When Alimjan Halik touched down at Urumqi, capital city of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, he was feted like a returning hero. Better known as Alim, the 40-year-old had been selected as the "Cyberspace Personality Who Moved the Hearts of the Chinese in 2010" for his decade-long help for needy people.

During that time, he donated almost all of his earnings - more than 100,000 yuan ($15,000) - from his humble kebab business in Bijie, Guizhou province.

Born into a poor family with six siblings, Alim left home to earn a living in 1997 with only a kebab roaster. In Bijie, someone reached out and gave him a helping hand. As the city found a place in its heart for Alim, its citizens developed a taste for his lamb kebabs. But he seldom spends money on himself, preferring a simple meal of noodles and bread, sometimes leftover kebabs. He lives in a rented room in a shabby house, his leather shoes rescued from a rubbish bin.

Over the past decade, Alim has helped more than 200 students from poor families, and 10 of them have entered university.