2010 October

This time a newsletter about Anna Home that is not, as usual, written by Maarten or Boldsaikhan, but by me, Karen, wife of Maarten. Since the start three years ago, I am the chair of the Dutch foundation that supports the Mongolian foundation and Anna Home financially and in other ways. I write this letter because I was in Anna Home myself for nine days! Today I want to give you some general impressions and in coming newsletters I will write in some more detail about several subjects.
welkomslunchWhen we arrived on Saturday afternoon we were received with lots of happy and enthusiast yells in the garden of Anna Home; the weather was beautiful. For Maarten, since long known as “Martien” of course there were many hugs, handshakes, touching and unintelligible talking. But for me also there were many warm children’s hands, a few words in English and difficult new names.
They had a beautiful meal prepared with traditional buutz (dumplings filled with meat), pickles from their own garden, eggs from the chicken, homemade bread and homemade jam of beets and of tomatoes. Yes, really, with sugar and on bread!
pepernotenI noticed directly how harmonious it was in the house. This feeling stayed all week. Maarten told me this before, but it really is true. The children are always cheerful and open, helpful without being asked with all that has to be done in and around the house, they never grumble and -very special I think as a mother of four- they do not quarrel. Every now and then they romp or tease a little (as far as I can see), but that is it. I wondered in these days how that is possible, whether it is real and healthy, but I can only conclude that it is so and that it helps a lot in the good atmosphere. Maybe one does not grumble when one grows up in such misery and maybe fighting on the street is contra productive? Is there an implicit feeling of gratitude about what happened to them in Anna Home that makes them for ever cheerful?
zonnebloemenAccording to western standards the home is very simple, even after the renovation. Three bedrooms with 3 to 5 bunk beds and one small cupboard with clothes and things for school for 8 to 10 children, a small kitchen with one sink and a stove of stone which can hold one or two pans, a mini office, dining room and training room. Fortunately with beautiful paintings by Colour for Kids on the walls. Water comes from a well and there are a toilet and two showers, which is very luxurious here, but don’t think about what happens if you want to leave in the morning with 5, what happens with 30?? Fortunately most children go to school in the afternoon (school is only 3 hours per day) and that makes a difference. The house is on a big piece of land some 2 to 2,5 km’s from shops, schools, etc. That means a lot of daily walking for the children.
We were there at the end of the summer, nice and warm in the daytime, at night already freezing. So we saw the children mainly outside, playing football, in the vegetable garden, with the new dog, playing with sand and water, on the horizontal bar and talking. We were only inside for the welcome lunch, the farewell and for making portrait photo’s which you can see on the page about the children . I liked that because inside is small, very small, and when warm full of flies. I find it hard to imagine how it will be during those long winter months, when it is far too cold to be outside for any period of time, with everybody inside.
MijkeThe children have more peculiarities, at least that is what I think as a mother of four children with very different ideas: they eat everything, seem to like everything and don’t leave anything on their plates. They are happy with everything: with attention, for example when you try to talk with hands and feet, sticking a plaster, have them sing a song or just give a hug.
And also when you take something for them, like a pen with my name on it, a bottle of water, a new notebook, chewing gum. But as I said the happiness was the nicest and the most remarkable.
During the week we went every day to the house, sometimes with Maarten, but he had to work, more often with Mijke, girlfriend of the colleague with whom Maarten worked.
At the end of this story I want to share with you a special event that took place during the week:


Suddenly a 12 year old girl appeared to ask if she, her sister of 4 and her brothers of 11 and 15 could come and live in Anna Home, because they had no other place to go. On that moment there was only one place free. Their mother just disappeared with a new husband. Father stabbed the new man with a knife, lost his job and his house and now had to go to prison for 6 years. Boldsaikhan and I talked with the father. He knew that it was stupid, but now he was desperate. Because there was an emergency they were admitted for three weeks, to win time for a solution. When they arrived they were starving; they did not eat for three days. Their property consisted of the clothes they were wearing. We immediately bought toothbrushes, clothes to wear to school, notebooks and pens. At the end of the week they were cheerful children, enjoying the fact that this had been possible. They never had to really live on the streets and they have a father who loves them, as we have seen.
Hopefully I was able to communicate the atmosphere, more important for me than all the facts, although those are nice too. Next time I want to write about the transition home, the new ger for girls and the board of the Mongolian foundation All for Children.