Sunday, May 30, 2010

Deseret International Charities Update

The effects of the Dzud continue. Many herders have lost all of their herds. It is expected that thousands of herder families will be forced to move to the city to survive and will come looking for work, but because most of them have no other skills and because there are not many jobs, it will bring some terrible challenges to Ulaanbaatar and the other cities. In Mongolia, about 37 percent of the population is below the poverty level. Some companies are starting to do a lot of mining here for coal, copper, silver, gold, etc., which over the long run, will bring a lot of money into the Mongolian economy and create a lot of jobs, but that will all take time.

Deseret International Charities requested and received another $150,000 in emergency relief aid from the Church/Emergency Relief Fund to help support the herder families. DIC signed agreements with the governors of seven provinces (like our states) and transferred the money to them to purchase and distribute basic food supplies, medicines, fuel, sanitation items and fodder for their animals. Many of the herders are destitute and near starvation because of the loss of their animals and thus their livelihood. Also, late winter-spring is the season for the young animals to be born, but their mothers aren't able to produce milk so part of the funds will be to provide a milk substitute for the mother's milk. This brings the total emergency relief donation to $200,000, which is a lot of money here in Mongolia.

DIC is just completing 4 water wells in Zuun Kharaa, a town about 3 hours north of Ulaanbaatar where the local governor held sanitation training last Saturday. We will be holding a ceremony there in a couple of weeks to donate the wells to the people of Zuun Kharaa.

We are also working to have DIC build 5 water stations here in Ulaanbaatar. Water stations are located in neighborhoods which do not have water. They are like a well house, but instead of a well they have a big storage tank. The water department is responsible to haul water from wells to these water stations. The water trucks fill the tank every week or more often as needed. People then bring their own containers to be filled at the water stations and carry the water to their homes. Many of the children are assigned this task and it is really a difficult chore. Currently, some of the people have to walk as far as 1.5 kilometers to get water. We hope this project will work so the distance they have to go for water will be much shorter. We took this photo last week of some children hauling water up a steep hill in the area we are looking to put a water station in. The second photo shows part of the area that would be serviced.

We also implemented a garden project for all 22 units of the Church here (wards and branches) under the direction of the priesthood. DIC provided seeds, tools, some fabric for small back-yard greenhouses and a nice gardening book in Mongolian which teaches how to plan a garden, prepare the ground, plant the seeds, and store the produce. The members are really excited about this. The Church humanitarian program has recently adopted food production as their 5th major initiative, along with: clean water, wheelchairs, neonatal resuscitation training and equipment, and vision care.

DIC has major projects going on in all five of these areas, plus some smaller area initiative projects.

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