The spring and the summer has been a very busy period of fixing all external fixtures of windows, walls, gates and the face lift of painting these areas as well to further preserve them. The extreme winters of Mongolia, with Ulaanbaatar earmarked as one of the coldest city of this world is very hard on any property.
Before we can take a break from these activities, the season is upon us to make the yearly preparations of the heating system for this winter. It is my hope and prayer that it will not be as extreme as the last one, which many of us have come to identiy as one of the coldest winters.
The central heating system of the city of Ulaanbaatar is already on but our soup kitchen located on the outskirts of the city and in the much poorer districts, lacks the access to the central heating system. We have to make provisions for our own heating and so we are abiding a time for it to get colder before we incur the costs of heating.
The spring time labour of planting our own vegetable garden with some of the more expensive varieties of vegetables has saved us from purchasing a huge amount of vegetables and also to relish in the taste of a variety of vegetables that are usually beyond our budget. The planting of the traditional medicinal tree of Sea Buckthorn on the property has been a source of great satisfaction and pride. It will be a few years before we get to pick any berries because of the very short growing season that prevails Mongolia.
By the end of August, 2013 we have served over 12,250 hot meals. The meals served during the spring and the summer have been all vegetarian, except on those occassions when people have donated meat specially for the soup kitchen.
The month of August 2013 also oversaw a huge preventive medical check-up for the homeless beneficiaries of the Soup Kitchen. This was done by the Enerel Hospital.
The check-up revealed the following:
Of these people 15 were prescribed hospitalization, 9 of them have been hospitalized, 6 are waiting due to Enerel Hospital's carrying capacity.
In the month of August the Soup Kitchen was blessed by the visit of Lama Zopa Rinpoche who is not only our major donar but also instrumental for the inception and inspiration of the soup kitchen in Mongolia. Rinpoche has left us with instructions for further improvements in the way we do things at the soup kitchen, which we hope to implement in the near future.
Most kind donors to the Soup Kitchen feeding the Homeless in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia.
Today's report has been prepared by an American student from SIT (School for International Training) who has been volunteering at the Lamp of the Path for the last two weeks.
I am a volunteer for the Lamp of the Path, and have been able to see many of the positive changes that are occurring because of this organization’s place within the community.
The day at the Lamp of the Path starts with English lessons for children from the community. These lessons, for children whose parents cannot afford to pay for classes, teach children basic English vocabulary and grammar. Every class builds a bit upon the last one, so that the children may come out with a greater understanding of English. These classes are a part of the Children’s Development Project which brings classes and activities to local kids. In addition, the teacher for these classes also visits a close by children’s home where she works with kids who can no longer live with their families. In the afternoons, high schoolers come in for review English classes, taught by a native English speaker, these classes offer these older kids an opportunity to try out their skills and expand their vocabulary.
Between these lessons, the soup kitchen opens to the community. The kitchen serves many local homeless and community members who have fallen under hard times, serving as a large source of nourishment. Men, women, and children all come in when the doors open at two o’clock for some soup and a large piece of bread, some milk tea finishes the meal. This meal also serves to foster a sense of community among the people to which it is served. After the patrons have finished eating, they are free to visit the free clinic. Staffed by an amazing doctor, she quickly aids the patrons, sending them on their way in better health than before. Having healthcare and nourishment will hopefully help to empower the patrons, and help to give them a sense of agency.
In the future, the Lamp of the Path hopes to also build a battered women’s shelter somewhere in Ulaanbaatar. Along with their other services this would further increase the amount of empowerment the nuns and staff of the NGO are trying to return to the community. The work done here, from an outsider’s perspective, is amazing and should be continued on into the future.
The Lamp of the Path NGO in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia has been servicing the community since 2003 and formally registered as an NGO in 2005. The services offered here are: a free Health Clinic, Children's Development Program and a Soup Kitchen, known to the Global Giving Community as 'Feed 80 Homeless People in Ulaanbataar'. This Soup Kitchen was one of the first of its kind in Mongolia providing a warm refuge, especially during our freezing winters by serving beneficiaries five days a week. In the first three months of 2013, we have offered 2690 hot nourishing meals. Many of our beneficiaries come from quite a distance for their one good meal of the day and some request to take a meal to individuals who could not make the trip. The free Health Clinic attached to the Soup Kitchen, has seen over 600 patients in the last three months. Most of the patients seen are the beneficiaries of the Soup Kitchen. Our in-house doctor and nurse very pro-actively engage in looking after their health, as there are many of them who have long given up on the thought of any concern for basic health care. We have also begun the year by focusing on the quality of our services offered, better time management of our staff and as always, looking for ways to save on our costs through improving our efficiency in the way we conduct our services. Please know that all this has been made possible solely through the kindness of your generosity, for which we are most grateful. Thanking you always!
2012 began with a change of leadership for Lamp of the Path when David Szeto from Singapore became the Director. Unfortunately he was unable to complete a full year and left late in September and Roy Fraser was asked to fill in until the end of the year when a new appointment was made.
