As mentioned before, we received a cry for help from the orphanage “Verbist Care Center” in Ulaanbaatar. Thanks to our connection, we were invited to visit the facility.
With a little bit of delay (traffic is insane), we reached the orphanage and were identified as visitors and asked to park our car in the courtyard by security.
Brother Simon Mputu Hgandu welcomed us and guided us into the manager’s office, who wasn’t present. He has been living in Mongolia for 5 years, working at the “Verbist Care Center” for 2 years.
Data, numbers and facts
Established in 1995, the orphanage currently hosts 40 children permanently and 7 only at weekends, which go to boarding school. The children are mostly between 3 and 9 years old and often arrive accompanied by police. Children younger than 3 end up at an alternative facility, a “kindergarten”, in the north of Ulaanbaatar. Children older than 9 also have to stay at a different facility.
Reasons for children to end up as orphans in Mongolia are diverse. The most touching and shocking story was that of a little girl, which was abandoned by its family together with her brother, because her birth brought misery to the family, according to the shaman. The family was located, but only the brother was allowed to come back. The tiny and pretty girl, which is very smart according to Simon, is now 12 years old and knows about her situation. Her Brother visits her from time to time. Without the orphanage she would not have a family.
We went to the cafeteria and had some tea and cookies. At the tour afterwards we could see the clean rooms. There are three groups: boys, little girls and older girls. Each group has a leader, taking care of tidiness as well as concerns. The boy’s leader rather appeared as 20 instead of 12. He was checking out what we were doing in his “territory”.
There are 12 staff members:
1 brother Simon
1 driver / security guard
1 part-time nurse
…and a lot of volunteer workers.
Inside the sick room there are 2 bunk beds. This room is used as a quarantine facility and newly accepted kids have to stay here under surveillance. There were 2 new kics, brothers. Their father was a single parent and an alcoholic, so the boys were not able to live a normal life. Their backs were covered in scars, and according to Simon, caused by their own father in a drunken stupor.
In the basement we found the boiler room, which is barely working. The pipes have been fixed but it will not bring 59 people (47 children and 12 staff members) through the winter. Temperatures can drop below -30°C or 40°C. Schools are closed during January, because it is too cold to send the kids to school.
When we showed Simon our Polo, he smiled and showed us a Renault Kangoo without a license plate, which was donated by travellers. Unfortunately, he can’t get a registration for it.
Also, the government doesn’t seem to be very helpful. They accuse theVerbist Care Center of tax fraud, thinking that the facility generates profit. Even though as an NGO all books and bank accounts are exposed.
We bought some toys and sweets, which we wanted to give to the kids. Simon told us, the kids would be very happy, if we would hand them our gifts in person. So, all the kids were mustered, gave thanks and went for our presents.
There are some success stories. One orphan boy went to military school and became an officer. One orphan girl took the A Levels and is now studying on the Philippines, thanks to a scholarship. We saw a picture showing former residents as successful and well-educated adults nowadays. Some even are parents now.
Those success stories and the flawless condition of the facility leave no doubt about the fact that reasonable and sustainable solutions are implemented.
Donations would be awesome, sharing as well.