Book Ger and VSO summer conference
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 10/Jun/2010 02:07, 34 days ago
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I have had a very busy week with work, VSO stuff and a VSO summer conference, not to mention my Mum arrives in Mongolia this evening!On Tuesday we finally opened our second Book Ger in a Khoroo of UB called Amarlan (this is not how you spell it!). It was really important to me because it is a project I have worked from the start. I (and Mum!) found the organisation (who of course have a link to Hillsborough). I got in touch with their UK office, who were interested and put me in touch with their Mongolian office. I then built a relationship with the woman in charge there, developed and submitted a proposal and had it accepted! Even better for a fundraiser it was a project able to be implemented quickly so within 2 weeks of the contract being signed we had the open day. For me it is great to see something I have worked so hard for actually being implemented and to see the kids so excited about the books and toys was wonderful. Also the day was beautiful with blue skies and temperatures above 30, so the community members who turned out got to see a beautiful building. And the kids put on some great dancing for us which we really enjoyed!I spent the rest of the week doing VSO related stuff. There was the annual quality framework review which was a day long review of VSO's activities for the year and I was one of the volunteer representatives. We have had a couple of new volunteers arrive so on Thursday I did a city orientation for one of the new arrivals. Interestingly for 2 of the new volunteers this is their 3rd VSO placement and they are finding VSO Mongolia very different from previous placements. And on Friday I had my leavers workshop which went through all the things to expect in terms of emotional, practical and pastoral when leaving VSO. It was a tough day but it needed to be done.Of course because of all the VSO happenings lots of vols were in from the countryside and I have had my spare room full for the whole week! I really enjoy it because it means I get some company, new conversation and fresh faces. But I wasn't expecting the couple who stayed with me to get married while they were here!! They had a private ceremony at the embassy here and only told us all afterwards! I am so pleased for them!On Sunday we all headed off on the train to our summer conference in the countryside of the Selenge Aimag. We stayed at a summer camp run by one of the organisations one of the VSO volunteers works for, and the money we pay to use the camp goes to support their activities working with child labourers, child trafficking and child prostitutes. So it was good to be able to support them.The camp itself was lovely situated right beside a river in a valley surrounded by beautiful green hills. When we arrived the weather was beautiful so after we dumped out stuff off we headed straight for the river! The water was lovely and we had a great time swimming and sunbathing.Unfortunately the weather went downhill from there and the rest of the conference was pretty cold and wet. We were staying in wooden cabins with holes in the walls and no heating so it got pretty cold at night. During our sessions we ended up wrapping ourselves in the blankets from the beds to keep warm. I had brought some thermals to wear as pyjamas but ended up wearing them all week!But even though the weather was horrible it was great to spend time with all the VSO volunteers in one place, share our successes and challenges, and discuss ways to improve VSO. We also had some hilarious performances put on by each geographical area, including a great skit from Arvaikheer about collecting cashmere samples, and some contentious quizzes from the Staff and UB vols.One of the volunteers brought his horses with him and during a dry spell a few of us went out riding through the valleys and hills around the camp site. These horses are very well looked after and the best looking horses I have seen since I arrived due to their glossy coats and fact they have been fed through the winter. So it was a real pleasure to ride a well trainined, well fed, happy horse!Unfortunately we did have to return to reality and jobs eventually and so yesterday we boarded the train back to UB. Even the train journey was a great experience as it allowed us to watch the beautiful (rain soaked!) countryside go by!