In 2013 when we first began collecting cashmere in Kyrgyzstan our Kyrgyz general manager Kanat and I worked to appoint a coordinator for each village in the regions where we were buying cashmere.
Jengish and his wife Uuzbu.
As we entered one particular small village Kanat pulled the car over and called his mother to ask if they had any “relatives” in this village. In Kyrgyzstan the word “relative” is very wide reaching as it is a small country with close knit communities and layers of connections.
Kanat’s mother replied that she needed to check. A few minutes later the phone rang, and news came that there was a relative in this village named Jengish and she went on to explain the nature of the connection that merited the term “relative" (Kanat had never met this person in his life).
After finding Jengish and explaining Kanat's relational connection, we went on to explain our work with cashmere and that we needed someone to be our representative in his village which he agreed to do. In the early years it was Jengish's job to pass out brochures that we had made explaining the quality standards of cashmere and how to properly comb it. During the actual season we gave him a pile of combs that he then passed out to people in the village and kept them actively used so that the goat fiber would be captured during the relatively brief window of time that goats were molting.
Jengish has now worked four seasons with us and he and his wife do a good job of making sure as many people as possible comb and collect their cashmere. In addition to the seasonal work that he does for us, Jengish takes care of his own flock of goats, plants potatoes in the spring with a horse drawn plow (which is very hard work), works as a shepherd watching his own and others animals out in a beautiful mountain pasture about three hours walk from his village, and harvests potatoes in the fall.
He and his wife have two young boys and a baby daughter. They are currently in the process of building a new house next to their old one and really look forward to moving into to it as it will be bigger and have better conditions.
I really appreciate Jengish’s quiet but strong character and the integrity he has shown in working for us. We wish him and his family nothing but the best of success.
Uuzbu making naan in the yurt.