Friday, July 16, 2010

The Last Well Ceremony in Zuun Kharaa

July 15, 2010
Today we held the last of four well ceremonies in Zuun Kharaa.
Yesterday was a beautiful day, but last night it rained torrents of rain in Ulaanbaatar. We had planned to go to Zuun Kharaa for the well ceremony, so in the morning we tried to call Governor Bayarsaikhan to see if the well ceremony was still a go, but we couldn’t get in touch with him. So, at 7:30 a.m., we drove out of the Bayanzurkh building parking lot with Elder and Sister Caldwell, Elder and Sister Powell and Azzaya in the mission SUV headed for Zuun Kharaa. On the road, we received a phone call from the missionaries in Zuun Kharaa who said there had been a lot of rain, but we said we were still coming because we wanted to be there if Governor Bayarsaikhan had arranged for the ceremony.
A couple of hours later, Azzaya received a phone call from Governor Bayarsaikhan who said he couldn’t come to the ceremony because of the rain and he didn’t think anyone else would come either. We kept going.
We drove through hard rain and saw huge puddles of run off along the highway and dirt and gravel washed across the new gravel road to Zuun Kharaa, but it wasn’t until we drove along the road overlooking the city of Zuun Kharaa that we realized how much rain Zuun Kharaa had received. Many of the flooded streets looked like the canals of Venice. We worried that Bayarsaikhan might be right. Still we hoped there would be some ground around the wells that wasn’t submerged and that the rain would let up long enough for a ceremony. We visited with the missionaries and then went to check-out the wells.

TONGALAG at Well #1 said her whole yard had been under water and that the government’s emergency trucks had been by to pump the water from her yard. She showed us her shallow, private well, which was now polluted with debris, manure, and dirt from her yard. She was extremely grateful for the well and said many people had come to get clean water from the well because their shallow wells were very badly polluted, too. They were totally without clean water. This is a sad thing for them, but a blessing for the people of Zuun Kharaa to help them realize their need for clean water from the deep wells instead of relying on their shallow wells which can be easily polluted.

We splashed in the SUV down the river-like lane to Well #2, where we were supposed to hold the ceremony. We were doubtful that anyone would come. However, when we arrived there, we found that right in front of the well there was an island of ground that wasn’t submerged. The well operator said that people had been told that there would be a well ceremony at 1:00 p.m.; it was 12:45 p.m. We decided to hold the ceremony and hope for the best. As we started setting up, she called friends and neighbors. The rain started to subside. People began gathering. By 1:05 p.m. we had a small crowd of residents. As we started the ceremony, the rain stopped.

Richard gave a brief talk. He told the residents that DIC is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that we try to serve our fellowmen because we are followers of Jesus Christ and that is what he taught us to do. We gave everyone handouts telling them what diseases come from not using clean water and encouraged them to use the clean water from the new wells.

Then we had a fun ribbon cutting ceremony! On a signal from Richard, Elder and Sister Caldwell, Elder and Sister Powell, Azzaya, the well operator, and two residents joined us in cutting a long red ribbon with gold bows in it and officially opening the well. Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, Richard poured up some glasses of water and drank the first cup of crystal clear water. Then we handed out glasses of water to the residents and held drawings for four water cans and a hand-push water truck. Finally, we handed out candy and drinks to the happy crowd.

We were grateful that we had made it safely to Zuun Kharaa, that the rain had stopped long enough for the ceremony to take place, that there was enough unsubmerged ground to hold a ceremony on, and that people came. In the end, the well ceremony felt more like a fun party than like a dismal, soggy rainout!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Deseret International Charities, Well Ceremonies July 1, 2010

The Governor of Zuun Kharaa, Governor Tseepildorj planned a day of ceremonies for the day before Zuun Kharaa’s Naadam Celebration. Zuun Kharaa had many things to celebrate. Governor Tseepildorj planned to have a ceremony for a new road to Zuun Kharaa donated by Boroo Gold which cuts almost an hour off of the trip to Zuun Kharaa from Ulaanbaatar, and ceremonies for a new sports center, an addition on the hospital, a monument in the city square, and for the four clean-water wells that Deseret International Charities donated. It was a jam-packed day, and as usually happens, everything took longer than anticipated.

By the time the well ceremonies started, everything was running late. Governor Tseepildorj sent his deputy governor in his place to the first ceremony, but Governor Bayarsaikhan and Governor Narandavaa attended all of the ceremonies. The deputy governor thanked Deseret for the contribution and said how much Zuun Kharaa appreciated the donation of these wells to provide clean water for about 30% of Zuun Kharaa’s population (about 7,000 people).

After Deseret International Charities held three of the four well-donation ceremonies, Governor Bayarsaikhan said that the fourth well ceremony would need to be rescheduled because Governor Teespildorj wanted DIC represented at an awards ceremony. We hurried over to the Drama theatre and were seated just in time for the ceremony to begin. During the ceremony, Governor Tseepildorj recognized local leaders, other NGOs and Deseret International Charities. He presented a plaque of appreciation to Deseret for its cooperation and for donating the new wells donated to Zuun Kharaa.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Deseret International Charities Gives Aid to Mongolia Herders for the Dzud Disaster

2010-05-19 13:16

Есүс Христийн сүмээс 280 сая төгрөг хандивлажээ

“Дэзэрэт Олон Улсын Энэрлийн байгууллага” нь Улсын онцгой байдлын газар, зудад нэрвэгдсэн аймгуудын засаг дарга нартай хамтран ажиллаж, гамшигт нэрвэгдсэн Монголын малчин өрхүүдэд туслан, ойролцоогоор 280 сая төгрөгийн хандив өгөөд байна. Хандивын мөнгө нь хоол хүнс, хувцас, түлш, ариун цэврийн хэрэглэл, төл малын тэжээл, хичээлийн жилийн турш малчдын хүүхдүүд байдаг цэцэрлэг, сургуулийн дотуур байрын халаалтын системийг засварлах зэрэгт зарцуулагджээ. Дээрх байгууллага нь Есүс Христийн Хожмын Үеийн Гэгээнтнүүдийн Сүмээс санхүүждэг ба Дэлхий даяарх сүмийн гишүүдийн хандиваар энэхүү тусламжийн сан бий болжээ.


Translation: Deseret International Charities donated about 280,000,000 tugriks ($200,000 US) of emergency relief to Mongolian herder families affected by the Dzud disaster and worked with the governors of seven aimags. Donated funds are being used to provide food, clothing, fuel, sanitary items and hay for young animals and repairs to heating systems of kindergarten/schools/ dormitories where herder families’ children stay during the school year. Deseret International Charities is funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and funds for the emergency were provided by donations from the Church members worldwide.