Should We Buy a Ger?

These children in Mongolia needed a new gerWhen Mongolian adoptee Melissa gave a ger as a Gift of Hope to a child and family in need in Mongolia, it began a special connection to a child living in her birth country.

Hello, my name is Melissa and I am your sponsor. When I was younger, my name was Davaasetseg, which is very similar to your name, Battsetseg. I do not know if you were told this, but I was adopted from Mongolia at the age of 3…

These were the first lines of the first letter I sent to my sponsored child, Battsetseg, just last July. A year ago, I never would have guessed I would be corresponding with a child from my birth country of Mongolia! But it all started last Christmas, when my family decided to give a Gift of Hope…

In my family, like many, part of how we celebrate the holidays is by giving and receiving gifts. Last Christmas, we received Holt’s Gifts of Hope catalog, and looked at all the different kinds of gifts you could give to a family in need. We saw an image of a young boy proudly standing in front of a ger, which prompted my mom to ask, “Should we buy a ger?”

give a ger as a Gift of Hope

Initially, I was unsure of the feasibility of buying a ger for a family in Mongolia. How would this work? Which family would be chosen to receive our gift? All these questions loomed in my mind until I decided to go on Holt’s website and see if I could find out any more information about the ger donation. I read the story, “Never Their Fault,” describing a group of Holt donors who took a trip to Mongolia to build gers, and I immediately knew that donating a ger was something I wanted to do. In the story, a young Mongolian boy was upset when he saw another family receive a ger. Seeing his reaction, and their family’s intense need, some of the donors on the trip generously decided to build his family one on the spot! This answered all my questions. It was possible!

From there, my family and I decided to reach out to Holt and ask about moving forward with donating a ger to a Mongolian family.

When we called Holt, we explained that I was one of three children my parents adopted through Holt international. After adopting my two siblings from South Korea, my parents adopted me from Mongolia. Since adopting us, my parents have sponsored one child from South Korea and one child from Mongolia.

We were soon connected with Paul Kim, Holt’s director of programs for Korea and Mongolia. Amazingly, Paul remembered me from my adoption 17 years ago!

Adopted from Mongolia
Paul Kim, who still works with Holt’s Mongolia and Korea programs, helped facilitate Melissa’s adoption 17 years ago!

Paul told us he was getting ready to take a trip to Mongolia and knew of a family that could use the donation of our ger. Before we knew it, a ger was being built for a family in Mongolia because of our Gift of Hope!

Battsetseg draws a picture of the ger her family received from Melissa and her family!

We learned that the ger was going to a single mother and her children in Mongolia who were struggling after the passing of her husband. One of the children in the family is a young girl named Battsetseg. When I heard that name, I was reminded of my own Mongolian name: Davaasetseg, which means “Tuesday’s flower.” The “setseg” part of the names means flower, so I learned that Battsetseg means “strong flower.” I was so excited to learn how similar our names were!

give a ger to a child
Here’s the picture that Melissa received from Battsetseg!

Since we gave this family a ger and I first learned about Battsetseg, I decided to become Battsetseg’s sponsor. Now, every month, I get an update about Battsetseg and how she is doing.

Currently, Battsetseg is enrolled in the Red Stone School, a school that provides education, warm meals and support to children in Mongolia who live near Ulaanbaatar’s largest garbage dump.

I’ve loved seeing how Battsetseg has grown and changed, even in this short time. Over the summer, I wrote a letter to Battsetseg. I introduced myself as her sponsor and explained that I was adopted from Mongolia. When I received a response back, from Battsetseg’s brother, there were pictures of Battsetseg with another Holt worker, Tsembel. During my mother’s trip to Mongolia, Tsembel met my mom and helped finalize my adoption. Apparently, she remembered me well and enjoyed sharing the letter to Battsetseg and her family.

The ability to connect with a Mongolian family and reconnect with Holt staff has been extremely rewarding. It’s amazing and humbling to think that the same Holt staff who helped with my adoption are now helping me to give back!

give a ger to a child in need

As Battsetseg’s sponsor, I’m so glad I can support her in her education. Having been raised by a math teacher, I have always understood the importance of education. I truly believe everyone should have the opportunity to receive a good education. It’s heartbreaking to know that Battsetseg at one point had to drop out of school because her family just didn’t have the money to send her to school. I am very passionate about supporting Battsetseg’s education and am so encouraged to see her attend the Red Stone School. I hopes that it will provide her many opportunities in the future.

Ultimately, I hope that Battsetseg understands that it is a gift to me to be able to be her sponsor. The idea that I gave a ger as a Gift of Hope does not convey the fact that I also received a wonderful gift as well: a connection to my birth country. A large part of me enjoys the ability to connect with a country and culture that always seemed a world away. Selfishly, I enjoy the connection I have with Battsetseg and her family, being a Mongolian adoptee. However, I understand the reality that I will not be Battsetseg’s sponsor forever.

Someday, hopefully she and her family will be stable enough to not need the support of a sponsor anymore. I’ve watched as my parents have sponsored multiple children from both South Korea and Mongolia. But in the meantime, I am grateful for the gift of Battsetseg and hope that she has a bright future ahead of her.

Melissa | Mongolian Adoptee & Holt Child Sponsor

Check out Holt’s Gifts of Hope online catalog and all of the different life-changing gifts you could give to a family in need 

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