19 Jun Mongolia – Diary of aid-worker
In Mongolia ASIA is realising a project with nomadic shepherds and Mongolian veterinarians to counter the various diseases affecting livestock and by establishting a methodology suitable for developing resilience to dzud. ASIA’s Project Manager, Anna, is a 35-year-old veterinary who has been in Mongolia since the beginning of the project, with her testimony she tells the story of what happens on the field.
The pure, childish joy that I have felt in these first two weeks in Ulambaatar slowly dims and allows me to be more rational.
In the past two weeks I carried out research and asked questions in order to understand where I am and how the vet system – but not only – works here. I must and wish to arrange some training that can really help vets in the Sükhbaatar Province. That’s the first activity of the project named Reinforcement of the ability of all vets in the Sükhbaatar Province to improve the vet system and the resilience of herds. However, what is shown to the general public is usually quite different from reality. One cannot simply read or listen about something, but should also see it, and use both hearing and sight to understand what is real and what is not. My colleague Otgonsuren and I therefore go to Baruun-Urt, the main city of the province. We drive through big areas where tourists usually come to admire the landscapes, although this eastern region is apparently one of the least fascinating in the country.
On the road I can only see endless green and yellow rolling expanses of land. I see neither a tree, nor a bush; only vast areas with little yellowish grass. The only livings are the silhouettes of gazing animals. Moulting makes them appear thinner and in poor health. This is the season when all animals are usually thin, as the harsh Mongolian winter has just ended. Men, herds and lands are all waiting for the rain season, which usually starts in May and makes landscapes greener. A common goal, a common waiting, just to remind that here men, herds and lands are one thing, an unbreakable unity of mutual dependence.
My eyes cannot help but stare outside the window, and what seemed an empty land now looks alive: birds of prey fly away as our bus approaches, ground squirrels hide in their lairs, while elegant demoiselle cranes stand still. These unknown animals are immediately recognised by those who know Mongolia well.
Baga Nuur, Chinggis Town and Munkhhaan are among the few villages that we cross during our trip. Children point at us and snigger, their faces dirty with red from sweets with too many food colourants.
When we arrive in Baruun-Urt, we are welcomed by joyful people celebrating the beginning of the Olympic Games of the Sükhbaatar Province. Mongolian people are usually welcoming, and they take care of us from the moment we step out of the bus, although they have never seen us before.