - built nearly a decade ago, in 2012, with a government subsidy of 28,500 yuan - looked neat and clean. A clock on the wall, with a gilded frame and a brocade face, said 10 minutes to two. It was lunch time for the locals. The kitchen was absolutely spotless. Patigul laughed at the compliments while her husband brought out trays of sliced melons, sugared nuts, roasted nangs (local breads), raisins and bananas.

During the conversation it was learned that their son is studying in the coastal city of Qingdao, where everything is provided for free, from room and board to tuition. It's a coveted program and highly competitive. But it's also so far away, don't they miss him? "It's ok. We have WeChat and video talk from time to time," Patigul said. "Besides, everything at the school is so much better than what we have here at home. I've nothing to worry about." Imin nodded emphatically, beaming with pride for his honor-roll son.

The conversation continued fitfully because of language differences. But two things are for certain and need no translation. Their overwhelming hospitality, and their unmistakable joy in life.

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