Pain...doesn't that saddle look like pain? It used to look quaint to me - a testimony to the simplicity of herding life on the steppe. Now it just looks like pain. Why you ask? Because now I have to ride it..!! That's right - a bunch of intrepid riders here in Mongolia have decided to ride across the Gobi on horseback in support of the Children of the Peak - the kids whose families make a living scavenging at the dump here in Mongolia!
And yes, I am one of them. A scant 19 months after the first time I sat on a horse I am set, along with 4 others and our wonderful guides from Sara's Ger Camp, to take on 700 kilometers of some of the toughest riding on the planet in order to raise awareness and funds to help the Children of the Peak. As part of the fund raising, we are taking pledges as to how many kilometers we can collectively ride in a Mongolian saddle like the one pictured above. We are hoping for 70 km - a total of 10 percent of the ride!
I have attached the informational flyer about the ride below, so have a quick squiz and see what it's all about. I'd like to say it should be fun...but...?? In any case, it will be an experience of a lifetime and hopefully will help change the lives of some really wonderful children up at the garbage dump.
Thanks for sharing this with all your friends!
The Gobi Gallop
The first annual charity endurance ride benefitting the Children of the Peak.
What it is:
A ride across the Gobi Desert – high, rocky, hostile. So barren that we will have to bring along feed and water for the horses and we expect to face sand storms, flash floods and mile upon mile of glass like obsidian underfoot. In short, over 700 kilometers across some of the most challenging landscape there is…and we’re going to cross it in just 10 days. In order to make it across in 10 days, we will be having at least three 100 km days. For those of you who don't ride...that's a LONG way!
On May 18th, 2013 we will be setting off from Sara’s Ger Camp – 8 km. north of the big Chingiis Khaan statue. Our destination? Oyu Tolgoi - deep in the heart of the South Gobi Desert. 700 kilometers, 10 days and countless challenges and adventures later, we expect to arrive on May 28th.
Who we are:
This year we have 5 riders (3 women and 2 men) ranging in age from 44 to 64. Our least experienced rider sat a horse for the first time only 1.5 years ago -our most experienced had that pleasure 60 years ago! Together we are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who want to give the same kinds of opportunities and support to the Children of the Peak as we have given to our own children and grandchildren.
Why are we doing this?
To raise funds and awareness in support of some of the most disenfranchised and neglected children in Mongolia - those whose families make their living scavenging at the dump – the Children of the Peak. Full details about the project at www.veloofoundation.com
You Can Help!
Please consider sponsoring the ride by helping us provide food & water & return transportation for both the participants and the horses….
Pledge an amount per km that we ride in a WOODEN MONGOLIAN SADDLE like this one….yes, that’s right – the ride is not yet tough enough for us, so we are all going to log some miles in a traditional saddle!! We are hoping for a total of 70 kms doing it the hard way, but we will track the total – verified by video – and when we arrive we will let you know how truly intrepid we are, and collect your pledge.
Donate directly to our bank (see below) or via paypal at the top of this post
Special thanks to Baagii & Saraa and their intrepid, adventurous team from Sara’s Ger Camp for making this possible by being brave enough to take a crew of expats across the second largest desert in the world!! Check them out at www.horsetrekmongolia.com or www.sarasgercamp.com
2013 has arrived and we had such fun welcoming the New Year up a the Children of the Peak Sanctuary!! If you've read the previous blog then you know about all the fun we had putting together the gift bags - and if you haven't read the previous blog...What's wrong with you? Go read it !....then come back and read this one!!
So..without further ado, for those of you who have done your homework, here is a look at some of the magical moments of the day!!
Chrangoo (hopefully I have transliterated that correctly!) gazing a little suspiciously at Santa...off camera.. being held in the loving embrace of his care giver and big brother.
The day started with some last minute additions of candy to the gift bags...we ran out the night before and had to stop en route and buy some more, and some more little plastic bags to make up the candy bags for the gift bags...good thing we have a big car..and an understanding driver!!
Once we got to the site we found everything in fevered preparation for the day. There would be a talent show by the kids and the performers were getting their makeup put on by the youngest make-up artist I have ever seen!
