An ordinary teacher, and later a national hero, Allaniyaz Uteniyazov single-handedly erected dozens of buildings in Nukus.

His legacy lives on in the gifts – the many schools, kindergartens and clinics – he left behind.

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"Perhaps you should take it easy, Allaniyaz? Let the youngsters step in," his wife Rasbeke would suggest. "Writing me off so soon?"

Allaniyaz would respond facetiously. "First things first, another medical clinic in town needs fixing up. We can talk about taking a break afterwards."
Upon meeting Allaniyaz in 1988, a reporter for "Komsomolets Uzbekistana" characterized him as lively and beaming with energy. By then Allaniyaz turned 52 and was regarded as a true hero in the community. From the days of his youth up until the time he passed on, the Teacher worked tirelessly for the benefit of others. The way he impacted his community – the children, the orphans, the seniors, the disabled and the vulnerable – is simply inconceivable.
The lack of reliable data makes it challenging to tally all the structures built by Allaniyaz Uteniyazov. According to the National Encyclopedia of Uzbekistan, he built 40 homes, 2 schools, 2 kindergartens, 2 hospitals and a library. Other records suggest 42 houses and more than 860,000 bricks laid. One of the Soviet newspapers even mentions the existence of an orphanage, an after-school club and an industrial workshop.
Many would agree that to measure the true impact Allaniyaz had on the community is an insurmountable task. Allaniyaz tended to anyone who reached out. "He always took the time to listen and treated the issues of others as his own. He was quite spiritual, yet humble and modest." said Kudaybergen Naurizbaev, an acquaintance of the Teacher.
His community endearingly nicknamed "a human-combine", as his persistence and hard work were absolutely remarkable. In Karakalpakstan's Pedagogical University where Allaniyaz studied foreign languages, many students called him "Universal" (a popular Soviet tractor brand) – reemphasizing his industriousness.

His classmates were unaware of what occupied Allaniyaz during the school breaks. At the end of his first academic year, Allaniyaz built a home for an elderly couple, absolutely free of charge. He made his own bricks and worked diligently until the house was completed. And that is how it all began.
After graduating university, Allaniyaz returned to his village; back then this area used to be a sovkhoz called Nukus but it later became part of Karakalpakstan's capital. For the next forty years, Allaniyaz worked as a teacher at a local school. During weekends, summer breaks or basically whenever he had free time, the Teacher worked tirelessly to build social infrastructure for the benefit of the community.
Allaniyaz's father was killed in 1943 during the Battle of Kursk. In his last letter to the family he wrote, "Rumor has it that many children will be evacuated to Uzbekistan. If anyone of them ends up in our village, you have to take them in."
Allaniyaz took his father's words to heart. He dedicated his life to mentoring and fostering the youngsters. As the result of the war, a disheartening number of children became orphans and Allaniyaz took it upon himself to build them an orphanage. He didn't stop just then: using the money he earned from cotton harvesting, Allaniyaz furnished the building and nourished the children.

"It breaks my heart when I see these children. As soon as I would enter the door, they leap towards you for an embrace...", shared Allaniyaz in an interview in 1988.

His portraits now cover the school walls; he is the topic of many children's essays – his memory lives on. Allaniyaz taught English to hundreds of students in Karakalpakstan. These days, his legacy is continued on by his daughter.
"He was such a kind person, you could just see it on his face. A skilled educator, with a strong moral code. He was gentle, yet strict. He was highly respected and became a father figure for many children." says Aklima Saipova, a school principle and a colleague. "He was fluent in English, although he has never been overseas. The only time he left his hometown was to visit a sanatorium in Ferghana." Aklima recalls.

His desk was always covered with notes and letters - all pleading for help. Allaniyaz build a three bedroom home for Aytab Ismatullaev, a man who helped clean up the nuclear waste in Chernobyl and as a result had a lot of health issues. His other project was to construct a home for a woman who lost her husband and five sons due to the war. And these are just a few uncovered examples of Allaniyaz's goodness.
There was no school in Kojan village, so the children had to trek for a long time all the way to Nukus. As soon as Allaniyaz learned about this problem, he set out to build a school right in Kojan village. By the way, we had a chance to visit that area: a modern school building erected in the years following Uzbek independence was towering over the modest and unassuming structure filled with school desks. The school the Teacher built still stands, ready for yet another school year.
The love Allaniyaz felt for his community had no bounds. In 1993, aged 63, he single-handedly planted a brand new community orchard. The orchard stretched over the distance of 25 football fields and was bountiful with apricot, apple and plum trees. Yet again, his focus was the needs of the orphaned and socially marginalized, not his own.
"In 2001 the land was gripped by drought, but Allaniyaz carried over numerous buckets of water to irrigate the trees", witnesses claim. Nowadays, Uteniyazov's family cares for the orchard; many young students from the community volunteer to help out as well. Everyone regards it as the Teacher's orchard and none dare to jeopardize it.
One man managed to achieve more than what hundreds fail to. What troubled Allaniyaz the most was that the needs of the community were many, but sadly, nobody followed his lead. "He couldn't find like-minded people and that pained him greatly." wrote the correspondent for "Komsomolets Uzbekistana" in 1988.
Just three years before that, Allaniyaz shared his grievances with an award-winning national writer Tulepbergen Kaipbergenov. "People vary: some have a physical might, while others are strong spirited. Everyone interprets their purpose in life differently, too. During the staff meeting, just before the summer break, I mentioned the lack of a medical clinic or a kindergarten, urging people to come out and help. Everyone avoided my gaze and as you can imagine nobody showed up."
"There were times when some government official would pass by, not even stopping for a moment, intentionally ignoring the construction. Some would stop, but only to reprimand or point out the futility of my efforts. Many would comment that this is what the government was for." the Teacher shared with the writer. "Perhaps that's true" Allaniyaz pondered. "Although it can't take care of everyone's needs, so only the lucky few get assistance! There was a disabled war veteran who kept knocking on so many government doors to no avail, until he asked me for help. Of course, I built him a home..."
In 1992 Allaniyaz Uteniyazov earned the highest teaching title – the National Teacher of Uzbekistan. In 1995 he received the "Mehnat Shuhrati" award. In 2001, just five years before his death, Allaniyaz was awarded the highest honorary title - the National Hero of Uzbekistan.
The following materials aided in publishing this article: "Don Quixote from Nukus" - an article from 1988 published in "Komsomolets Uzbekistana"; "An Image of Kindness" - a publication by Tulepbergen Kaipbergenov, an award-winning Karakalpak writer; "There is a Man" - a 2001 film directed by Tureniyaz Kalimbetov and produced by Uzbekkino.
Gazeta.uz would like to express their sincere gratitude to Kudaybergen Naurizbaev and Aklima Saipova for their assistance in making this publication and for continuously keeping the legacy of Allaniyaz Uteniyazov alive.
Photo and Video: Elyor Nematov
Text: Nikita Makarenko
English translation: Mariya Kontsepolskaya
Web design: Elyor Nematov
Video Editing: Nikita Makarenko and Elyor Nematov
Video Captions: Nikita Makarenko
Background Music: "Wave", United Taklif Band (Uzbekistan)

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