Day 6 and 7 in the land of blue sky
We left in the morning to go to a city called Khovd by car. This took about six hours. This worried us a bit because the driver was getting married the next day so we thought he would have to drive back late and in the dark. The journey was along very bumpy roads through mountains, small rivers and very dry areas- which looked a bit like deserts. The landscape was so beautiful the whole journey and the sky was so incredibly blue. This is why Mongolia is known as ‘The land of blue sky’. We stopped several times on the way to Khovd.
We stopped to paddle in a crystal clear lake. We also stopped when we saw some yaks, an eagle and a huge group of camels! We also stopped for lunch where we gave some stationery to some of the children who lived next to the little restaurant. I don’t think some of them knew how to use pencils and paper because our grandpa had to demonstrate. We stopped again to take pictures of the snowy mountains. There had been much more snow on them but most of it had melted because of global warming. It was strange seeing this for real after learning about it at school.
My sister and I had sour milk and rice for dinner, which I think was the first meal I disliked.
Firstly we visited a rehabillitation centre, held in a hospital. The centre was very small but contained lots of equipment which the children needed. The mothers of the disabled children were there and explained how their children had become disabled. There was a blind baby. The mother said her baby smiled whenever she called his name. I found this sad because the baby would never get to smile from seeing his mother’s face, unlike most babys.
There was also an epileptic girl. The mother cried as she explained the girl had fallen and they’d found out she was epileptic three years after the fall. The mother wanted money for her daughter to have an operation, but staff from Save The Children had to explain they could only help people in groups or communities and not individually. There was also a very talented little girl who had been born with dislocated hips. She had an operation on them but unfortunately this went wrong. She’d then had six other operations afterwards to try and fix the damage the first operation had done. This meant cutting through the muscle, which made the problem worse as she is now very weak in the legs. She may never get to walk properly.
After visiting the children a meeting was held in the hospital. A few parents, people who worked at the centre, and a doctor attended, as well as the staff from Save The Children. There was a lot of thanks to our grandparents and Save The Children, because the rehabillitation centre had been a huge success for the children, the mothers and the community. Booklets from Save The Children were given out (the same as the other rehabillitation centre we had been to). One type of booklet was for the teachers. The other was training for the parents to start there own ‘mentor parents’ like in Ulaanbataar. Even though mentor parents do not get paid, they really make a difference to families with disabled children. Most mentor parents have disbaled children so they can understand other families’ situations and give them help and advice.
We then went to a kindergarten which Save The Children had funded in 2001. The children weren’t there as they were on holiday. However it was still good to see how the school was. Is was very brightly coloured with Snow White painted on one of the walls, lots of miniture chairs, tables, shelves and even miniture toilets! We were cooked a very huge lunch there, which consisted of extremely fresh fish.
After what had already been an extremely busy day we went to a summer camp held in ‘gers’ near to the river, where the grass was at its greenest. The children were so adorable and many had just woken up from a nap. We sang a very out of tune ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ to them and then they sang and danced for us outside in the sun. They were all so talented and just so unbelievably cute!
Later on we went to a ‘ger’ camp for dinner. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It was next to the river, amoung the many horses and goats, underneath a perfectly blue sky with eagles, and was surrounded by the orange-red mountains. The education director of the province said he respected us greatly and to show his respect he said we would have boiled sheep for dinner. In the ‘ger’ was a bucket with the insides of a sheep — intestines, kidneys, heart, liver..everything. The sheep was cooked with boiling hot stones put inside of its body to cook the inside. My sister and I are vegetarians. This was explained and we got given pringles and chocolate raisons! After that we had vegetables. The men threw chunks of the meat up for the eagles. We held the stones after the sheep had been cooked because this was said to be good for our health.
The Mongolians and the British then had a game of volleyball. It was so hilarious as most of us weren’t exactly experts at it! I accidently hit Philippa in the face with the ball and immediately afterwards my sister hit the education director in the face with the ball! Fortunately he laughed. We all agreed this had been the most Mongolian day! It had also definitely been one of the most memerable.