PM-International’s partner World Vision has been working in Mongolia for almost 12 years. One of the area programs – Zuunkharaa – is now in its final stages. That means World Vision will start handing over the responsibility to the community and government. Reason enough for PM’s Charity Ambassador Vicki Sorg to see how far the region has come. In November, a 12-hour flight took her from Luxembourg to Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar. As in her previous journeys to Cambodia, Indonesia, Ghana, and India, she met with sponsored children and their families, and visited projects supported by World Vision our PM-International business partners and customers who contribute to our sponsored children (1.300) by consuming and selling our FitLine brand products.
Warm Welcome to the Land of the Blue Sky
After driving five hours across Mongolia’s sweeping landscape, Vicki and Juliana Goessmann (World Vision Germany), arrived at a nomadic herder’s camp near the Noyon Mountain in the north of the country. The community leader of the nomadic camp, Batsukh, and family Loosoi awaited them. Some dressed in traditional colorful gowns, others dressed in normal clothes. The kids welcomed Vicki and Juliana in Mongolian tradition with fresh cow milk and fermented horse milk (a kind of beer, special drink for guests because horses are such an important part of their culture) into their ger (round shaped tent).
Where Help is Needed Most
When people in poverty-stricken areas have business ideas, they usually lack start-up capital and know-how. That is why World Vision supports the creation of saving groups of small entrepreneurs, who collectively receive microcredits, training and build their own existence, such as a small craft business.
One family, for example, received a sewing machine from World Vision. Cooperating with a local glove manufacturer, the parents use the support effectively to secure their family’s income. They spend their money, amongst other things, on their children’s well-being. Their daughter Nanda has also been one of PM’s sponsored children for the past two years. Shy but proud, she shows Vicki a wall curtained with medals she won in sports competitions she was able to participate in thanks to her family’s financial independence. Today, she is 17 years old, about to graduate from school and on the brink to adulthood herself. Her road map for the future is drawn. She will move to Ulaanbaatar and study at the university to become a police officer.
Education is Key
Speaking of education: it’s another pillar World Vision Mongolia invests in. Because, although education is obligatory, schools and kindergartens in Mongolian cities are often overcrowded. Large parts of rural areas lack appropriate facilities altogether. In order to go to school, children of rural areas spend all year living at the school, returning back home to see their families only for the holidays. Vicki and Juliana had the opportunity to visit a school in the Mandal district. After-school clubs (arts and crafts, English, self-protection, self-defense), funded with the monies from child sponsorships, prepare the children for everyday life and promote their individual creativity. Projects like these, of course are not restricted to single sponsored children but benefit the greater good.
“Of course, we always talk about the number of our sponsored children, but what is important to remember is that it’s not only single children, who benefit from World Vision projects, it’s whole regions and communities. That’s what really makes a difference. It’s great to see time and time again how many hearts our love touches,” says Vicki.
A Never-Ending Journey
Hands down, the most inspiring story of this trip comes from a local employee of World Vision. Otgonkhuu, aka Bombi, accompanied Vicki and Juliana, taking pictures along the way. He’s 29 years old and has been working with World Vision for six years. He used to be one of their sponsored children. For 10 years he benefited from health and education projects, which changed his life forever. As an adult, he decided to become part of building a brighter future and contribute to his community. He himself is now sponsoring a little 6-year old boy, who incidentally has the same name and even looks a little bit like him too. Bombi says:
“Sponsorship didn’t stop when I turned 18. It continues in my heart by having lived through the experience. It has inspired me to contribute to my community by becoming part of World Vision myself and supporting children who still have that journey ahead of them.”