Street Children Remain Neglected

Street Children Remain Neglected

Friday, 06 April 2007
By Damien Dawson
WAKING from an uncomfortable dream, not with the bounding energy of an intrepid reporter (it’s a little early for that), I contemplate my luck that at least I can emerge from it. While trying to think of some journalistic genius to impress myself with, I look out of my small, square window and it is plain to see that others do not have such luxury. Nor is this a one-off, as these are the same sights that I have seen almost everyday for a little short of 12 months.

It’s just after 8:00 am. A little girl is stumbling over piles of rubbish, bones and sanitary waste. She wears a pair of boots that are far too big for her short, thin legs, an old, tattered, brown deel and a dirty yellow scarf wrapped around her neck. Her face is a muddy brown color, stained with dirty water where she’s used muddy snow to wipe her face, dried out as it is with the dust and smoke of the cramped underground dwellings, where she lives with her younger sister and other homeless people. She does this any number of times each day before disappearing down a manhole hidden between a row of garages behind my apartment block.

Her name is Narantuya, which roughly translates as bright sunshine. Nara is 10 years old and the sole guardian of her little sister Moogii. These sisters spend their days rummaging through piles of rubbish. They look for enough food to last through the day, wandering from place to place, sometimes walking across the whole city in search of food. They share this daily task with homeless drunks and street dogs, all searching through the same piles of scraps. They make ends meet (barely) by begging, collecting bottles that they sell to recycling plants and anything else that they can scavenge that might have some monetary value.

Although homeless and orphans, these children consider themselves lucky. "Some children are sent out to beg by their parents who use the money they get to buy alcohol, even if they’re not homeless," Nara tells me. These children do not want their names or their faces to be seen in Mongolian newspapers because of the shame this will bring to their families. They at least are trying to retain their national pride. Others that they consider less fortunate than themselves are those forced into selling themselves on the streets, while their pimps are protected by corrupt policemen, who in some cases control the prostitutes themselves.

The children live in groups under the manholes to help stave off drunks who try to assault the young girls. Nara tells me, "Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t …" A quiet resignation infests these children that this is their lot in life.
Beyond all of the degradation, suffering and humiliation of being homeless, if it was thought imaginable, there is a further deeper and darker fate that could haunt the lives of the homeless children living in Ulaanbaatar’s alleyways and heating ducts.

In a week when the western world celebrates the anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, abducted women and children are being transported across the Chinese border in a modern-day slave trade.
The western world is dimly but increasingly aware of this, but it remains firmly at the back of the minds of those that possess the power to deal with the plight of those who are part of Mongolia’s future.


11 thoughts on “Street Children Remain Neglected

  1. thats disgusting of what is happening.
    people need to be less self-centered and care more about children. if children are the future of tomorrow then answer me 1 question. Why is no one doing anything?

  2. NON of this is true!!!

    I have been worked in Mongolia for 3.5 years as a teacher!!!

    Just over salted story!!!

    Please do not take this as a true story!!!

  3. It is not an exaggerated story. Damien Dawson is right and the sad thing is here in Mongolia, people do not want to confront the horrific reality and instead choose to remain ignorant!

  4. It is all true and more I worked with children like this in UB at various community run centers that you can find in UB. The Lotus Centre and the Equal Steppe Centre are only two donation run organizations in UB, which are always struggling and shame on a teacher for saying that children in Mongolia are not in need.

  5. This man John is probably a miner and not a teacher unless you are blind you cannot see the street children in UB. You can see on other site the comments such people also leave, all people who read this please know this is the truth.

  6. Unfortunately it is true,,and our government and todays’ system are not working for the people, especially poor and low income people. It was not like this before, It began when boorish and uneducated people came into government,when they developed corruption system in, they learned that they can do everything with money. They sell our nature resources, they sell our soil and lands, maybe they will sell us, the Mongolians. Thank you Dawson. Unfortunately it is true. We had not had any experience like this before
    “their” Democracy. I think it is not Democracy after all.

  7. Lovely words from my Mongolian friend, Mr Dawson certainly does speak the truth, Mongolia is both a beautiful and poor country, with a way of life that needs preserving for posterity. The poverty and desperation that Damien talks about is caused by corruption and greed; in the government, expatriate/foreign businesses and mining corporations robbing Mongolia of it’s resources. ‘JOHN you did not teach with grammar that bad!’ I’ve seen this documentary and it’s heartbreaking, it’s not about the man, it’s about a country and a people that he sees being taken advantage of by greedy businessmen.

  8. I met Mr Dawson at the annual Mongolian society meeting in the US a few weeks ago. He speaks about Mongolia with great affection. I can only re-iterate that what he and the other Journalists on this website say is true.

  9. this is true that happens in Mongolia. it has started about on 1993, mostly homeless people already get alcoholic and just live for their drinks. This is bad further for us,

  10. It is very true all about mongolia. The corruption is unbeatable nowadays in Mongolia. It getting more and more spread, and they can do anything with that horrible corruption system.

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