One of the things that Denis Sobnakov loves most about being an Intrepid group leader is introducing travellers to inspiring local characters. Mongolia is a perfect example of how in one day you can come away with a lasting impression of a country and its people…
“Despite being a gorgeous and wonderful land, nowadays Mongolia has a lot of social issues that are not easy to overcome in a hurry. One of the biggest problems is the high rate of abandoned kids. Fortunately there are some generous people who have made it their priority to help the local community, like those who run Lotus Children’s Centre.
Our group was on the way to Ananda vegetarian café when I got a phone call from Lotus to say everything is ready to go. After having a beautiful lunch we met our Lotus guide Tsetseg, she told us a bit about the foundation – how they came to the idea to adopt homeless and abandoned kids, how many children are in the orphanage now, the way of life of these kids, etc. She also told us that she is a former orphan and now she works at the centre. Tsetseg spoke with such passion and commitment that our group was enthralled.
A bus took us to one of the two Lotus summer camps. When the children saw us coming they ran to our bus. We were mobbed by welcoming kids wanting us to come with them and show us everything in their camp. There were about 50 children of different ages, many of them eager to get our attention and practice their English. They are keen to learn and speak English, because they know how much it could help them in the future. We talked with them, we played volleyball and other interesting games. Then a founder of the orphanage arrived. Didi Kalika is a legendary woman who has spent 17 years of her life helping Mongolian kids. We talked with her about almost everything and the group really appreciated her candid discussion about life in Mongolia.
The children had prepared a little performance for us. We sat on small benches in the middle of the meadow and they started singing. You could tell that the kids were taking it very seriously, but they were such talents and great personalities. Six of the girls, aged 5 to 12 years, danced almost professionally. By the end of the show they were eager for our group to join in, so Jerome took out his harmonica and started to play some Australian tunes. It was so much fun for everybody, the kids clapped and laughed and our guys sang along.
That day I think was one of our sunniest in Mongolia, not only because of the warm weather, but we were all touched by the experience. It was a heart-warming moment to make friends with these local children and see the sunshine that Didi and her amazing team bring into the lives of these disadvantaged kids each day!”
This year Lotus Children’s Centre is the chosen charity of the Mongol Rally and Intrepid is sponsoring a team of two very adventurous women who are undertaking the ultimate road trip. Pam and Charlie will be driving overland all the way from Prague to Ulaanbaatar. Click here find out more about their incredible journey and show your support by giving to Lotus Children’s Centre via The Intrepid Foundation and Intrepid Travel will match your donation!
Photo: © Lotus Children’s Centre