‘Gift goats’ create income for villagers
Benefits then passed on to others in need
Ablimit Tudia, a 67-year-old farmer in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, enthusiastically supports a “gift goat” program that began in the district in December 2011.
He and his wife received a 5,400 yuan ($875) startup loan from the program that year, which they used to buy five pregnant goats.
Their number of goats doubled at the beginning of 2012 when five kids were born, and the couple eventually sold the offspring for 7,500 yuan.
The original goats have since given birth to another two sets of five kids, which can now be sold for more than 20,000 yuan.
Tudi, who speak only Uyghur, expressed his gratitude through a translator.
“He said the program is very good. His family need not worry about money matters now,” the translator said.
The couple, who live apart from their children, earned less than 5,000 yuan a year before the program. Now they can live comfortably on their goat-raising skills.
As a part of the program, the couple have passed on their startup loan of 5,400 yuan to another poverty-stricken family in their village.
According to the social workers’ station, which was introduced by the Shenzhen government as an effort to provide professional services to the Kashgar community, they jointly administer the program with the Sichuan Haihui Poverty Alleviation Service Center and the local animal husbandry authority.
“Sichuan Haihui provides their long experience and practice, the local animal husbandry trains the farmers, and we are responsible to implement the program,” said Wu Qiulin, chief of the station.
Sichuan Haihui is the sole representative in China of Heifer International, a global nonprofit organization since 1944. The organization has provided livestock to more than 15.5 million poor families in rural areas in more than 125 countries.
The program funds participants to raise livestock and become selfreliant, and the participants are then asked to pass on the same number of animals or an equal cash amount to other needy families, thus perpetuating the gift.
In the “gift goat” program in the rural area of Kashgar, Sichuan Haihui and the Shenzhen government helped finance the first group of selected 80 families in December 2011.
The participants can keep the breeding goats and their offspring, but need to pass the startup amount two years later to another needy family.
According to the social workers’ station, most of the families in the rural areas of Kashgar are poor but can easily tend the livestock, as the men seldom work away from home and the women raise the children. In addition, the local Uyghurs are willing to work hard to better their lives.
The program has been well received among the villagers.
So far, it has benefited 430 families in six villages of five counties, of which 350 were first recipients and 80 families got the regifted funds, according to the social workers’ station.
“All 80 families in the first batch passed on the loans. That result is really encouraging,” Wu said.
A survey by social workers, who sampled 50 households from the first group, showed the income of each family increased by at least 12,000 yuan over the first two years.
The program is expected to benefit 780 families by the end of this year, Wu said.
The social workers also put 20 to 25 families into mutual-aid teams, in which the members are required to contribute a small amount of money every month, Wu said.
Families in need can access the funds, such as to pay water and electricity fees, see doctors or buy food.
“It helps to build a caring and loving society among the Uyghur villagers,” said Dong Huan, a social worker from Shenzhen.
In March 2013, Batu Ubli’s 2-yearold son was seriously scalded by boiling water on his right arm and part of his body.
The family sold all 10 of their goats, but still needed more money to pay his medical costs, Batu told reporters.
The mutual-aid team gave 1,000 yuan to the family, and other villagers also donated 800 yuan.
“We all cried when we received the money. I will work hard and help other villagers in need as well,” Batu said.
According to Dong, the program also affects the local residents’ perception of their families and children, through training and education.
“Many families believed that girls don’t need to study much, but now the parents want their sons and daughters to go to university,” Dong said.
Another change is that the parents have begun encouraging their children to study Chinese and hope the social workers will help them improve their listening and speaking abilities.
It takes about eight hours to fly from Shenzhen, an affluent city bordering Hong Kong, to Kashgar in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.
It was the longest domestic flight route when Hainan Airlines started operating it last October to connect China’s oldest special economic zone with its youngest, with a stopover at Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang.
Despite the distance of more than 5,000 km between the cities, Shenzhen was designated by the central government in 2010 to offer oneon-one assistance to the urban area of Kashgar, and one of its 11 counties — Tushkurgan — which borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
The southern city government plans to invest about 700 million yuan ($113.6 million) this year to support the economic and social development of Kashgar and Tushkurgan, according to the representative office of the Shenzhen government in Kashgar, which is the frontline headquarters.
The financial input usually accounts for 0.6 percent of Shenzhen’s city-level fiscal income each year. This year, the Shenzhen government provided an extra 200 million yuan to build a comprehensive university in Kashgar, said Luo Jianpeng, command general of the frontline headquarters.
The southern city has invested roughly 2.8 billion yuan in 127 projects since 2010, he added.
“It’s critical to develop the economy of Kashgar so that people can have jobs and make money, which is good for the peace of southern Xinjiang,” said Luo, who also holds the position of deputy Party chief of Kashgar and its surrounding villages.
Kashgar, the biggest city in southern Xinjiang, has had a number of terrorist attacks the past few years.
“When people are poor, with no jobs, they are more inclined to be persuaded by terrorists and take extreme actions,” Luo said.
At least half of the annual investment from Shenzhen goes to the development of an industrial park and a new city — two projects that can create jobs and a better living standard, Luo said.
The Shenzhen Industrial Park, covering 3.3 sq km, has attracted about 10 billion yuan in contractual capital from 23 companies, of which 950 million yuan has been invested, government figures show.
Some of the companies are involved in the green sectors of new energy, new materials, environmental protection and solar energy development.
“These companies could create at least 2,000 jobs. We expect such vacancies will increase further with a growing number of companies moving in,” Luo said.
Shenzhen City, developed by 11 State-owned companies from Shenzhen, will be a new downtown in the east of Kashgar with skyscraper office buildings, a financial district, entertainment venues and public facilities.