Without a job, Tserenjargal didn’t know how she could provide for her three children. Their poverty was far-reaching. But then she received the Gift of Hope of a business microloan, and this reached even further.
The sub-zero wind whips Tserenjargal’s hair across her face as she trudges through the icy ruts leading back to her home.
Both arms full of rubber tire shreds and other plastics, she looks behind her to make sure her young daughter is following. Trying to help, her daughter holds two small pieces of trash in each of her hands.
They step into their ger — a traditional Mongolian, yurt-like home — where the air is only slightly less icy. Ariumbold, Tserenjargal’s husband, and their two other daughters sit on the bed. One of them is just a baby. Arimbold had a severe head injury earlier this year, and the doctors say he may never be the same. He certainly isn’t able to work.
Tserenjargal piles most of the tires and rubber outside their door, but takes some of it inside. She opens the small door to their stove, puts the garbage in and ignites it.
Immediately, the familiar, toxic fumes of burning plastic fill their home — and their lungs. But the warmth brings a welcome relief to the desperate cold.
For families living near Ulaanbaatar’s largest garbage dump, winter is all about survival. Day after day, they fight for it — doing everything they can to stay warm in subzero temperatures. But without enough food, they face an even greater struggle to survive. For this family, food is scarce. And the cold feels even more chilling on an empty stomach.
Poverty is far-reaching. But so is hope. And for this family, hope came in the form of a special gift from someone far away.
It was 2010 when Holt social workers in Mongolia learned about this family. And immediately, someone like you stepped up to help — sending emergency food as a Gift of Hope. Immediately, Holt staff brought them rice, flour and vegetables — staples to supplement their meager diet. And then others stepped up with emergency warm clothes and medicine for the two youngest children, who were very sick at the time.
Through these generous Gifts of Hope, they got through the harsh winter.
But when you step up and give to a family, you not only help them survive — you empower them to thrive. These emergency provisions were just a first step.
When sponsors began supporting this family’s two school-aged daughters, they both began attending a school where they would receive a nourishing hot lunch every day.
Right away, in 2010, social workers helped Tserenjargal get a job, one that would create a steady, although small, income for her family.
Tserenjargal began saving their earnings, spending just the amount that they needed each month for food, coal for their stove and other essentials. And before long, she had 100 Mongolian tughrik — the equivalent of $40. This, combined with her Gift of Hope microloan, came together to change everything for their family.
With this money, she purchased pine nuts wholesale, then began selling them in the marketplace. She generated even more income. And with more income came consistently nutritious meals, clean water, the ability to purchase a new ger (with a small loan), buy a washing machine and so much more.
A consistent income meant stability.
Today, 10 years later, all three of their girls are in school, and doing very well! Tserenjargal regularly speaks with their teachers and is so proud of her daughters’ achievements. She works hard at her business to provide everything they need, but unlike before, her hard work now pays off!
“Holt’s support was such a blessing to my family,” Tserenjargal says. “Now I have hope and pride in raising my children. The girls can concentrate on their education and I dream of a better future for them.” Tserenjargal is empowered, energized and equipped to work hard to provide for her family
This winter, temperatures will again plunge below zero. But they will be OK.
There is enough food for three nutritious meals a day. And when Tserenjargal gets home from work and her three girls get home from school to begin their homework, their new ger — heated with wood or coal — keeps them warm.
Megan Herriott | Staff Writer