Greetings! I’m Otgontsetseg, founder and director of Khanbogd Education Center, the first and only training center of the small town of Khanbogd in the south Gobi desert. My project started nine months ago, under the burning hot sun that hits the Gobi during summer time and the start was quite challenging. Khanbogd is a located in the driest area of the big Mongolian desert and both teachers and students had a hard time in the 40 degrees hot classes and the staff was actually living inside the small school for the whole season with no air conditioning. But the efforts were rewarded and the kids started growing interest in our work which proposes a more in depth, interactive and playful approach to the after school lessons and the learning of languages, initially English and Chinese.
Now the summer has passed, together with some initial difficulties. We had many changes in the team and after the beginning of the other schools in September and the return of the majority of the children to the town we weren’t able to face the new numbers since we didn’t have enough rooms to host the new classes. And unfortunately we didn’t even have the right number of teachers to support the new arrivals and provide activities during the lesson breaks to the remaining kids resulting in an exhausting, but sometimes funny and colorful mess to deal with.
Now there’s a team of three persons working together with me at the school, including a volunteer and a foreign English teacher and we are finally starting to get into an efficient teamwork trying to refresh the environment with new ideas and projects. Still the challenges are not over. Right now the expenses are bigger than the incomes and didn’t get any salary myself while I’ m constantly working out solutions for the project and the kids. In this area of Mongolia rents and energy are very expensive and currently the payment for the Center facility and rooms for the teachers is too high. Plus we need more teachers to deal with the increasing number of kids that need our service, also due to some changes and problems in the organization of the local public school which can’t host all the students for sufficient time during the day to coordinate with the working schedule of most of the parents (the majority are working in the new Rio Tinto mine a few kilometers away from the town). But also this is a very difficult task since right now most of the experienced teachers which can be found almost exclusively in Ulaanbaatar (the capital city about 600 kilometers from here) are already unavailable. The few which are still searching for a position ask for incredibly high salaries to come here knowing the harsh climate of the Gobi added to the difficulty of finding comfortable accommodations with hot water and a lot of products for the everyday life that can be found easily in the big city. So our team is really struggling to find the right working conditions to keep giving quality and stability to the Center and the pupils in this time of uncertainty.
We call for help now because we believe the solution to most of our problems is the construction of a new building for our Center.
The land purchase has already been done, with fresh water and electricity available and we hope to make the beginning of the project possible before the next summer. A bigger Center will allow us to make rooms with showers for the staff to reduce the expenses for accommodation and host many more kids with new spaces for new activities. Many of the children after school don’t have anywhere else to stay together and learn, some of them sadly are left alone at home by the parents with dangerous consequences which already occurred in the recent past. We would also like to have the standards to receive more volunteers from all over the world in the structure and open new windows in the future of these kids which right now unfortunately are not much encouraged to look further than the reality of Khanbogd and the mine. That said we also take the chance to call for volunteer professional teachers who would like to take part in our growth, to contact us thru our Facebook profile or via mail ([email protected]).
Thanks for spending your time to get to know about us and our situation, and if you are willing to help us with the Funding and sharing our story we are infinitely grateful and we’ ll try to thank you posting pictures and videos of our journey with the kids. Bayarlalaa*!
*Bayarlalaa means “thank you” in Mongolian.