The opening of a new Anna Home
It is January 29, 2020, it is freezing about 15 degrees, children and staff, former residents, students and many notables of Choibalsan line up for the new house. And we too, five Dutch and one American, who want to be there. With balloons and bows behind us, we cut the ribbon: OPEN!
Seven months and 20 days after the fire there is a two-story house with a large attic, with six bedrooms, a kitchen, a large room for homework, computers and watching TV, with showers and toilets and with a balcony. Inside it is nice and warm thanks to the district heating, water comes from the tap and everywhere are nice colours. The kitchen is beautiful, there is now a cook. There is no longer an open fire but an electric stove, so it is much safer. It is easy to keep clean thanks to, among other things, tiles on the floor.
From the house you can see the school where almost all children go now. They used to walk half an hour to school, now it’s two minutes. Consider what it is like as a five-year-old to walk home with your backpack through temperatures down to -30 at 5 o’clock in the afternoon in the dark. By the way, now they don’t have to go to school at all, because the government has closed all schools and universities throughout the country because of the Corona virus, and not just for a moment, but for six weeks!
The fire was a disaster, but having written that, the result is a blessing!
The costs are now covered for a very large part, we are still missing just under € 7,000. For the time being we can cover that with the reserves that we have for the exploitation, but then we will use our very limited assets that ensure that we can continue to offer our assistance. So we are still looking for a solution …
Two of us first came to Mongolia. Fieke Smit is one of them. She writes:
Meet the children
Special to meet the children of Ana Home for the first time. And what a beautiful building was built here in a short time! With sunlight everywhere. Space. Walls painted in friendly colors. Children proudly show us their own bed; 4 children sleep per room, and in each room there is a table to sit at.
During these days we get to know each other a bit more. Little Ankhzaya, 2 years young and only 2 weeks in Anna Home, has no problem with that. She hops, giving kisses, from arm to lap. Children invite us to clap-games. The 7-year-old Aminerdene and Uranzaya, radiant in their Frozen dresses, rehearse the verse that they will tell at the opening. The choir practices the songs. Little Odsaikhan, 4 years old, sometimes seems to have trouble finding his way, or to ask for attention in a positive way. In the course of the days he comes loose, and likes to jump into the arms of adults. He shines by extra attention during a ball game.
We spend a few hours in the playroom with a relaxing couch, cozy rug on the floor and cupboards with newly purchased games. The children like to discover them together; the room of children playing and building is soon teeming. In remarkably good harmony; arguing, I have not heard or seen.
14-year-old Anudari really wants to do puzzles, the easy ones please. She has learning difficulties. She wants to do the puzzles over and over again and she is happy when she succeeds (faster and faster). Little Ankhzaya seems to be developing rapidly; she is already potty trained, can dress and undress herself. Now she starts saying words. With puzzles she quickly understands how to sort (by shape, color or size). Strong smart girl ….
In the meantime, older children are busy working in the cosy kitchen (doing the dishes, helping to cook food, making tea), and there is a peaceful atmosphere there too.
I notice how the children help each other. I see the seriousness in their gaze, and I think they see the desire to escape from the misery of the past, together with all these “brothers and sisters”.
So far Fieke. She writes about Ankhzaya, a very small girl with a special history. Boldsaikhan writes about her:
She is two years old. At the beginning of January the police found her, on instructions from local residents, alone in an unheated ger. The police eventually found her mother. She had left her child under the care of an aunt, but she had also just left. It is not unlikely that alcohol again played an important role. Fortunately they arrived on time, she had not yet frozen to death. Meanwhile, mother has asked if we want to take care of her, she cannot. We do that of course, even though she is actually too young for our house.