Something very cool is happening, something I never expected but an so thrilled to report on....there is an echo boom of philanthropy in the countryside here in Mongolia. My good friend and Mongolian teacher Saraa (Standing beside me in the photo above....and Mongolian) and her husband Baagii ( you'll meet him in a minute..) have started thinking about the world in a whole new way. Saraa and Baagii run a small (wonderful!!) ger camp and horse trekking business ...www.horsetrekmongolia.com where I go riding every week. The International Equestrian Club ( fondly known as the riding club) has helped Saraa and Baagii and their neighbours tremendously and has allowed them all not only to remain in the countryside, but to thrive. This amelioration of their life has lead them to stop and consider their good fortune - and look at their other, far flung neighbours who have not been lucky enough to benefit from the riding club or the like....and, has made them want to spread the love and help their neighbours! It's a beautiful thing to witness! Saraa and Baagii have been involved on many levels with the foundation already - including helping us set up the Children of the Peak Sanctuary and running our annual fund raiser, the Gobi Gallop. Recently, after looking around and trying to decide the best, most sustainable way to help their rural neighbours, Saraa & Baagii came to me with a suggestion. "There are a lot of people out in the countryside just barely hanging on" they said... "why don't we help thembefore they have to give it all up and move into the city..and onto the dump! Even more, maybe we can gather them together, buy them a few animals and set them up in a business they all know well ....a farm!" Great idea ! I love it! And I love the the idea of helping your fellow man is spreading!! First things first though - let's just get them some warm clothes for Tsagaan Sar!
So, we bought a bundle of children's used warm jackets, had them washed by a local expat lady here,(thank you Joy!!) used some of the wonderful sweaters donated from Australia ( see previous blog... you won't believe how wonderful they are if you haven't seen them!) and I set about, with the help of Elaine and Sue - two tremendous volunteers really making a difference here in Mongolia - bundling up 80 or so bundles to give out in Erdene Zoum, a small town about 60 kms outside of Ulaanbaatar....all set up by Saraa!
Such Fun !! And it was so lovely to see how happy Saraa was to be instigating this wonderful outreach.
80+ kids, 23 families...like this one - 4 children, almost no animals left and the husband unable to find other work, they live on 80,000 MNT / month - family allowance. About $60.00 / month - and meat is about $6.00 / kilo. Very tough.
So sweet to see the happy smiles on the kids' faces!
These people are not used to people helping them and so it took them a bit to realize that we just wanted to give their children something warm and snug to help them through the winter.
And thanks to you too Sue!! And to your wonderful husbands who gave up their Saturday to come out and help us help these kids!
....with just some of the recipients!
...and why is it that the women always end up holding the babies..hmmmn...
.. I guess you could say look who's talking!
Saraa - having a blast!
It was nearly over and only had one problem... and we had not found a suitable recipient for this absolutely adorable little western fur lined jacket! Never fear...Baagii to the rescue! He saw that we were looking to find a LITTLE one for it, scoped out the crowd and took control!
Will it fit under that dell?
Yes it will!! How cute is that! ?? And how lovely to have another WARM layer under the dell! And how lovely to see Baagii get into the spirit of giving!
Thanks everyone! Another really wonderful day. I can't tell you how great it feels to be able to meet and help these people! After we had given something to everyone there, the local director wanted us to take our remaining 8 or so packages of clothes out to one of the poorest family in town - 3 women living with 10 children..in one ger.
This is the ger....inside wasn't any better. And yes, that door is a blanket. Suffice it to say that this week we are organizing another donation of clothes to this family - we found out that most of these ten kids aren't going to school because they don't have clothes - and food ( staples & meat), Boov, candy and tea for Tsagaan Sar. And next week Baagii and the guides he uses for his horse treks are going to help us out again. The Veloo Foundation is donating a fully decked out ger to help these ladies and, most importantly, the children out, and Baagii and his team are going to put it up for them. How good is that?!! So, once again, thank you all for your donations that make it possible for us to help like this...you really can't imagine the changes you are helping to make in so many lives here!!
It is Tsagaan Sar here in Mongolia..New Year's Day...and the Foundation is busy busy busy as it always it this time of year with lots of initiatives. This year, however, we got an unexpected bonus. We always try to give out new clothes at this time of year as it is very important in Mongolian culture to have something new to start the new year with - this year we received 45 stunningly gorgeous hand knitted sweaters from Australia for the kids up at the Peak. 45 knitted by the same lady!!! As you look through the photos that follow....please remember that. One gorgeous sweater after another - all different - all beautifully designed and wonderfully constructed. I don't know the angel who knitted these sweaters but I hope some day to meet her and let her know that her gift was SO much more than sweaters...it was love. The teachers, other volunteers, parents and children ALL could simply not believe that one person could have this much talent, dedication and stamina to produce what is really MUCH more than just a lot of sweaters. The collection was a work of art, and, the entire Kindergarten was alive with joy and happiness as the children chose their sweaters and Oh so happily donned them. One lovely boy carefully chose his and then helped the others choose theirs then took a book and spent the next hour curled up reading in his new sweater. It was gorgeous! As I walked out he looked up at me and smiled a wonderful smile of pure contentment and said "This is a really warm sweater." and then went back to his book. So, to whoever you are Madam who knitted this amazing collection, thank you. Thank you for making life brighter, more beautiful and warmer for 45 of the poorest kids around.