..and the whole community got together to shovel up the packed down snow so that the kids would have a warm place to stand while waiting for Santa..or " Winter Grandfather" as they call him here.
While we were waiting for electricity ( yes, they jump-started the house for this event..don't ask! Suffice it to say that the electricity has now been professionally installed and in the future jump-starting the electricity will NOT be necessary!) we took the opportunity to spend some time with the kids. All 170 of them. And a handful of local and ex-pat volunteers ( thank you guys!)...and grandparents...and..well, you get the idea...
...all in about 450 square feet!! It is hard to believe there were that many people there ...and room (sort of!) for a show the kids had been working on all week!
Everyone wore their Sunday best - including the academic medals this little one won in first grade! She was so proud of them!
And this sleeping baby just kept getting passed from person to person to person...gorgeous!
...and this little guy came in a little late and was alarmed to see there were no seats..but, luckily, secured the best seat in the house on the lap of his new friend!!
Finally it was time for the show! The kids had clearly put a lot of work and thought into the show and their pride and determination...not to mention talent!!.. really showed through!
We had traditional Mongolian songs & dances...
...arena style announcements by out talented M.C...
..a really wonderful, (if somewhat nervous) rendition of the three or four minute traditional Mongolian greeting...
and, of course, what show in 2012 would be complete without a rendition of ...Da Da Da... Gagnam Style! In Dells...it was wonderful. And some of these kids can really DANCE!!
Of course, so can some us of old fogies- as evidenced by this very up-beat version of the traditional posed photo!
After the show it was time for food ( sorry - no photos, but lovely piroshki ..dumplings..was served!) and then, of course, Grandfather Winter arrived - complete with 200 gift bags!
A big hit!
And it was lovely to see that the little Mongolians approach Santa with the same cautious reserve as kids anywhere...!
It was a very anxious time for everyone waiting....
So serious in her little chicken suit on her way to the "sock " station where everyone who got a gift bag also received a pair of wonderfully warm camel hair socks - and had them put on their feet as well to make sure that the socks truly became theirs and were not taken and sold for a profit by their parents or other adults!
Bayaraa, our driver and friend, did a FABULOUS job with his role as the man in red! He really hammed it up and had the kids entranced!
Some of the locals heard we were giving away socks and came to see if they could get a pair for themselves! It was very cute!
After dinner there was cake and as everyone left we gave them apples and oranges to take with them. The oranges were a BIG hit!
And it was great to see that some of the kids even sported the traditional winter dell that is so essential here in the winter!
Quite a few of the little ones came with their Grandmothers. I love this photo because it shows so clearly how happy and proud the Grandmas are to be able to participate in such a fun day with their grandbabies! They were clearly old friends and they were very gracious when they stopped to chat with me and thank us for hosting such a wonderful community event - the first of many I hope!
My second favourite moment...a volunteer from Price Waterhouse Coopers Mongolia heard this little girl crying and crying with no one helping her and went over to find out what was wrong. Cold hands ....so, down she knelt and patiently rubbed the little hands, blew her warm breath on them and, when the little girl had warmed up enough to stop crying, took off her own very warm woollen mittens and put them on the little girl's hands. Magic happens.
And my favourite moment of the day. It happened about two "blocks' away from the centre as we were driving away. We saw this little girl walking home ( presumably ) alone dragging her bag along the ground. We stopped and rolled down the window to say hello and at first she was VERY suspicious ( someone has been talking to her about strangers in cars - Excellent!) and then she saw me through the open window and her face split into a huge smile.
"Oh, it's you!" She exclaimed with joy and recognition in her voice! " Thank you!! Happy New Year!" She called out as she waved to us.
I couldn't have said it any better myself! So, in the timeless words of the four year old in her bright green jacket, please imagine me smiling and calling in delight across the vast reaches of the Internet..
"Oh, it's YOU!! Thank you! and Happy New Year!"
And let me add...I hope that 2013 is a wonderful, healthy, productive and truly special year for you and yours...and for us up at the Peak too!
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!