Well, I'm just a bit behind but put that down to having ridden 1500 kilometres in the last 6 weeks ( the Gobi Gallop Crew Ride and the Gobi Gallop 2016 - in the Steps of the Khaan) in support of the kids. Follow that up with an epic Gobi Gallop Gala at the Shangri-La Hotel here in UB and all that that entails and that gives you some idea as to what I've been up to!
Excuses aside, here's a look at what children's day looked like up at the Peak. Our celebration happened a couple of days before the official Children's day on June 1st so that the chldren and teachers would be able to spend time with their own families as it is a BIG deal here in Mongolia. We took advantage of the day to celebrate the achievement of our 3rd graduating class at the Children of the Peak Sanctuary Kindergarten. There were the usual songs and dance from the children. Awards were awards, certificates distributed, teachers thanked and special guests entertained. There were over 50 children who graduated, but about 10 of them had been with us for three years That means they were part of that first crazy day all the way back when that was full of crazy crying children . That first day when the professional teachers promised by the Government didn't show up. That first day when accountants, cleaners, visitors, assistant teacher and drivers all juggled crying babies and tried to distract them and make them smile. That day when no one had any idea of what was coming - least of all the children.
It was beautiful and bitter sweet for me to see this group graduate. This is the last first. This was wonderful to see them all smiling and happy. To see them dressed up in their Sunday best and holding hands and skipping around arm in arm. It was wonderful to get their hugs and to be able to give them best wishes for what promises to be a brighter future for them all. I gave me a huge lump in my throat when "Cheeks" threw his arms around me and when Batmunkh gave me the sweetest of all sweet smiles and thanked me for the kindergarten. ... Batmunkh who came to the kindergarten complete with swinging fists, very active kicking feet and teeth that were happy to chomp on anyone who got in his way. Batmunkh who brought us Jijig Altai, a gentle caring grandma from the dump who was his teacher's aide and who kept the other children safe for the 3 weeks it took him to settle and learn that kindergarten was fun. Jijig Altai who is now one of our assistant teachers and has a home, security and a job with benefits.
These children were the fabric that made up the beginning of the work. They were the first installation on what we hope will be a long and colourful bolt of material. There were jagged corners and rough edges at the beginning but those have smoothed out now. The fabric is looking wonderful, happy and optimistic. Thank you to the children and families that made up that first group. I'm happy to call many of you friends now an I am so excited to see what is ahed for these children and all of their friends who "graduated" with them.
And thank you to all of you whose ongoing generosity has made it possible for these children to have this opportunity. We truly could not do it without you all!!
Yes, it was her dream. Since she was in high school Maagaa was great with numbers, with business, with financial management. She dreamed some day of being a professional accountant, but coming from a middle class family in Mongolia struggling under the Soviet System until the mid 90's it gradually became clear that even if she could manage to get the schooling, there would be no jobs for her. Instead she went to school and studies Finance, Spanish and English hoping for work somehow in international business. That didn't eventuate. There was marriage and children and all that that involves and as time went on, there simply were no jobs available. She did what most people ( certainly many people in Mongolia!) do and that is take what you can get.
When I met Maagaa she was working as a cleaner. Quiet and reserved she did an excellent and very thorough job but hesitated to engage in conversation - even though her English was quite good. Gradually as I got to know her I found out about her passionate desire ( unabated!) to become a professional and I came to respect her unswerving honesty and attention to detail. When it became obvious that the Children of the Peak Sanctuary Project was going to need a bookkeeper I went to Maagaa. I knew she had previously kept the books for a restaurant where she worked and I also knew that the single most important thing to ensure the success of the Project was me being able to have 100% confidence that the money was being properly managed. I needed someone I knew - someone I could trust. And it was obvious to me that that person was Maagaa - I just had to convince her of it!
In fact, convincing her was easy. She was thrilled to be able to have an opportunity to finally find a way back into the field she had for so long wanted to join but hadn't been able to. About 4 months into her job she came to me and told me that she needed more training. She needed more experience. She told me that if she was to do her job properly, she had to get certified.....oh, and she had already registered for school.
So began the journey of our very first participant in the Staff Development programme at the Peak. Maagaa insisted on paying for her own school even though we offered to pay. She looked at me very seriously and told me that it was inappropriate to pay for staff development unless the staff member had already proven that they were going to be capable of their new role. She was very clear about the fact that I didn't know if she was going to pass and therefore it wasn't right for me to help her - it was up to her and her alone. She worked full time ( very full time!) putting together monthly reports for the Mongolian Government, for us, for our accountants in Canada and other intereted parties. She oversaw the spending at the Kindergarten - not always a smooth and easy task given the many different demands from many different parties. As her husband says, if she has a dollar in her hand you have to take it three times before you end up with any money,! I could see from the reports and from being at the kindergarten that Maagaa was ensuring that we got the very best value for every dollar we were spending and that made it possible for me to continue with our expansion and development without worry. She did her job so seamlessly that I almost forgot she was also going to school full time!
It's been a very challenging 2 years for Maagaa and her family. She has worked full time AND done a 4 year programme in 2 years. Yesterday was her graduation. I was touched and honoured to be welcomed to the graduation as part of the family. Maagaa graduated with honours...94%. She was smiling and laughing and radiant. It was beautiful to see her dream come true and even more beautiful to see how confident, outing and secure she has become as she has travelled this journey. It was beautiful to see her mother awash in tears of pride and her husband and daughter looking at her with joy and admiration. It is inspirational to me to see how she ( and her family!) have managed these two years. Many days she was at work at 7:00 int he morning and not back from school until 11:00 at night and THEN had to do her homework. Her complete dedication was the thing that pulled her through and I am very proud not only of her but to know her and to have her as part of the team up at the Children of the Peak Sanctuary.
When I told her yesterday that I was reimbursing her for her tuition for the 2 years of school as part of our Professional Development Programme ( FYI those monies come from our own personal donations, not from yours!) she was stunned and shocked. Then she smiled a huge smile and said, "I'll give it to other people - I'll help others with it! You have helped me and this is a way I can pass that along". Tears...yes indeed, there were tears. That's just too beautiful, and just the kind of person she is.
Congratulations Maagaa ! Excellent job well done!
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!