...starting at the beginning though -The last few days, along with a couple of volunteers, I have been a little wee bit swamped with sorting out donations - this is what my house looked like getting ready to give out the sweaters, plus get toiletry bags and clothes ready for the 100 or so people that we are sending from the dump to the public shower to be clean for Tsagan Sar, plus putting together 85 packages of hat / coat / scarves to hand out tomorrow in the countryside...but that's another blog!
The teachers and volunteers ( and kids!) were blown away with the selection and the intricacy of the designs! Beautiful!
...Maybe this one?
Just as an aside, half of the children slept through the first selection process - kind of amazing because it was NOISY!
Everybody had such fun getting to choose what they liked...or sometime what their friends liked!
Our littlest member - a little under the minimum age for the kindergarten...but.... he lives with his handicapped Grandpa and no one else so the teachers , when they found out about this, went over and offered to pick him up and take him home every day so that his Grandpa can have a break. How sweet was that??
It was so beautiful to see the children looking like living Christmas decorations in their new duds! The whole Kindergarten looked so festive!!
The Puzzle Station ... I think it's time for some new ones. These guys could do these puzzled with their eyes closed!
Anybody happy here?
The first lot up and dressed it was time to head out to the "Community" ger at the centre where we would be handing out Boov - Traditional Mongolian bread which is piled up and topped with traditional curd, candy and sugar and forms the centrepiece of every Mongolian table at Tsagaan Sar. If you don't have this, it isn't Tsagaan Sar. This year the Foundation is giving out 100 of these - mostly to elderly people as they get the most visitors at Tsagaan Sar and, for them, it is crucial to have a proper table.
Volunteers brought the Boov from the storage container to the Community Ger.
Then, in groups of 10 they came in. We started with the Grandmas.
The eldest woman and the eldest man in the community each also received the chest of a cow which, when boiled will also take its place on the table beside the Boov so that each visitor who comes will be offered some meat.
And then the men! This gentleman had to called down from the dump where he was working in order to receive his Boov and meat. Check out that nose!! At some point that had to have HURT! Yikes!
Taking Boov home for Grandma who is house bound....then we were done with the Boov and it was back to the kindergarten to get some sweaters on the little ones who had just woken up!
Although, some of them did have to be convinced to leave the puzzle table for a moment...
Then it was on with the lesson!
I love the ducks on this sweater!!
Almost everyone woke up! Not to worry - he still has his choice of sweaters - I took up 5 extra so that we can keep a small supply in the centre for new kids who join in and don't have anything warm to wear! Anyway, that was yesterday. An amazing day and I am really touched to be able to be a link in the chain that got our Australian Angel's "jumpers" onto so many little angels' backs....now it's time to pack up the car with the 80 or so jacket & hats and head out to the countryside to make more peoples' Tsagaan Sar a cheery and warm one!
Honoured. Amazed. Stunned. Excited. Ecstatic.
Five completely inadequate words to tell you how I feel about the fact that not only have I done a Tedx talk (gulp! First public speaking gig ever...go big or go home!!), but it has made its way to youtube and now, thanks to the hard work of SO many wonderful young Mongolians determined to help bring their wonderful country along the road to development and the miracle of modern science called the internet - you too can see the talk and get the back story of the creation of the Children of the Peak Sanctuary.
I hope you enjoy it! I know that for me it has been an experience that has changed everything. Everything. And just as an aside, and not as an "ageist" thing, if you're over 50 and haven't stretch you personal boundaries lately ....you should. It really ROCKS!! I've included a couple of the slides from the presentation that don't show up too well on the video...maybe I'll manage to stretch my boundaries some more and figure out how to upload the whole thing....but I googled it and it said "How to upload a Power Point Presentation to Blogger in only 9 easy steps" Nine huh. Maybe tomorrow :)
In the meantime... here's the link. Enjoy...and please share - raising awareness about this situation is the biggest step towards fixing it! Thanks!
Tedx Ulaanbaatar Women - Children of the Peak Sanctuary Project - The Power of Decision
Hello, my name is Julie and I am the Vice-President of the Veloo Foundation. Welcome to the Blog, where I will post new activities and events going on with the foundation. Enjoy!