Monday, November 29, 2010

Deseret International Charities -- A Week of Wheelchair Donations

At Songino District's 11th Khoroo – Deseret International Charities presented nine wheelchairs to individuals in a ceremony at the khoroo (government) offices.

This wheelchair recipient was carried into the wheelchair
ceremony at Songino's 11th Khoroo by a dear friend
She was delighted with her new wheelchair!

 A blessing for this woman!

Later that week, we traveled to Erdenet City where Deseret International Charities presented wheelchairs to 14 disabled children at the Department for Children under the Governor of Orkhon Aimag.  It was a   wonderful ceremony.  It was very well planned by the director of the Center.  All but three of the children attended to receive their wheelchairs.  It was really touching to see the children in their wheelchairs.  One little boy recited a poem he wrote about his mother and he later was so thrilled with his wheelchair that he zoomed all around the room.

It's hard to imagine how difficult life is for parents who have to carry their children everywhere they go and for children who can't walk and play like other children.  Many adults must feel liberated to receive a wheelchair for their children and many children must feel liberated to have a way to get around by themselves.

Some of the disabled children in their new wheelchairs

One young man receiving a wheelchair
President Tserenbat, who is Darkhan District President, accompanied us and made some remarks at the ceremony. A couple of TV reporters interviewed him and he did a great job of explaining Deseret International Charities' five initiatives and that DIC is sponsored by donations from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide.  President Tserenbat is well known and well respected in Erdenet and everyone seems to look up to him.  The ceremony was covered by three local TV stations and was on the evening and morning news for each channel.
Darkhan District President, President Tserenbat, being interviewed by a couple of TV reporters
Video of a little boy zooming around in his new wheelchair!


Following the ceremony, we took the center director and another staff member to lunch with President Tserenbat and  group became good friends. 

After lunch we delivered wheelchairs to the remaining three children in their homes. It is always a tender experience to give a wheelchair to someone, but it is especially sweet to give one to a disabled child.

This boy receives tender care from his younger sister
This little boy is actually 15 years old.  His younger sister cares for him during the day while their mother works.  We felt heart ache for her as we noticed her placid, expressionless face and realized that she probably stays at home for hours caring for her invalid brother, and that she is probably sacrificing her education in order to care for him.

Grandmother caring for invalid granddaughter
This duty-bound grandmother cares full time in a one-room apartment for the needs of her disabled granddaughter.  The woman's daughter, who is the little girl's mother, married and moved out, leaving the child in her grandmother's care.  After we presented the granddaughter with a new wheelchair, we were just walking out the door when Richard told the grandmother that she would be blessed for her service to her granddaughter.  When Azzaya translated his words to the grandmother, the woman sobbed.

President Tserenbat and a khoroo (local government) official carrying a wheelchair to a wheelchair recipient

In Ekhtsalool Bag, in Erdenet, we presented wheelchairs to five more individuals in their homes. President Tserenbat accompanied us to each home and was very sweet and friendly to the people. They were each happy to receive a wheelchair and to gain some mobility.  

After all the wheelchair deliveries, President Tserenbat took us on a tour of the copper mine where he worked for 33 years before retiring a year ago.  He is an amazing man and we really enjoyed his company.  We also enjoyed having Azzaya and her friend Batkaa with us!  They are darling!

Teaching English

Carol teaching Conversational English at the Bayanzurkh Building.
Richard often joins in and especially likes to teach idioms.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Deseret International Charities Donates 500 Wheelchairs to the People of Mongolia

On October 20th we held a major wheelchair ceremony at the Children's Palace in Ulaanbaatar.  We are partnering with the Ulaanbaatar Red Cross who is helping DIC distribute wheelchairs.  At the ceremony, DIC officially transferred 300 wheelchairs of the 500 wheelchairs DIC is donating this year to the Red Cross for distribution and DIC will distribute the remaining 200 wheelchairs.

The ceremony was first class and included excellent Mongolian entertainment, remarks by Red Cross and DIC officials, recognition of Church leaders, and presentation of wheelchairs to 28 disabled people. 

Red Cross presented special medals of recognition to Kathy and William Clark, who preceded us as Country Directors for DIC, for their cooperation and humanitarian work over the years.  

Some of the disabled people couldn’t attend the ceremony in person because it was impractical to transport them, so their wheelchairs were presented to a family member or Red Cross representative who will deliver the wheelchairs to them.  A couple of people borrowed wheelchairs to come to the ceremonies and went home in their own wheelchairs.  They were delighted.

The ceremony was covered by two TV stations and was on the evening and morning news.  

