Day 5 – Visiting a rehabilitation centre
We got an internal flight very early in the morning to Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia. The flight was about three hours long and we flew over mountains, steps and desert. The scenery was so spectacular, and every now and again we would see a few ‘gers’ or small houses. We got two hours sleep when we arrived at the hotel then went to see the rehabillitation centre named ‘Hope’.
The centre consisted of two ‘gers’. There was a doctor who also owned a room full of excersising equipment that the children could use to build up their strength, and so were more likely to be able to walk afterwards. One ‘ger’ had equipment such as games and other excersising equipment. The other ‘ger’ simply had a table. Both ‘gers’ had bright orange painted frames. The disabled children were sitting at the table dunking chocolate biscuits in their drinks when we arrived. We gave them some coloured paper and pencils and they immediately took interest. Most the children spoke Kazakh as Bayan-Ulgii is very close to Kazakhstan, but many were learning Mongolian. Their mothers were also there, standing around them. We also got to meet the tradtional doctor who volunteers at the centre. We got to go in his ‘ger’ where he offered us Mongolian yogurt made from yaks milk. It was very sour and lumpy but somehow still had quite a nice taste to it! His home was decorated entirely by wall hangings made by his wife. They were all very brightly coloured and patterned. One wall hanging took about one month to make.
After visiting the centre, which we thought had been very successful as about 50 children had been attending, we went to a meeting held in the educational building. In the room where the meeting was held was a MASSIVE TV screen. It was upsetting how lots of money had been spent on this instead of things that people in Bayan-Ulgii really needed- such as water. The Mongolians working at the centre and the staff from Save the Children (and also our grandparents) discussed many issues. For example, buying a disabled toilet, as the children practically just use a hole in the ground. However this would be expensive as the ‘ger’ is often moved about and if it was outside it wouldn’t be accessible in the icy winter.
The Mongolians and people from Kazakhstan were hoping to move the rehab centre into a building in the future anyway. If this plan were to go ahead, and they were to recieve enough money, then the toilet issue would be sorted out. They also discussed how there are more than 200 disbaled children in Bayan-ulgii, meaning many were not receiving rehabillitation help. Building another centre would be expensive so Save The Children suggested having mentor parents, like in Ulaanbaatar. Mentor parents go around families and help the families out in their own homes. Booklets and DVDs made by Save The Children were also given out. They contained lots of information and diagrams. The booklets included information of how to help people teach disabled children to do certain things- like putting on their own clothes. Our grandparents had also bought a computer with the spare project money, as this was requested by the nurse that worked at the rehabillitation centre. This was given and was greatly appriciated.
We then went to meet a family who use eagles for hunting. Eagles have amazing eye sight so they can easily hunt animals, such as foxes. They grab the animals by putting their claws into the prey’s eyes. The eagle wore a little hat covering its eyes because if it didn’t have this it would by more likely to attack small children. We were able to hold the eagle on our arms when wearing a glove. It was very heavy!
After that we visited a family. The house had been built by the father, who worked at the rehabillitation centre, and the home consisted of many rooms and a well. The rooms were filled with the objects that we find in our homes in the UK, like TVs, sofas, mirrors, framed pictures and even hair straighteners! This showed the family were much more well off than the previous families we had visted. In the family was one disabled child who was 13. She had an older sister who was 19 and her sister spoke very good English — and German! There was also another disabled girl there who was very shy. I drew a few pictures with her and she seemed very artistic, filling pages with lots of squiggles as I handed her different coloured pens.
We then went to a shop full of lovely Kazakh handmade bags which had been embroided beautifully, like the rugs we’d seen in the doctors home. Everyone who went to the shop (about eight of us) bought something, as the bags were so nice — not too expensive and the money would definitely go to the people who made them.
Next we went to the black market. It had many things, but mostly sweets and clothes. The stalls were very close together and there was basically stuff everywhere! There were also a few cows wondering around, and we even saw bits of animal, like their hooves, laying on the ground.
When we got back to the hotel my sister, two staff members from Save The Children and I went to find dinner. As we were walking we met a man who was travelling the world in his truck. There was a ladder going to the top of the truck, with a tent on the roof which he slept in. He was from Istanbul and spoke very good English. He explained he’d been to Kazakhstan and Russia, and that he would explore Mongolia for a bit before travelling to many other countries in the world such as Alaska. He was very inspiring.
We then found dinner at an empty but pleasant restaurant. We ordered food but nearlly everything on the menu they didn’t have. For example they only had one egg. In the end we ended up waiting for an hour as we watched the people that worked there fetch vegetables from the outside and bring them into the kitchen. They kept coming back with different vegetables, such as tomatoes and cucumbers. The dinner was amazing, the best meal we have had here. We gave them a big tip at the end for all the effort they put into the meal for us!