Seventy-two-year-old Şeyhmus Erginoğlu’s love for nature led him to plant trees for the past 26 years. He lives in the Artuklu district of Mardin (Mêrdin) in Turkey and helped to create a forest in the city with thousands of trees on 48 acres of land, after years of diligent work, Mesopotamia Agency reports.
Despite the fact that Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin is located over the sweeping Mesopotamian plains, the city does not have extensive tree cover. Şeyhmus Erginoğlu, in response to this situation, began to start planting trees when he retired in 1995.
Originally from the town of Bekirhan in the Kozluk district of Batman (Êlih), Erginoğlu settled in Mardin with his family years ago. After working as a truck driver for 25 years, he first started digging metres of tunnels to reveal the spring waters of the city.
He was amongst the first citizens who called for help when hundreds of fountains in the streets of Mardin faced water shortages.
Later, with the support of the Provincial Forest Director of the period, Erginoğlu, who is Kurdish, helped to transform 48 acres of land in Savurkapı District into a small forest.
He bought all necessary materials such as irrigation pipes and pesticides to create the forest from scratch. Never caring over expenses, Erginoğlu did everything on his own voluntarily. Even when he was asked to work with the municipality, he refused to do so.
“I will continue to do it until I die: I water the trees until 02:00 and also tend the trees during the day”, he said. He is a respected figure in the neighbourhood and people call him ‘Apê Şeyhmus’ or ‘Ammo Şeyhmus’ which means ‘Uncle Şeyhmus’.
“People who pick up their buckets in the morning come here, fill them with apricots, and take them back to their homes and families. I am very pleased when I see them doing that. This place belongs to everyone: it is not mine, anyone can come and visit”, said Apê Şeyhmus.