ERA rallies pass through some fantastic countries and Mongolia has to be at the top of that list for many. The beauty of the country itself is breath taking, but this beauty is not always reflected in the lives of many of the people who live there. It is a country where conditions can be very unforgiving.
During the harsh winter of 2012 when temperatures dropped below -40°C there was a 70% loss of livestock. Without their animals or any source of income increasing numbers of nomadic farmers added to an existing trend by seeking work in the cities. Mongolia already had problems with alcohol and unemployment and this massive influx from the countryside only made things worse. The outcome is often devastating for families. Many young women turn to prostitution and when a pregnancy occurs many babies are abandoned.
This is where the Lotus Children’s Centre helps. It is a charity set up 22 years ago by an Australian, Didi Ananda Kalika, to care for and educate abandoned, abused and orphaned babies and children in Ulaanbaatar. They currently have about 100 children in their care, including a small group of teenage boys in Erdenet, a copper mining town in northern Mongolia.
The ERA was first introduced to the Lotus Children’s Centre in 2013. Philip Young had heard about the charity from our Mongolian agent and was very impressed by the results they achieve, especially as no child is ever turned away. It left him with a desire to help and we would like to contribute to this valuable and dedicated work in Philip’s memory.
The majority of the children stay with Lotus until they reach adulthood and the greatest challenge the charity faces for the older teenagers is managing the transition from the security of the care system to being fully independent. Lotus encourages and supports the young adults into higher education, or to attend training courses where they can learn a trade, but all of this costs money. The Lotus Children’s Centre receives no state support.
Fraser McColl, who is a volunteer for the charity visited us recently to talk about the work they do and explained with the money we raise, they would like to start a fund for further education or training for these older children. This would enable them to live an independent life and to prepare them for living in the ‘big wide world’. Their long term aim is to have a fully staffed and equipped training centre on the same site as the orphanage and we are very excited at the prospect of working with them to achieve this.
We raised in excess of $3000 in 2013 for Farm Africa by selling extra hotel rooms and taking in unwanted currency. We want to do the same, or even better, for the Lotus Children’s Centre on the 2016 Peking to Paris Rally. We would very much appreciate your support.
The charity also has a wish list of items which they would like to be donated. We will send this list to you in our next newsletter but to give you an example it includes, used training shoes (in good condition) which are always in demand. If each Peking to Paris crew brought one pair of training shoes with them, there would be enough for every child in the orphanage, now that’s a thought!
We intend visiting the orphanage on our day off in Ulaanbaatar in 2016 to present them with items from their wish list and would encourage you all to come along to see the wonderful work they do. The children will be delighted to meet you!
You can of course donate money yourselves and if you would like to know more……