Wednesday, 13 October 2010

orphans in Mongolia

Sometimes you find yourself doing something that really makes you realise that you haven't been born yet. We might stress about interest rates hikes, job security, the environment, the size of our bum or our weight. There are others who would give their teeth to have these concerns rather than those they've been dealt. While Mongolia is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet it is also broken in places. No more so is this evident than amongst the vast population of orphans. Every third child in Mongolia lives in poverty. These kids have nothing.
No accurate statistics exist but it is reported there are far more orphans here than in most other countries, particularly those in the west. Many of the orphans live on the streets. Summers are spent scratching a living from passers by. Winters are spent fighting off death. Although far fewer than in years gone by there are still many children who spend winter living below the streets alongside the hot water pipes in the sewers (horrifically this has spawned a sycophantic trade in poverty tourism).
In recent years several privately operated orphanages have sprung up to augment the state facilities. These are not 'privately operated' like the public schools in the UK. They are mostly run by an incredible individual who is willing to dedicate their life to helping give these Mongolian kids the best chance available. They truly need it. Those who are able to find themselves in the orphanages are the lucky few, there are many more who remain on the streets often abused or in fear of their lives. I heard about a mother whose two year old daughter had double pneumonia and TB. She took her to a hospital for help. The state funded the girls recovery. The mother responded by taking her drugs and kicking the infant into the street. Six months later the mother wanted the child back from the orphanage. Six months after that the child returned. The spiral continued downwards until the child died. The mother is pregnant again.
I have been privileged to visit and help at a couple of the orphanages. Today I met some incredible youngsters. Under the guidance of a wonderful nun (think Blues Brothers) a real sense of community has been created that harbours, nurtures and cares for each and every child. The sister receives very little official investment but is brilliant at getting others to donate clothing, food and some money. She is also becoming my mentor for the remainder of my time in Mongolia. From next week I will be doing my best to help and learn from these amazing wee individuals and the wonderful human being who watches over them. Please note, I will also be looking for help from abroad...
Mongolian of the day:- you're welcome :: zugeer