Reform

The Teacher I Am

By Kenneth Ferriera

Light shines over the hill that overlooks the Children Of The Peak Sanctuary in Ulaanbaatar. Upstairs kindergarten teacher Solongotuya Bor prepares for the performance of her class. Today they are having their New Year’s/Christmas presentation. Children in the kindergarten will be showing their parents what they have learned. Parents help their children prepare bringing makeup from home and dresses and suits that the school has given to them. The whole process takes place in the small cramped corridors in the school. Shoes are being tied, hair is being ironed, glitter is being thrown. Parents pack tightly into the classroom looking more like a sardine can than a room for learning. One by one the performances occur children sing and dance to the delight of their parents. "I ask them how parents earn money, they said by working. I ask them how do they work, they say by suffering," said Solongo. Many of the children who go to school here have parents that work and live in the nearby garbage dump. A harsh working environment where workers have to pick up recyclables in the dump and try to sell them to make a profit. The Children of the Peak Kindergarten was established in hopes to give children a safe place to go to school. The Veeloo foundation is now building a second kindergarten in hopes further increasing the number of children form the area who can attend.

60 Meters Deep

By Kenneth Ferriera

In Mongolia, coal is necessary for life in the winter months. With temperatures dipping below —40 degrees, coal powered stoves are a cheap and effective way to warm homes, cook meals and do many daily tasks. In a town outside of Ulaanbaatar called Naliakh, private mines provide residents with 75 percent of the coal used within the city of Ulaanbaatar. Accidents in these mines are common and many of the workers are in the mines for 12—15 hours a day. Miners do a thankless job and put themselves in danger every time they go down into the mines. Many families could not make it through the cold winter months without a steady supply of coal.

A Hot Meal

By Peyton Stoike

The Lamp of the Path soup kitchen is located in one of the poorest districts in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. During the harsh winter months, the soup that is served Monday through Saturday is one of the only hot meals that these residents receive. On December 25, around 130 people came to the soup kitchen for a hot meal and a small holiday celebration.

Tensions Rising

By Isaiah Somanas

Angry shouts fill the air in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolian national flags wave from among the crowd gathered. "I wanted to add my voice to a crowd that wants to clear corruption in our government," said Oyunchimeg, 58, a doctor. "Our country is in bad shape," said Bat-Ochir, 62, a retired worker, "I don’t care if it is cold, I came here to do my part." December 27, 2018, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Sukhbaatar Squarein protest of corrupt politicians. Main stood for hours braving temperatures of minus 20 degrees. Organizers estimated a total of 25,000 demonstrators showed up, while local police counted 5,000 at most. Protesters directed their frustration at parliamentary speaker, Enkhbold Miyegombo along with the two main ruling parties. "I am here to get rid of Enkhbold and help our people," said Batmunkh, 45, a businessman. "I also want all these corrupt politicians fired and get honest people elected." Public anger has risen over time as allegations that Enkhbold and other politicians had sold off government positions for 60 billion tugriks, an estimated $23 million dollars. The Mongolia is fairly new to democracy, with its first constitution passed in 1992 after decades of Communist rule. Since then, however, Mongolia has constantly had to deal with political instability. The country has been through 15 cabinets, each lasting an average of a year and a half. "When I was a child everything was good. Everybody had a job and every child went to kindergarten," said Otgontseseg, 45, the manager of a small trading company. "Now 28 years later, everything is so hard. Although I have a job and my life is good, most Mongolians’ lives are hard." In recent years, major problems such as air pollution and health issues have plagued Mongolians. Many believe that they stem from corruption in their government. Since the implementation of democracy, many politicians have been accused of plundering the country’s resources for personal gain. Resources which were meant to go to solving public problems "When we were under Soviet rule, everything was good. People had jobs and all children went to school, but today everything is hard, and we have problems like air pollution," said Otgontseseg, "Only 3 million people live in this country but why can’t we breathe?" "It is obvious what this is doing to the country, mining all over the country, selling land to foreigners, smuggling animals. I don’t know what is next," said Bat-Ochir. "I want this country’s future to be bright, where everyone is healthy, and I want the land to be whole again."