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Deseret International Charities Completes Five Clean-water Stations for Bayanzurkh District

Deseret International Charities built and donated five clean-water stations to the people of Bayanzurkh District.  The stations were built in areas where people have had to haul water long distances, usually by hand, over difficult terrain—steep hills, mucky swamps, slippery slopes, etc. Having a clean-water station in their neighborhood is a huge improvement over hauling water long distances over this type of terrain.

Richard wrote:  Deseret International Charities' construction of five clean-water stations for Bayanzurkh District in Ulaanabaatar is complete.  We had the opening ceremonies and all water stations are in operation.  Both contractors were great and had several crews working on the water stations simultaneously.  Construction on the first station began August 20th and the last station was completed October 9th.

Opening ceremonies for the three stations in the 2nd Khoroo were held October 12th and the ceremonies for the two stations in the 23rd Khoroo were held on October 16th.  We had a good turn out at all ceremonies with excellent media coverage as well.

As part of the project, Khoroo governors will soon provide sanitation training in the schools for children and parents.

The beneficiaries are grateful and excited to have clean water available in their neighborhoods.

The walls of the stations are very thick and well insulated to keep the water from freezing with temperatures reaching as low as -30 to -50 F.  Each station is equipped with a small stove that burns wood and coal.  Each station has a room (office) for the operator who sells the water and runs the station, a room for fuel storage, and a large room to house the 8,000-liter water storage tank.  The tanks are made of steel and are imported from China. They will be filled 2-3 times/week as needed.  Above is a picture of one of the tanks, plus a sample of the thickness of the walls.

The exterior walls include an outside layer of brick, a 4-inch layer of Styrofoam, and another 3 rows of brick.  The inside of the walls are then coated with plaster and are painted.  The walls end up being about 20+ inches thick.  Each station also has a ramp for the water truck to pull up on so it can fill the tank with water.

The buildings are 6 meters square, not counting the ramp.  They are much larger than the well houses DIC built, because they house a much larger water tank.    The windows are high quality double-paned glass.  They are quite attractive and almost look like small churches.   Sometimes the operators fix them up to look really homey inside.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Deseret International Charities' Wheelchair Donations

October 11, 2010 – Wheelchair donated to Buyannemekh
Buyannemekh was a tall, handsome, college student attending the National University of Mongolia and studying Bio-technology.
In 2006, before his graduation, Buyannemekh was beaten up. His injuries left him paralyzed from the waist down and with limited use of his hands. He wasn’t able to finish his course work and, as a result, he missed his college graduation. He went to China for two or three months of treatment, but since then, he has lain at home in his bed. Buyannemekh’s younger brother, Altanbaagan, who is about a foot shorter than Buyannemekh and Buyannemekh’s mother care for his daily needs. Once in awhile his family takes him out of their home for a ride in a car, but usually he just lies on his back in his bed.
One of his college classmates, Batchimeg who is a returned missionary, delivered his request for a wheelchair to DIC. Batchimeg went with us when we delivered the wheelchair. She was saddened to see his condition but happy to see him receive a wheelchair.
Buyannemekh and his mother expressed their sincere appreciation for the wheelchair. We hope it will increase his mobility and help him enjoy life more.

On October 22nd, Damdin Suren, who is a retired church member, accompanied us the small apartment of his life-long friend, Batmunkh who is sixty years old. Damdin Suren and Batmunkh worked together for many years on heavy construction.  Batmunkh lifted and carried many heavy loads on construction sites. He has had back pain for a long time, but five years ago, he had a serious back injury. He could still walk, but it was very painful.

On the advice of his doctor, Batmunkh traveled to China for an operation. Unfortunately, the operation left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Batmunkh can sit in a chair alone and wheel a wheelchair, but someone has to assist him to sit up and move into a chair. He has a huge bedsore, and because of it, he can’t even take a shower. He said he doesn’t like laying down all the time. Sometimes he borrows his friend’s wheelchair and gets up and makes cookies. He has a secret recipe that no one else in Mongolia has. Sometimes he receives orders from Americans and Japanese people for his special-recipe cookies.
He was delighted to receive the wheelchair. He has big plans to build a bakery next to his apartment building and was thrilled because now he will be able to sit up and bake in his bakery. He said the wheelchair would be just perfect! He said he hopes we will still be in Mongolia when he opens his new bakery in April because he wants to invite us to its opening.

October 24, 2010
We delivered three wheel chairs to individuals.

The first was to the 84-year old father of Munktsetseg who is a member of Khailaast Branch. Purev Chogdov was really pleased with his new wheelchair and as soon as he was helped into the wheelchair, he took off wheeling around the two-room home.

He said he is really happy to receive the wheelchair because he gets really tired of lying in bed all the time.

