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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Building Buildings ... and Bridges

This week saw a remarkable event up at the Peak - we'll get to that in a minute.  First, for those of you who are following such things, an update on the progress of the construction!

Things are coming along up at the site...We have had some delays due to the electricity being shut off during the day off and on for a couple of weeks  now, but it looks like we are back on track now!  The  house rebuild is nearly done..Looking good for the new teacher & security guard who will be living here!

New interior walls, new exterior walls, new insulation ( LOTS of that!) new ceiling, new roof, new chimney, new windows, new doors, new get the idea!

 Warm and snug and cosy already with the final exterior finishing still to be done!

...and it will be warm all winter long with this great new "heat" wall chimney that is so common here in Mongolia.  The chimney runs through the wall creating a large heat mass which helps keep the house warm all night!  The new fibreglass insulation ( instead of the cardboard box insulation that was previously there!!) will help too!
The exterior finishing for the gers has been slowed down by the electricity outage and the drop in the temperature, but Zagdaa, as usual, has a solution. Here is the new material that will be covering the roof - on top of it will be a rubberized fibreglass that is being prefabbed off site.  The exterior is scheduled to be finished by the 15th! Getting so close now!

So, that's the construction update...on to how the project is helping to build bridges here in Mongolia...and no, not actual bridges...!! 

 Last weekend we had a few very special visitors up to the Peak.  The first, Carol, one of my very good friends here brought along a huge donation of winter jackets, blankets and toys! Some of these items had been donated and brought into Mongolia by Carol's niece...from Dubai!  Wow - who would have thought that this little project would inspire people from so far away to go to such effort!  Thank you Carol for spreading the word about the project and then putting in the effort to get the donations up to the Peak!!

 The other special guests were a group of teachers and students from the American School here in UB who, as part of their public service curriculum, came up to run a soup kitchen for the local community at the dump. The students were all from more affluent Mongolian families and had never been to the ger district before, so it was a really eye-opening experience for them!

First it was off the bus  and into the ger with the soup & bread...

 ..and in the ger there were somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60 kids and a few elderly members of the community all waiting  to meet the generous kids from ASU and their teachers. For those of you who have never been in a ger - 60+ people in a ger makes for a very very full ger! For the mathmeticians in the crowd, the ger is a circle with about a 16 foot diameter.  You do the math.
 The six students and Robert, their teacher, squeezed into the jam packed ger and started the distribution, and got their first look at the people of the Peak.

 The principal from ASU takes her turn with that gorgeous baby!  After we had eaten it was time for some playing outside with the kids...

 It was lovely to see the men around - they are usually up at the dump working when I'm up there.  Here they had managed to find a piece of wood that they were cutting into tiny little pieces so that each family could have some wood to burn.
 Full bellies make for happy kids!

 And the beard provoked quite a lot of interest and experimentation.  She really had to find out if it could be pulled off!
At the end of the day, it was another really wonderful opportunity for building bridges between our two communities....

...and it was SO wonderful to see Mongolian kids up there getting a  first-hand look at a part of their city that they had not really known existed.  And the best part?  They want to come back and help again!!  Wonderful kids - and a wonderful community service programme going there at ASU.  

Thanks you guys!  See you up there next week!

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