News from Mongolia...

Blue sky poem This poem was written by one of these children and won the 2nd prize in a national contest of poetry in Mongolia.
For a better understanding, we offer here an English translation.

Blue sky is deep and clear they say but it doesn’t look to me so …

Never wanted to cry so many tears from my eyes
Never searched for a cheap life, hurting my soul
A thought of a shattering future makes the world even darker - and it hurts me
My trust, my belief is gone with strangers - and it breaks me

I flee from my past because it made me sad
I couldn’t save it, as she left me, my childhood and naiveness
I couldn’t forget, when she was lost for someone’s greediness
I can’t let passion and desire light me anymore

Blue sky is deep and clear they say - but it doesn’t look to me so
Because my soul is dark
Gliding water is deep and clear they say – but it doesn’t look to me so
Because my soul is lost in void

Bujinhand, 15 years old, 2007

Geographical background

Geographical background

Caught between Russia to the north and China to the south, Mongolia has no direct access to the rest of the world other than by crossing or overflying its two neighbours. Its huge territory contains very little arable land: it is mountainous and covered by steppes that become increasingly arid as they stretch south to the Gobi, the most northerly desert on earth.

mongolie-carteNearly 30% of its 2.97 million people are nomadic or semi-nomadic. Nearly a third of the population lives in the capital, Ulan Bator.

Mongolia has the world’s lowest population density: 1.7 inhabitants per square kilometre.

The main religion is Tibetan Buddhism, and 80% of its people are of Mongol extraction.

The traditional way of life involves the raising of huge herds of sheep, horses, cashmere goats, yaks and Bactrian camels, but it has become increasingly precarious with the concentration of herding in the hands of large owners, and an exodus to the big cities. In the capital, migrants from the steppes find life very difficult, gravitating to the “ger districts” or shantytowns surrounding the city, which have no running water, electricity or sanitation.

mongolie-brebisNevertheless, Mongolia is rich in material resources such as copper and coal, which have contributed to its economic growth over the last two decades. Most economic activity is now concentrated in Ulan Bator, one of the most polluted capitals in the world.

The city’s main sources of energy are three coal-fired thermal power stations which, combined with the domestic use of coal stoves in the vast majority of the yurts (ger in Mongolian) for heating in winter and cooking year-round, push pollution indexes to very high levels.

Public health is seriously affected, and a correlation has even been observed with the women’s fertility rate.

mongolie-capitaleMongolian is the official language.

The unit of currency is the tughrik (MNT).

The basis of the Mongolian diet consists of mutton and dairy products. Few fruits or vegetables are produced locally; those that are available come mainly from China, and are unaffordable for many families.

Le The climate is very similar to that of Quebec, since Mongolia lies at the same latitude as the inhabited portion of our province. However, the air is drier in Mongolia.

History in a nutshell

History in a nutshell

mongolie-genghisMongolia was the centre of the Mongol Empire ruled in the 13th century by Genghis Khan, who remains a great national hero, and was subsequently governed by the Manchu Qing Dynasty from the end of the 17th century until 1911, when Mongolian independence was declared following the fall of the Chinese Empire. While it remained officially independent during the Soviet era (1920 to 1990), the policies of the Mongolian People’s Republic nevertheless hewed strictly to the Moscow line. After the end of the Cold War and the fall of communism in Mongolia in 1990, it adopted a democratic constitution in 1992.

(Source : Wikipedia)

Politics and the economy

Politics and the economy

mongolie-minesThe transition from communism to democracy was not always a smooth one. While under communism, the state was responsible for health, education, pensions and the like, the switch to a market economy left significant gaps in services. The multitude of international NGOs that became established in Mongolia to help the country cope with the transition have since left, and the country has experienced unprecedented economic growth over the last 20 years. Growth is slowing, however, and many problems remain particularly for those who are poor, whereas community life and the effort to cope with social issues are seriously deficient.

Why FDG is in Mongolia

Why FDG is in Mongolia

mongolie-enfantsIt was during their initial trip to the country in 1996 that FDG’s founders were touched by the plight of Mongolia’s children. After the adoption of two Mongolian children and the establishment of the Foundation, an initial collaboration with Save the Children included measures to assist vulnerable children in Mongolia, where those aged 0-18 make up 33% of the population, and 27.4% are under 15.

(Source: Mongolian Ministry of Health website)

Since 2010, FDG has had an office in Ulan Bator, and an FDG coordinator works on site to develop new partnerships and manage the grants awarded to a dozen organizations in the capital area, while adhering to the principles of neighbourly philanthropy practised by the Foundation.

Where FDG operates

Where FDG operates

mongolie-mamanWhile in theory, access to education is universal in Mongolia, many schools – especially those in the ger districts – are underequipped in terms of teaching materials. Every year, FDG donates grants to ensure adequate school supplies for selected schools. It also makes it possible for children to attend summer camps that provide a healthy living experience close to nature.

FDG also supports multidisciplinary groups addressing the problem of family violence. It contributes to parent groups that mentor families that include one or more children with disabilities. It also supports organizations that provide alternatives for children who are working in garbage dumps or have been recruited into the sex trade.