Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Khailmag", a Mongolian sweet cheese with raisins
"Byaslag", a semi-firm Mongolian white cheese

How you helped a little Mongolian girl follow her dream...

You, yes you, have helped a little girl and her mother follow their dreams. And a thank you has come all the way from Mongolia.

You remember the story of Urangoo and her mother, Oyunbadam. Urangoo was just six years old when she decided she'd like to pursue a career in the circus, and so she convinced her parents that that's just what she'd do. Not long after, the family picked up and left their teepee home in the reindeer-herding region of northern Mongolia (a very cold, very harsh place to live), and moved to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital. As many of you know, Urangoo's father went in search of work in order to purchase a circus costume for his determined little daughter. Sadly, in so doing, he was robbed and murdered, and the family was left destitute. Things didn't get much better from there, at least not yet, and you can read about the family's plight here.

But, one thing eventually led to another, and suddenly there was a fundraiser in New York aimed at helping this family out. And that's where you came in. From Singapore to Ulaanbaatar and Cincinnati, upstate New York and Washington D.C., even the Upper East Side and the Deep South - dozens of you donated your time and money to help this family continue to follow their dreams, despite the odds that have stacked up against them. In this post, you'll see photos of the event's organizers making cheese (myself, Charles Bibilos, and Byambakhuu Darinchuulun), followed by the event itself, and finally all that money getting delivered directly into the hands of Oyunbadam, the mother who lost her husband to a dream.

So what now for Oyunbadam and Urangoo? Oyunbadam happens to be the very last (as I understand it) teacher of the Tuva language of the reindeer-herding Tsaatan people, from which she comes up in northernmost Siberian Mongolia. Without their language teacher, this ancient culture is at risk of dying. It is Oyunbadam's dream to return to her people to teach Tuva, and I'll follow her progress as she tries to do so. For now though, the money she's received from us, via the Mongolian Mission to the United Nations and the Foreign Ministry in Ulaabaatar, has covered her medical bills ($810 was delivered back in March, and the great news is she's cancer-free!) and the $1587 of donations from the NYC fundraiser will help her cover some household expenses - and help her to pursue her dream, as well as her daughter's.

I'll keep you posted! For now though, know that you have changed a few lives.

Delivering the donations to the United Nations
Byambakhuu with our Mongolian grandmother "buuz" maker

Mr Ganbold, from the Mongolian Mission to the UN,  writing a receipt for the donations
Oyunbadam, Urangoo's mother, accepting our donations from the Foreign Ministry