Workers celebrate the upcoming hole-through of the Qamchiq Tunnel at the construction site in Uzbekistan, on Feb. 22, 2016. (Xinhua/Sadat)
BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The faded photos in Tulanbay Kurbanov's albums are his treasure.
With them, he often shares with his two daughters his childhood stories back in Andizhan, his hometown on the southeastern edge of the Fergana Valley near Uzbekistan's border with Kyrgyzstan.
Seven-year-old Zaringiz and three-year-old Mehrangiz, who now live with Kurbanov in the capital city of Tashkent, are familiar with the smile on their father's face when he indulges himself in appreciating the old photos. But they are yet to visit Andizhan in person.
EASIER WAY HOME
Kurbanov called his hometown a "wonderland" with lush mountains, clean air, delicious fruits and rich mineral resources.
However, craggy mountains had blocked the contact between Andizhan, one of the oldest cities in the Fergana Valley, and the outside world.
Every time Kurbanov went back to Andizhan, he had to take a detour through Tajikistan, which usually took him a whole day due to the redundant procedures at two security checkpoints.
Some Western countries initially planned to help Uzbekistan build a tunnel through the Qurama mountains in the 1990s. But field observations stumped all engineering companies.
To spare a grueling journey for his kids, Kurbanov has not taken them back to Andizhan. But it will not be the case any more.
In 2016, the Qamchiq Tunnel, with a length of 19.2 km, was put into use after three years of construction, thanks to the joint efforts by workers from China Railway Tunnel Group and the Uzbek Railways.
The tunnel, the longest of its kind in Central Asia, leads through seven geologic faults. It is part of the 169-km Angren-Pap railway line, which connects Tashkent with eastern Uzbekistan.
Kurbanov said it now only takes about 15 minutes to go through the Qurama mountains by train, and the journey between Tashkent and Andizhan has been slashed to about six hours.
Easier transportation will allow Zaringiz and Mehrangiz to better understand the smile of their father as well as the beauty of the Fergana Valley.
"It is a major achievement of the Belt and Road Initiative that China and Uzbekistan are jointly promoting, and also a new link of friendship and cooperation connecting the peoples of both countries," visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping said when attending the inauguration ceremony of the tunnel in 2016.
The tunnel has also boosted trade as fresh fruit can be delivered out of the valley faster, said local residents in Andizhan.
Proposed by China in 2013 to promote common growth and shared benefits, the BRI involves infrastructure development, trade and investment facilitation and people-to-people exchanges that aim to improve connectivity on a trans-continental scale.
SUPER GREEN POWER
The situation in Anapu of Para state, home to a vast Amazon rainforest reserve in northern Brazil, is about to change, too.
"This region is known for being very poor, very needy," Marcelo Pellett, a Brazilian environmental technician, told Xinhua.
With the arrival of Chinese workers and their power projects in 2016, local people's life has gradually improved, he said, adding that more importantly, they strove to leave a minimal mark on the ecology.
As Chinese company State Grid Brazil Holding built an ultra-high-voltage power line in the region, the 105-meter-high transmission towers they erected were at least 25 meters higher on average than the conventional ones.
"This effort significantly increases the project's cost, but it is worthy of protecting the Earth's green lung, the Amazon jungle," said Yang Guangliang, an assistant manager in charge of transmission lines in the project.
The project also experienced some adjustments during its implementation as several archaeological sites were found in the course of the work, said Yang, adding that they also bypassed an area where parrots had an active presence.
"The Chinese uncles help us build infrastructure. They not only help the local people, but also protect the animals, plants and our Para state's rainforest," William Paulo Santos, 13, said.
"I've become good friends with them," he added, with a bright smile.
Besides supplying clean energy, the power project has also created 16,000 local jobs, boosted Brazil's electric equipment industry, and helped build nearly 2,000 km of highways and 350 bridges.
In Haroon Khil village in southeastern Afghanistan's Khost province, Bilal Shafiq had been dreaming about playing soccer together with his friends. But he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect back in 2016 when he was six.
Bilal's father was told that an operation would cost about 9,000 U.S. dollars -- a hefty sum for a family like his.
The helpless family was given a glimmer of hope when a Chinese medical team arrived in Kabul in August 2017 to look for Afghan child patients with congenital heart diseases for future free treatment in China.
The service was part of a humanitarian aid program by the Chinese Red Cross Foundation (CRCF) named "Angels Tour -- Belt and Road Humanitarian Rescue Afghanistan Action for Children with Severe Diseases."
The program targeted Afghan children aged 0-14 who suffer from congenital heart diseases, and planned to provide 100 sick children with free surgeries in China, said Liu Jingjing, director of the program.
Bilal was lucky enough to be included and underwent a very successful surgery in September 2017 in Urumqi, the regional capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
"He likes smiling and smiles to everyone he meets. He also likes to interact with others, so everyone likes him," Liu said of Bilal, a boy of big hazel eyes and double-fold eyelids.
The CRCF completed the first phase of the aid program by the end of 2018. All the 100 children had successful operations in China and are making recoveries. The second phase is now underway to treat more ailing Afghan children.
Liu said Bilal came to see them when the medical team paid a second visit to Kabul. "Our doctors re-examined him and found that he was in good health," Liu said.
"I wish to study in China when I grow up, and I want to be a doctor in the future," Bilal beamed. Enditem
(Xinhua reporters Cai Guodong in Tashkent, Chen Weihua, Zhao Yan in Rio de Janeiro, Chen Xin, Zou Delu in Kabul also contributed to the story)