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Qiyas is a skilled carpenter in the summer months, helping to provide housing for the sustainable population growth of sunny Arslanbob, a beautiful, Uzbek-minority village in southern Kyrgyzstan. In the winter, his small construction cooperative is busy making door- and window-frames for the next summer's construction.
While much of Kyrgyzstan is rapidly urbanizing (the young people fleeing the harshness of village life for the promise of the city), Arslanbob tells a different story. While the effect of being a minority population in a small country with less-than-progressive protections for equal rights certainly helps to bind the community, Arslanbob also offers a very high quality of life, and its young people know it. The friendly village of 13,000 is surrounded by fresh air, beautiful mountains and 1.6 million acres of walnut forest preserve, whose harvest fuels the main economic activity in this agrarian community.
Additionally, Arslanbob is home to one of the world's most inspiring Community Based Tourism (CBT) chapters, A former shepherd and perpetual outdoor enthusiast, Qiyas began making small woodcraft items as gifts for foreign visitors a few years ago. He works as a part-time guide with CBT, and enjoys skiing in his free time.