However during these changes the primary activities of LOP have continued unabated. This includes our work at Dolma Ling Community Centre which is the base of our operations and the location of the Soup Kitchen which Friends of Humanity have kindly supported.
We continue to offer food to homeless and poor people 5 days a week as we have since 2004. For these people this is the one hot meal a day they are able to receive in extreme weather conditions which was minus 33 Celsius when the accompanying photos were taken. Also in conjunction with the hot meal they are able to use the other services the Community Centre offers including free medical attention and free clothing and foot wear.
The services offered are aimed not just at making a better life for our clients but affording them the most basic requirements for survival. As such your kind contribution to our Soup Kitchen has definitely saved lives in 2012. On behalf of our beneficiaries
THANK YOU SO MUCH
As the name implies the main function of the soup kitchen is provide homeless and poor with a hot nourishing meal. This has now been happening 5 days per week for 8 years with an average of 55 meals per day so providing over 13,000 meals in 2012. The only requirement for use of our facility is to not be under the influence of alcohol when on the premises. While other Christian based organisations require a commitment to practice the religion before a meal is made available that is not the case at DLCC. This leads to us providing for the most needy and desperate, many of whom have a mental disability. As with most societies the most vulnerable include children and solo parents. While the children who attend can no longer be classed as street children since the Mongolian Government has introduced safety nets which have almost eliminated them, many children come from dysfunctional homes and for them the hot meal we provide is often the only meal of the day despite having somewhere to live.
Solo mothers have a very difficult time in Mongolia especially if there is no family support. But even with providing a daily meal it is often not enough to sustain milk production for nursing mothers. These mothers and babies are monitored by our Health Clinic, which is in the same building and when required mothers receive extra rations and often food to take home. Despite this it often happens that for nutritional reasons the mother’s milk will dry up. When this happens the soup kitchen provides supplementary food for the child.
In this way we not only save a life but try and ensure the youngest reach school age without nutritional problems affecting their ability to learn during early childhood. When required the soup kitchen also provides clothing to children so they are not stigmatised as street people at a young age when entering formal education.
In this and many other ways the soup kitchen does much more than offering a hot meal.
As with any social project which offers a free service our ability to continue operating depends on funding. Mongolia has a recent history of double digit annual inflation for the past 5 years. This has put a lot of pressure on our ability to continue offering this essential service. We have managed to reduce costs through stuff reductions, by combining tasks and by changing the way we purchase our supplies. For example this winter we were able to purchase a small van load of the internal organs of animals which we are able to keep frozen due to the extremely low temperatures outdoors. The one load is sufficient to ensure every meal has a high standard of nutrition for the entire winter. However the other side of the inflationary pressure is the need to ensure our staff salaries are realistic. Given the challenges we feel our budget for 2013 is realistic and we are providing our meals at the cost of USD 1:75 per meal including all costs.
Thank You Very Very Much.
Calling in from the Soup Kitchen in Ulaanbaatar where we have experienced a decrease of beneficiaries over the past 3 months - from 80 to an average of 50 per day. This was partly because this period was the summer of Mongolia when the conditions are less extreme. However, we anticipate this number will increase in this next 3 month period with the onset of the extremely harsh Mongolian winter. The nomads are predicting that we are in for an unusually cold winter due to a wet summer! Following on from the advice of the Nutritionist from the US Embassy, we have been able to maintain serving a full bodied and considerably more healthy hot soup meal. We are thankful that some Mongolians continue to donate much needed ingredients from time to time and, more recently, kind donors from Singapore gave funds to a well known Mongolian bread company to donate 40 pieces of fresh bread two times per week for up to 4 months. This is being very well received. During this period we have received approximately USD1,500 from various donors and have distributed this towards the soup kitchen, free health clinic and children's development project. In August, a volunteer medical team from Malaysia comprising some 15 Doctors and Nurses visited Lamp of the Path and generously donated their expertise and basic medicines to the underprivileged people mainly in the Byanzurkh District, the location of the soup kitchen and medical clinic. LOP received approximately USD 3000 as a result of this activity. Our South East Asian brothers and sisters were very moved from this direct interaction with the poor in UB. The soup kitchen receives it's water from a well at the front of the property and late last winter due to some water pipe problems, the pipes froze and we had to carry the water quite some distance on foot. This resulted in having to spend the past month doing some major works to repair the pipes and instal a new thermostat. US Embassy staff have assisted us greatly with this work, providing advice, tools and skilled trades people and we are pleased to report this work was successfully completed last week ....... Just in time as the night temperatures are now dropping well below zero Celsius! The Embassy staff also uncovered some unsafe electrical wiring and installations in the soup kitchen and have offered to assist us in making these safe in the near future. Looking to the horizon, we aspire to fulfil a "meals on wheels" service taking hot meals to people in the poor ger districts of UB - for those not having the means to travel to the soup kitchen - there are many people young and old in need of this assistance. Heartfelt gratitude to all our past and present donors. Please keep the homeless of Ulaanbaatar in your heart and continue to support us in whatever way you are able to.
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