2020 Year-End Top Priority: Children Living in the Garbage Dump

You can help rush food, masks and other emergency supplies to children living in the dump in Mongolia — children like Purev.

“The harshness of this environment… it is just not a place where children should be,” says Paul Kim, director of programs for Korea and Mongolia. “[It’s not a place] where anyone should be, really — but especially not children.”

But nevertheless, this place — a garbage dump outside of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia — is home to dozens of children and their families. Including Purev and her family.

Purev, her mother and five siblings stand outside their ger near the garbage dump in Ulaanbaatar.

Purev’s Story

Purev lives with her single mom and five siblings just outside the garbage dump. Her mother’s only steady source of income is the child support she receives each month from the government. But this isn’t enough to survive on. So that’s why Purev and her family live near the dump – to try and survive on the edible food and sellable recyclables they collect from it.

But since Mongolia implemented quarantine measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Purev’s mom hasn’t been able to sell the recyclables she gathers. Their family’s income became next to nothing.

Since Mongolia implemented quarantine measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Purev’s mom hasn’t been able to sell the recyclables she gathers. Their family’s income became next to nothing.

Purev and her siblings used to attend the Red Stone School, a safe place for children from the dump to learn and receive a warm, nutritious meal every day. But the Red Stone School had to close amidst COVID restrictions, and Purev and her siblings lost that stable daily meal. School resumed for a couple months at the beginning of the year, but when a second wave of COVID threatened Mongolia in November, the schools once again had to close.

Holt staff was able to provide some emergency food relief to Purev and her family, but as the pandemic continues, their needs just increase more and more.

Purev and her family are struggling to survive. And their desperate situation is multi-faceted.

“Aside from the burden of providing food for her children, she has many other challenges in this pandemic time,” a Holt staff member in Mongolia shares about Purev’s mother. “Protecting ourselves and others through proper handwashing and hygiene practice has never been more important, but basic water and hygiene facilities are out of reach for this family because they don’t have access to running tap water.”

Struggling to Survive

Life was already difficult for children and families living near this garbage dump in Mongolia. But since the pandemic, it’s become even harder.

These children need food each day, and basic essentials like soap, clean water and masks to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic.

They also need support in their education. Without digital devices or even electricity, learning is impossible while school is out of session. But even more worrisome is that once out of school, it can be unlikely for children to return. In this difficult time, many children have helped to provide an income for their family by rummaging for recyclables in the dump. And even this very small added income is difficult for families to lose. Once schools are back open, it’s essential that these children receive the support they need to return to the Red Stone School.

How You Can Help

When you give to the President’s Top Priority Fund Campaign for Children 2020, you will help provide the following (and more) to children living near the garbage dump and children in need all around the world:

  • Masks, hand sanitizer, soap and other COVID-19 supplies
  • Emergency food such as flour, rice and cooking oil
  • Support to help children return to the Red Stone School
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