Lonely man turns islet to blooming paradise

Lonely man turns islet to blooming paradise

Lonely man turns islet to blooming paradise

Grapes, cherries, apricots and chestnuts have flourished on the once desolate islet in Keban Dam Lake thanks to the 14-year-long efforts of a retired old man.

Ziya Abay, 80-year-old former antiquarian, returned to his hometown in the Pertek district of the eastern Tunceli province after losing his wife in a traffic accident in 1995.

After spending many years to counter his grief, he decided to move to a barren islet in the middle of the Keban Dam Lake, which divides the Tunceli and Elazığ provinces.

For 14 years, he has planted 3,500 trees on the islet of 80,000 square meters and built an irrigation pool.

“I have trees of many species here. I do grafting, irrigating; I look after my trees. I’m happy and peaceful. I don’t like sitting at a coffeehouse. I just go to Pertek every 15 days. Other than that, I always stay at this islet,” he told İhlas News Agency on Aug. 4.

“I plant vegetables as well. There are various kinds of fruits here, including chestnuts, grapes, cherries and apricots,” he added.

Abay was born in a Pertek village, where he earned his farming skills until he was eight years old. His world changed when they moved to Elazığ and he was involved in trade business. He left for his military service at the age of 20 and then settled down in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir, where he opened an antique shop.

His big struggle against sadness and loneliness started right after the terrible accident that took away his wife from him. Their four children were all in different parts of the country. He decided to go back to the lands he was born and raised.

“I live in the house that I built here. I spend time with these to ease my grief over my wife. Loneliness is hard to bear, but what else can I do?”

There is no electricity on the islet, no drinking water, no heating system and no means of communication.

“I cook for myself. I’m not in need of care from anyone. When I get things to do I sail to Pertek by boat. Then I come back to my islet by boat. I live here day and night. This islet is everything for me; it keeps me alive, it gives me peace and strength. So, I have made this islet alive in return. I wish to stay here until death. I wish my wife was also alive and we were together on this islet. I always think of this,” said Abay.

The Keban Dam, a hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates, was built between 1966 and 1974. The Keban Dam Lake, the reservoir created by Keban Dam, has a surface area of 675 square kilometers and is reputedly the fourth-largest lake in Turkey after Lake Van, Lake Tuz and the reservoir created by the Atatürk Dam.