Archive for July, 2011

From extreme cold to extreme green

The first winter I was in Mongolia, it turned out to be the coldest winter in some 40 years. What they call here a Dzud. Since I came back in late April, it’s turned out to be the wettest spring/summer most people can remember. I don’t know if it will set any records, but it’s rained almost every day. Sometime early morning showers, sometime an afternoon thunderstorm. And everything is so green—trees and grass and lots of wildflowers. People with gardens haven’t had to water much.

But despite the rain, it still feels dry—the roads get dusty again almost immediately and today we had a short sandstorm. After all, it’s Mongolia.

Compost project
I’ve been really busy lately focusing on two primary projects. One was to help a school near my office get its defunct greenhouse going again. The new director (read principal) wants to encourage students and parents to learn more about how to grow vegetables. More people here, I found, are growing vegetables at home and so encouraging them to make compost is a step in the right direction.
This is right down my alley since I’m trying to support the Organic Mongol project that’s part of the National Chamber of Commerce initiatives. Knowing how poor the soil is here, I did some research and put together a Powerpoint presentation about compost: what it is, why it’s good for the soil and how to

Rotating composting barrel

make a rotating compost bin from a big plastic water barrel.  The presentation has run several times on the local television station and I’ve shown it to many people just using my computer.

Restoring the handicraft shop

Ger on its way to our site

It took me two years before to get a local handicraft shop going in Muron and this time it took me 10 weeks. Since the tourist season is short here, I needed to get it started as

Ger in process of being built

quickly as I could. The previous location wasn’t available so World Vision let us use a ger and we found a good location on the main street.  This time I was an active participant in putting the ger up.  Ir’s such an efficient little building!

Just finished putting up the ger with a little help from some friends

Things still move slowly here but it is up and functioning. The only problem is that we need to help people find us.
Most people who come to Muron are on their way to Lake Khuvsgul, the big attraction here. So they don’t seem to stray too far from their hotels. We’ve put posters up everywhere but we still could use more customers. We’re working on it. One

From left: Jagaa, Byimba, craft shop salespeople; Ragchaa, my translator/off to Poland in Sept. to school

nice thing is that I have two lovely young women who are my salespeople for the shop and they are learning how to handle the inventory and the accounting. And how to speak a little more English.

My friends dressed up in our felt products

I also have had the help of a young woman who will be going off to study in Poland on a scholarship this fall. She speaks excellent English and we’ve been working closely together to get the shop up and running and also make progress on a number of other projects.
Overall, things are going as I expected—lots of ups and downs as far as progress goes. Have made new friends and renewed lots of previous friendships. And I continue to learn so much from the people, the land, the challenges that this developing nation continues to face, and from its rich culture and history.

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July 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment


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