The next delivery was to a woman who is an active member of the Church named Dorjpalam Ulzii. She was born in 1944 and is 66 years old.  She is planning on going to the temple as soon as possible, however, because walking is so painful for her, she has been unable to even attend church for a long time. As we drove over steep, uneven, rocky, ger-district “roads” to her home, we were grateful that we were in a four-wheel drive vehicle. The Khailaast Branch President, Nassanbold, accompanied us. When we asked him how Dorjpalam traveled these roads when she came to church, he replied, “Walking very slowly.” As we arrived at her home, her son told us that she had gone to the hospital, so we decided that as long as we had time and the wheelchair with us, we would deliver it to her there. It was a long way across town and we would have never found it alone, but thanks to
President Nassanbold and Brother Otgonbayar, who went with us because he said he wanted to do service, we finally found the building nestled deep in a ger district. As we opened the door to her room, we found Dorjpalam’s angelic-looking face greeting us. She was delighted. Receiving a wheelchair was a dream come true for her.

And finally, we took a wheelchair to Baatarnyam who is about 55 years old.   He has had a couple of strokes.  About three months ago, he had a tragic accident.   He was collecting plastic bottles around the railroad tracks when he became dizzy and passed out on the train tracks.  A train came along and cut off one of his legs just below the knee.  

He and his wife have been investigating the Church, so the missionaries brought us a request to give him a wheelchair.  Baatarnyam and his wife didn’t know we were coming and when we arrived, the door to Baatarnyam’s fence was locked. Elder Bashka, Elder Wilson and Richard banged and banged on the gate. We thought Baatarnyam must be home because the gate was locked from the inside, but in spite of a band of loud banging, no one came to answer the door. Just as we were about give up, we had a tender mercy. Three young boys came bounding down the steep hill. 

The Elders asked the boys if they knew the people we wanted to see. They said they did and before we knew it, all three, like agile monkeys, scaled the tall fence, dropped down on the other side and ran to the house. After rousing Baatarnyam’s wife, they came running with her back to the door to let us in.

Baatarnyam’s wife and Baatarnyam were really surprised. She cried and cried. At first, Baatarnyam was speechless, but as he was helped into his new wheelchair, he uttered bursts of gratitude and profuse handshaking. As we left, we received one final hug from Baatarnyam’s teary wife, then we waved good-by.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Deseret International Charities Received a Shipment of 500 Wheelchairs

This week, DIC received a shipment of 500 wheelchairs from China that DIC will be donating to the needy people of Mongolia. The wheelchairs arrived at the train station in Ulaanbaatar on Sunday and by Thursday, they were safely in storage.

It took
a lot of time and work to get them through Customs and into storage, but we had many helping hands who willingly worked to get the work done. Two groups of Helping Hands unloaded two containers of wheelchairs at two separate locations. Each group was treated to a pizza party after the unloadings.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Deseret International Charities Donates Vision Equipment and Training to Mongolia

The Vision Project occupied most of our time the last two weeks. The week of August 22nd was spent preparing for the project and the week of August 29th was spent carrying out the project. We have been planning this project for months with Dr. Roger Harrie and his wife Bev from Utah, USA. Dr. Harrie is a widely-renown author and ophthalmologist with the Moran Eye Institute in Salt Lake City. He and his wife donated their time to prepare for, travel to, and present this training to about 45 ophthalmologists here in Mongolia.

To prepare for this training here in Mongolia, we held planning meetings with Dr. Enkhtul from the First Government Hospital and Dr. Chimgee from the Migaxi Sight Clinic. We also ordered lunch and fruit for the training, purchased other food and supplies to make the training go well, arranged for and had a large banner made which was used as a backdrop for the training, ceremonies, photos, etc.

The Banner

As part of the preparation, we arranged for several church members and non-members with eye problems to come to the training as patients. Members included: Elder Bashka, President Altanzukh’s wife, Batchimeg, Batchimeg’s father, another missionary and a member from Murun, who has severe sight limitations. This was beneficial to the training as well as to the patients. Dr. Harrie needed actual patients to work on in order to demonstrate using the donated equipment to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy.

A miracle happened the Saturday before the training started. We received a call from Brother Boston, who lives in Alaska, but was in Mongolia on business and was staying nearby at the Chinggis Khaan Hotel. He said the Lion’s Club in Alaska had sent him with about 2,000 pairs of used prescription and reading eyeglasses to donate to people in Mongolia. The prescriptions were verified and the eyeglasses were labeled and sorted into boxes according to their prescriptions. He asked if we could find people who could use them. We excitedly told him that we just happened to be training 45 ophthalmologists from all over Mongolia starting on Monday, and it would be a perfect opportunity to offer these glasses to them to give to poor patients who could not afford glasses. The timing of his donation was perfect. The Lord certainly has his hand in this work.

