This month saw our second medical outreach programme with homeless youths in Ulaanbaatar. This time our medical volunteers visited the Children’s detention centre; where they examined and gave talks to the children.
This medical outreach project will continue twice every month for the rest of the year.
Volunteers: Fiona Greig, Alexander Pollock, Korinna Ringendahl, Kelly Allen, Maria Binder, Bo-Chao Wang, Bryony Milner, Bo Wang, Rebecca Buttar, Sunny Mai, Artemis Fedder, Derek Reinhold
In Mongolia, many physical and mental disabilities are actually caused by malnutrition during prenatal and early natal development. It is especially difficult for Mongolians to maintain healthy levels of nutrients like Vitamin C that can only be found in foods that have to be imported. This is why daily vitamins can be life-changing gifts for pregnant women and developing children. The United Nations estimates that about 4,000 children live on the streets in Mongolia, most of who live in Ulaanbaatar. These children often have no safe place to stay, food to eat or clothes to wear. The World Health Organization also estimates that 23.5 percent of children under 5 in Mongolia are stunted in growth (2004). For these reasons, on June 9th 12 Projects Abroad volunteers and 3 staff members packed up as many vitamins, key medications, toys and smiles as they could to take with them to a children’s detention center in Southern Ulaanbaatar.
This detention center can hold up to 60 children, but currently it only holds about 40. These children are usually between 3 and 16 years old, but they can be as young as 2. All of the children are found by the police living on the streets for various reasons and are taken to the detention center so that a home can be found for them. Some of these reasons include severe domestic violence, poverty, rape, incest, and abandonment. As you can imagine, many of these children are incredibly undernourished, physically disabled in some way and mentally scared. Unfortunately, the center cannot provide much help besides shelter because it is severely underfunded by the government. They receive approximately 400T per month per child. At current prices, this will buy two trips on a trolleybus or two eggs or a 12 ounce bottle of water in Ulaanbaatar. In spite of these challenges, the children seemed excited to play with us and eager to let us examine their ailments. Since basketball is the most popular street game for kids in Mongolia, playing ball was definitely one of the highlights. We also enjoyed drawing with them, playing with modeling clay and building with blocks. The most rewarding part of the event for us was definitely seeing their smiles and holding their hands. We brought toothbrushes, toothpaste and other supplies, and talked the children through the importance of, and methods to use these items.
While we were able to administer temporary remedies for their ailments, comprehensively diagnosing and curing their massive problems is truly beyond our reach. Some of the common problems we witnessed were malnutrition, stunted growth and untreated medical emergencies that have now become chronically painful. Dental problems were by far the most common ailment we saw, but we were not qualified to assess or treat these. While proper hygiene could prevent many of these problems, these children tend not to have available to them the structure, guidance and leadership for healthy habits. We hope to assign new volunteers at this detention center soon to provide on-going assistance with cleaning, hygiene and a gentle human touch. For most of these children, a gentle human touch is a rare gift with healing powers. Therefore, the value of this cannot be underestimated.
Many thanks to all the volunteers who took part; it was much appreciated by all involved.
Author: Kelly Allen-Projects Abroad volunteer, midwifery project, June 2010
By Alex Marquaroll - who took part in the Nomad Project and also a Care placement earlier this year.
*The Mongolians are very proud of their Chingis Khan, because he united the several Mongolian tribes and he had the biggest empire ever.
*The market in UB (Ulaanbaatar) is the biggest in Asia.
*Mongolia, for me was more of an adventure and a challenge than a holiday.
*The hospitality of the Mongolians is great; you will never get hungry or thirsty.
*When you live with the nomads, you can feel alone, but sometimes it is good for you to be alone.
*Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world.
*Even after two and half months, i still have a problem trying to find the correct pronunciation for thank you in Mongolian.
*I thought the Mongolian women were the tallest and nicest in the world. At the end of my stay i realised that they like to wear high-heel shoes, but for me they are still the nicest.
*You should visit a Mongolian ensemble. The throat singers, traditional dance acts, acrobatics and the different instruments players are amazing.
*When you enter a ger, you should go head first and then with your feet this is more polite.
*Don’t whistle in an apartment or a ger, because it means bad luck for the owners.
*When you enter a ger, the left side is female part, and the right side is male part.
*Don’t cross the two vertical woods ticks in the middle of the ger, when you are not married.
*When you step on someone’s shoes, you have to shake the hands. This is polite.
*This is a Mongolian proverb: to see a wolf brings you luck, to touch a wolf brings you more luck, to shoot a wolf brings you luck until the end of your days.
*The Mongolians love to eat the head of a sheep.
*When you are standing at the top of a mountain, you can hear nothing but your own breath, and your footstamps in the snow.
*The country side is amazing and very beautiful, it looks like a painting and i had the feeling i am in the land of giants.
*In the countryside you can see sometimes the milky way at night.
*In the gobi, there are places where you can see the sunrise and sunset during one day at the same place.
*One day i asked the driver of our van, how far away are the mountains at the horizon, he didn’t know, but he said he needs two days by car to get there. Never before in my life, had i seen such a large view.
*Children understood my Mongolian much better than the adults.
*In Mongolia these are no stables anywhere so the animals eat green grass, the whole day.
*You will be the star of the orphanage if you buy some candy every morning before you go to work.
*It is a lot of fun to ride a half-wild horse, but the day after I was in pain in the rear!
*Oogii (supervisor from projects abroad ) likes to walk on the pavements and during this, she looks very gracious.
*Sayo ( supervisor from projects abroad) likes horseriding more than going up 108 steps of the meditation temple near from the turtle rock.
*Pay attention to your possessions. I have lost my camera, mobile phone and gloves but also i lost a part of my heart for Mongolia.
*Mongolia is not Europe, Mongolia is Mongolia and i want to come back again, but the next time will be in the summer.
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