Hassan in Anna Home
There are advanced plans to expand Anna Home a bit. Not to be able to care for more children but to give them more privacy and to be more flexible in the allocation of beds for boys and for girls. When a few months ago a few girls came together to live in the house, the three bedrooms had to be redistributed. And that’s no fun! In preparation for the construction Hassan went to Choibalsan. He is the engineer who supervised the last renovation in 2009 from the Foundation Colour4Kids.
Hassan writes about his experiences in October:
Return to Anna Home after 6 years
It was early August this year, when Maarten emailed me with his story about the renovation of Anna Home and asked me to help them with that. I had a lot planned in my work and also for Colour4kids but I did not hesitate and gave my yes straight away. I wanted to make a contribution to improving the living conditions of the children in Anna Home.
Shortly after that we had a meeting with our architect Gert-Jan to discuss the design and technical matters. At the meeting, I suggested to do an inventory on the spot. We do this in the foundation Colour4kids almost with all projects. This allows us to supervise the projects much more efficiently. Fortunately the Board of All for Children agreed.
So I stepped on the plane on October 28 and went back to Mongolia after 6 years. The trip went pretty smoothly. After 18 hours, I came to Ulaanbaatar where Boldsaikhan and two of the boys from Anna Home were waiting for me. A special moment to see them again.
The next day we left by car to Choibalsan, the city where Anna Home is located. The journey by car took too long because of a breakdown we got under way. It was an impressive journey in the steppes of Mongolia. Almost half of the road was unpaved and there were no signs at all. Despite all this, we reached our destination in 18 hours. A distance of 650 kilometers.
I was staying in Boldsaikhan’s home. This was a special experience for me. For a week I got a strong bond with the family. Especially with the youngest child of the family, Ami. I learned Mongolian customs and could also help family here and there when it was needed. A very welcoming family that I really miss.
A few hours after my arrival we went to Anna Home. I could not wait to see the kids again. The encounter was so relaxed as if we had seen each other often over the six years. The children knew me quite directly. That gave me a good feeling. I treated them with “pepernoten” and chocolate which I had brought from the Netherlands. They said it was delicious. I could not believe my eyes how they had grown. I was very pleased when I saw that the children are doing so well. A compliment for All for Children and for the staff of Anna Home in particular Boldsaikhan, the director.
From the second day Boldsaikhan and I started selecting the contractors and the discussions about the renovation. I also looked for information about solar energy and its use for Anna Home. This was an intensive process with sometimes long conversations. The result was satisfactory. I had, on time for my departure, the information I needed to give good advice to the board of All for Children and to our architect Gert-Jan.
I look back with a good feeling about my trip and like to go back to realize whatever the board of All for Children chooses.
So much for his report. We are now working hard to puzzle what is the best solution; which must also be feasible.
Lizzie, the Peace Corps volunteer who is doing so much for Anna Home, writes about her new initiative:
Agaa Egee is a mentoring program that was started in 2011 in Ulaanbaatar that paired older children living in orphanages with adult mentors to help prepare them for adulthood. Now the program has been adapted in many provinces and is used in secondary and vocational schools throughout Mongolia. The goal of our Agaa Egee program is to pair the younger children living in Anna Home with students at the local Polytechnic College. The college students are motivated, kind, and passionate individuals who serve as positive role models for the children of Anna Home. Each student is paired with one child to work with throughout the year in order to provide the child with support and encouragement in their social and academic development. Through the use of life skill lessons the students will teach the children about the importance of self-esteem, positive communication, friendships, decision-making, and more. The Agaa Egee program meets once a week at Anna Home where the children have one on one meetings with their mentor, group life skill lessons, and interactive creative activities. The students and children are very excited about participating in this program and have already begun to develop meaningful friendships with their mentors and mentees. They are a wonderful group of young people who are helping to promote the importance youth empowerment in their community.
News from Boldsaikhan
Bayrtsetseg with her team became champion in the basketball competition. She is good at sports. She has only very recently come to Anna Home, but she has already found her place. She helps a lot in the house.
The local business MAK wanted to help make the kids warm and happy: they gave us a truck full of coal!
For years, the library has an English Club. Young people from Choibalsan meet with Peace Corps volunteers. They speak English, so they can learn the language properly. They have been in Anna Home to tell stories, play games and give toys.
Journey to Anna Home
In July, around 12 people will go to Anna Home. See the house, celebrate after 10 years of existence and celebrate Naadam with the children, the national festival with horse racing, wrestling and archery. There are still a few places for those who would like to come. We want to go with 15 people maximum. After six days in Choibalsan we will go in groups or jointly, seeing another part of the country. It looks like the Gobi desert will be one of the destinations. Some then go by train from Ulaanbaatar to Moscow.
The story of the starfish
One of our donors recently sent this nice story, because it applied so much on what we’re all doing for Anna Home:
One day I was walking on the beach. In the distance I saw a little boy bending down many times, picking up something and tossing it into the sea. Because I walked fast I caught up that little boy after a while. Again he stooped down, picked up a starfish and threw it into the sea. The beach was littered with thousands of starfishes. If they remain on the beach and not end up in the sea, they’ll die. But there was no getting into. The beach it was a hundred kilometres long and everywhere, as far as you could see, I saw stranded starfish. I became curious about the little boy who apparently payed no heed to the fact that there were so many. And I asked him, “Why are you doing this? The beach is at least a hundred kilometres long and there are thousands of starfishes. It makes no difference whether you throw a few back or not?” The boy looked at me long and said, “But for this one it makes the difference,” and he went ahead and gave another starfish back to the sea. And I learned that day so much of this little boy. How short or how long you live, no matter how much or how little you can do, that one gesture is significant and changes the lives of so many people. And with this one gesture this little boy became indelibly in my life.