Brother Boston (in navy blue shirt) with duffle bags and boxes full of eyeglasses donated by the Lions' Club in Alaska

The actual Vision Project included the donation of about $67,000 of Argon lasers, surgical equipment, microscopes, lenses, and ophthalmoloscopes. They will be of great benefit to the First Hospital and the Migaxi Eye Clinic. Their ophthalmologists were thrilled.

The training went really well. We had 45 ophthalmologists from all over Mongolia and from Ulaanbaatar. The Vision Project paid the transportation cost for eleven doctors from aimag hospitals to attend the training. The doctors were hungry for the training and the group kept getting bigger as the week went on and others wanted to join.

Ophthalmologists attending training in the Bayanzurkh building

On Monday, the training was held for the whole day in the Bayanzurkh church building in room 301. The doctors loved the facility with its clean, modern restrooms, elevator, etc. and enjoyed the spirit in the building. Dr. Chimgee gave the doctors a pre-test to assess their current knowledge. Dr. Harrie gave a lecture on how to recognize diabetic retinopathy and to refer patients with diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Chimgee translating while Dr. Roger Harrie gives his lecture

Then, Dr. Chimgee presented her master’s thesis, which she had very recently finished, on findings regarding eye care needs in Mongolia. Dr. and Bev Harrie said that one of their goals in partnering with Dr. Chimgee in the past has been to support her in making this important study of eye care in Mongolia. Now that there is a baseline, it will be easier to determine action for eye care aid in the future.

During breaks, ophthalmologists were given plastic bags and told they could pick out any eyeglasses they wanted to take home to their home hospitals. They just had to give them to the poor.

Azzaya, DIC's darling and very capable translator and assistant

DIC provided fruit, hot herbal drinks (using an electric teapot and a thermos), hot seabuck-thorn juice in a crockpot, rolls, bottled juice, bottled water and candy on the participants’ tables, box lunches, and an afternoon snack of hot apple turnovers. The ophthalmologists felt like they were treated royally. They especially loved the lectures. They kept saying, “This is really needed in Mongolia.”

Tuesday was spent at First Hospital. First, Dr. Harrie and doctors from First Hospital examined patients including several members of the Church and a couple of DIC’s friends who needed care. Dr. Harrie and Dr. Chimgee taught opthalmologists how to use the 90-diopter lenses that DIC donated and how to use ultrasound for diagnosis.

Dr. Harrie examining Elder Bashka

Dr. Harrie giving instruction at First Hospital

Wednesday the training moved to the Migaxi Eye Sight Clinic where doctors were trained, by using the fundus camera, on how to detect diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions.

On Thursday, the First Hospital hosted a donation ceremony honoring DIC for donating the Argon lasers and other equipment to them and the Migaxi Eye Clinic. The other equipment donated to the First Hospital included: several 90-diaptor lenses, 24 slit-lamp bulbs, and blades for cataract surgery, etc. First Hospital put up a banner and balloons and presented DIC with a plaque of gratitude.

At the ceremony there were reporters from three TV stations and three newspapers. They covered the ceremony and did interviews with hospital directors, doctors, Dr. Harrie, and Elder Lasson.

We were too busy to watch the news that night, but we think the coverage was good because many people told us they saw it on the news on several different TV channels.

Following the ceremony, Bev Harrie set up one of the Argon lasers in First Hospital and Dr. Harrie gave instructions on its use. Later, they went to the Migaxi Eye Sight Clinic and set up the second Argon laser there.

Dr. and Bev Harrie setting up the Argon laser in First Hospital

On Friday, we held a closing session for the participants in the Bayanzurkh building. Dr. Chimgee gave the participants a post test, and she and Dr. Harrie gave a follow-up discussion and answered questions.

That morning, DIC provided fruit, herbal drinks, hot sea-buck-thorn juice, rolls, bottled juice, bottled water and candy. Following the discussion and questions, we took down the tables and arranged the chairs to face the banner. Then we presented a certificate to each participant. The First Hospital arranged for each participant to receive training credit from the Ministry of Health.

"Graduation Ceremonies" of training participants in the Bayanzurkh building

We were pleased with how well the training went. Doctor and Bev Harrie were also pleased with the project and said it was one of the best they had been involved with and that it provided a new model for training. They liked having one day of lectures with all of the ophthalmologists, followed by hands-on training sessions in the hospital/clinic and a public donation ceremony, and concluding with a wrap-up session and presentation of certificates.

Through this training and follow-up discussions with the ophthalmologists from First Hospital, Doctor and Bev Harrie and Dr. Chimgee, we gained some great insight on what might be included in a future Vision Project.