With Brad Winters of Foulger-Pratt (My Hero) and his right hand man, Pugee
Some blog posts are easier to write than others. This one is a tough one. Not because the subject matter is difficult. Quite the opposite - the subject matter is so wonderful that I fear English may be short of superlatives to describe it...but here goes...
A few weeks ago I took some folks up to the Sanctuary and into the dump to see the lives of our people up close and personal. One of these people "knew a guy" who had a building he was trying to get rid of ...would we potentially be interested? Well, sure, I guess. We're fundraising to expand the kindergarten to help more kids and if we could get a fully completed building for a reasonable price...well, that might work. That's how it started. Two days later I had a phone call from Brad Winters, the Country Director for Foulger-Pratt and my own personal angel, as it turns out! Brad asked me about what we were doing up at the Peak, the Mission and long term goals of the Foundation and a few other probing and serious questions...and then he told me about the building.
Foulger-Pratt contracting is a construction company and the building had been their office building while they were working in Mongolia. A steel frame modular building built in Mongolia, it was designed and built for the cold weather here - always a problem in construction - and could easily ( well..with six very large trucks and the second largest crane in the country!!) be moved. The company was looking to sell the building but when Brad heard about our work he said he thought maybe he could work something out with his boss. So it was that two days later ( while out horseback riding) I got the call from Brad to come and have a look at the building and see if we could use it.
It was BEAUTIFUL!! Four thousand of the warmest, safest, most beautiful square feet that I have ever seen. It was apparent that with very little effort we could retrofit the 4 large conference rooms / 5 small offices / 2 kitchens / 2 bathrooms to make a spectacular 3 classroom / 1 kitchen / 1 dining room / 1 library / 1 boot & coat room / 4 office / 2 many little toileted bathroom kindergarten! As I walked through it marvelling at the international standard fittings (emergency lights, fully networked, fire extinguishers for heaven's sake!!) I knew that THIS was the perfect solution to our kindergarten expansion plan. The funny thing is that I have dozens of drawings that I did for a 6 container kindergarten building. I had it all laid out in my head - the containers seemed to me like the best way to quickly and efficiently get a building up and running ...but the local inspector had said that it was a problem because the pipes on containerized buildings so often freeze at minus 50 or so. So we had been in a real dilemma about how to construct a new building. But here was the answer. It was my 'container building' come to life - only much much better!
And then....and then Brad reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. And handed it to me. Just handed it to me. I couldn't breathe..but wanted to make sure I wasn't making one of those several thousand dollar erroneous assumptions so I asked " So, does this mean you are GIVING us the building??" "Yes," he said with a lovely ( somewhat watery ) smile " Yes we are. We couldn't think of a better use for this building than helping all those children up at the dump".
Well, it was time for my own waterworks and much joy and gratitude . What a wonderful human being to make a gift of this magnitude happen! And what a wonderful company! Foulger-Pratt is to give such an incredible gift that will literally change the future of thousands of children .
Well, that's how the donation came to pass... but there was one small hitch. When I met with Brad and toured the building on Wednesday, the building was set up in the compound at the American Embassy and Foulger-Pratt wanted to get it out of there...by Friday. Those of you familiar with Mongolia know that that short of a timeline is more or less like asking someone ( anyone...) to walk on water...backwards and blindfolded. BUT...where there's a will, there's a way. And we definitely had a will! And we found the way!
This also means that our operating expenses just doubled! Yikes!! So... I will be spending the next few months going door to figurative door raising money to make the best use possible and help the most children possible with this wonderful new building! Expect to see me soon asking for help so we can keep helping children like the ones in the photo below from our summer camp!!