After a stroke left her paralyzed, one single mother in Mongolia considered taking her own life. But empowered by the support of Holt sponsors, she regained hope — and her children regained the courageous woman they call mom.
The year 2010 was an especially brutal year in Mongolia. A devastating summer drought followed by an extreme winter — a weather phenomenon known as dzud — wiped out millions of livestock and affected the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of already struggling families. While distressing for the population, this pendulum of weather is nothing new for Mongolia, where winter temperatures can plummet to as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and summers are often short but very humid.
But the 2009-2010 season was unusual in Mongolia. The winters were much colder, and the summers were much hotter.
Even today, 114 million youth around the world are illiterate — 59 percent of them girls and young women. Literacy is the foundation of education, and with an education, children can pursue their dreams and overcome poverty in their communities.
Through Holt’s educational programs, vulnerable children learn to read, write and gain other fundamental skills. As one of our most recent projects, we helped open a library for children in Mongolia.
But children need more than just books to learn to read and write. They need pencils and pens and notebooks and paper — supplies that many families struggle to provide.
And in most districts, schools are so overcrowded that classes take place in shifts, after which children must fend for themselves, with no safe or warm place nearby for them to go. This often leads to children engaging with dangerous life on the streets, and sometimes even getting separated from their families.
But with educational support from Holt sponsors, these children have a bright future.
In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Holt strives to meet the changing needs of 15-year-old Batbayar, a boy with cerebral palsy who is growing too big — and too smart — for his environment.
When I meet Batbayar*, he sits over a lunch of mutton stew, flipping through the latest fall catalog of a local department store. Although Batbayar has cognitive delays as well as cerebral palsy — a neurological condition that affects his muscle coordination and physical movement — he is obviously very bright, and insatiably curious. As he eats his lunch, the caregivers keep an eye on him to ensure he is managing the fine motor tasks needed to use his utensils. He responds to their inquiries with a smile and a glint in his playful eyes. He pays close attention to the other children, the caregivers, and the strange visitors in the room — observing everyone with utmost curiosity between bites of stew.
Batbayar is unique. As one of the few children in the Rainbow Unit who is able to feed himself, he gets the luxury of eating at a leisurely pace.
Batbayar spends his days in this colorful, sun-filled room with the nine other children with special needs who live at the National Children’s Sanatorium (NCS) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This room has plenty of windows to let in the sun and a view of the outside world. It is directly attached to their sleeping quarters, dining room and bathroom. Also, just down the hall is an extensive therapy room, where the children receive regular physical therapy. Continue reading “A Bright, Curious Mind”
If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. – Albert Einstein
In my travels for Holt’s child nutrition program (CNP), I occasionally have the happy coincidence of being able to visit other, non-CNP-related Holt programs. Recently, when conducting a formal needs assessment for CNP with one of our partners in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, I was lucky enough to participate in the grand opening of Holt’s newest and truly inspirational family strengthening program in the same city.
Holt’s new after-school program in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is located in the social welfare office of the poorest district in the city, Songino Khairkhan district. This district is often informally called the “Ger district,” as many families live in traditional ger dwellings instead of permanent housing throughout the area. Despite the long, brutally cold winters here, few families in the Ger district can afford a brick and mortar home. Continue reading “Holt Opens a Library for Children in Impoverished District of Mongolia”
In the areas where Holt has programs in Mongolia, access to books and educational opportunities is very limited for children. Schools are filled beyond capacity — forcing children to attend in shifts. And with few after-school activities, children often spend their afternoons playing in the streets. To help give children a more safe and constructive place to spend their time, Holt has funded a much-needed library and after-school program in one of the poorest districts of Ulaanbaatar. This will not only create a place for children to hang out, but it will also give them priceless access to books — including books in English.
At the end of April, Holt staff are traveling to Mongolia for the grand opening of the library, and they would like to arrive with as many children’s books as their suitcases can hold (so, about 200 pounds worth). We need your help to meet our goal!
If you would like to donate new or gently used books to children in Mongolia, please mail them or drop them off at our headquarters office before April 27, 2016. Mail or drop off books at 250 Country Club Road, Eugene, OR 97402 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Any book suitable for children 3-14 years old is perfect for this cause.
Holt expands our family strengthening work in Mongolia by funding an after-school program and library in an impoverished district of the country’s capital.
In the Songin Khairhan district of Mongolia, one of the poorest in the country’s capital of Ulaanbaatar, sits a social services building, an office where families come to receive support and services for themselves and their children. Since 2010, Holt International and its partners in Mongolia have provided relief for these families — many of whom have traveled from Mongolia’s countryside to find work — in the form of support that enables them to obtain nutritious food, medical services and educational materials.
In the coming months, Holt hopes to transform one of the rooms of this humble social services building into a fully functioning library and after-school program. “The children in this area love to read and need a safe place to go when they aren’t in school,” Paul Kim, Holt’s director of programs for Korea and Mongolia, says.
For many years, Holt has, with great admiration, witnessed once-struggling mothers in our family strengthening programs achieve amazing accomplishments for the health and well-being of their children. These mothers worked 15-hour days, earning pennies so that their children could eat and attend school. In Thailand, a mother took a job sewing palm tree leaves together for a mere $2 a day to help her 14-year-old daughter stay in school. In Haiti, a mother worked two jobs to support her daughters after her husband died in the 2010 earthquake.
Mothers would do anything for their children. They would give up everything just to see their children thrive and succeed in life. And nothing brings Holt greater joy than to help these mothers succeed for their children. When you purchase a Gift of Hope today, you help mothers help their children, too! Chickens can help a widow feed her children nutritious eggs. When you purchase a “vocational training” Gift of Hope, a single mother could learn the valuable skills she needs to earn a steady income and help her family stay together.
By helping mothers, you help children! By purchasing a Gift of Hope today, you will change lives.