While domestic violence has become a growing issue in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, only one shelter remains open for the dozens of women and children who seek refuge here every year. Earlier this year, with a loss in government funding, the shelter nearly closed it doors.
Och* leans into her mom – making herself as physically close to her as possible.
Och is 4 years old, with shiny black, braided hair, a red striped dress and knee-high boots. She is shy of strangers, and whispers into her mom’s ear as she eats the sugar cube that came with her mom’s tea. Her mom, Bayarmaa*, is 29 and has the same dark shiny hair as her youngest daughter. It’s late morning on a Tuesday in May, and Och’s older sister — a third grader — is currently away at school.
But neither of Bayarmaa’s daughters like being away from their mom for long. And they never, ever want to be left alone.
Bayarmaa sits with her hands tucked between her knees, and her shoulders curved protectively inward.
“How are you feeling now?” we ask her.
Tears start forming in the corners of her eyes.
“The most important mission in my life,” she says, “is to raise my children safe, and to give them all the education they can get. I will support them in every way.” Continue reading “It’s Safe Here”