Two farmers in southern Xinjiang have never met, but have had very common experiences. Both men previously traveled illegally out of China to find the so-called "heavenly world", before being arrested and repatriated to their hometowns. CCTV reporter finds out what their lives are like now.
July the 13th, 3 pm. Mexmut is performing Wudu, the Muslim spiritual hygiene ritual, at home. Behind him, is his house being renovated. After washing, he goes to the village's mosque to pray.
"Normal religious activities can be carried out at the mosque Five-time prayers are also fine The government supports our legal religious activities very much. Fasting is also a personal choice," said Mexmut, fruit farmer.
Aksu is a city of apples. It's now the key period to care for the fruit trees. Back from the mosque, Mexmut comes to work to tend his orchard.
"This is my orchard, mainly apples and pears. I've done most of the work. Now I only need to fertilize and prop up the branches within a week. Then there're two more batches of fertilizing needed until October. My revenue might be 100 thousand yuan," Mexmut said.
Two years ago, Mexmut was repatriated to his hometown after illegally immigrating. Local police and legal authorities investigated his case, finding that he had been coerced and cheated. They gave him leniency and helped him return to a normal life. Now, thinking about his experiences, Mexmut says he was confused at that time.
"I was muddled-headed. Religious extremism affected me. They said I could do anything I wanted to do after going out of the border," he said.
"No one would stop us. It's easy to make money. If you are there, you can make money. So I did it."
Thanks to his diligence and the help from local government, Mexmut now has a fruit orchard over 0.6 hectares, plus 7 store rooms .
"The income is good, 200 thousand yuan per year. I nearly made a very big mistake. Now this place can be sold for a million yuan. I'd lose everything if I left."
With his new confidence, Mexmut's life is getting better. The local government has helped and encouraged him to rent an orchard that's larger than 3 hectors, but that's only the start of his plans. In two months, he and his wife are expecting a baby.
For a similar experience, we found another man called Alim. He previously sold off all his family assets, taking his wife and infant daughter and sneaked to countries including Turkey and Afghanistan via Southeast Asia.
Alim, didn't get rich on his journey, but used up 100,000 yuan in savings. After serving 17 months in an Afghan jail, he was repatriated to China. Ezmet Emer was one of the policemen working on his transfer at Urumqi airport.
"He was repatriated back in July 2013. He was worried what the villagers would think and say about him, and believed they would think he did something wrong. So he stayed at home for quite a while," he said.
Local authorities gave him leniency based on the nature of his crime, subjective guilty plea and previous prison sentence. They also helped relocate Alim and his family. To help him fit into his new life, a local policeman has become his guarantor.
"He just came back from abroad. If I don't guarantee for him, and no one does, then he'll be abandoned. If we don't treat him as a normal person, others will do the same," Emer said.
Backed by the police, Alim was able to repurchase his previously sold farmland. The village committee found him a place to live. His child was sent to kindergarten. And very recently, he was given permission to apply for a government subsidized apartment.
After returning to his normal life, Alim wants his experience to be told to as many people as possible. He says he has already found heaven on earth - it is his hometown, where he once again lives.