The next morning we headed to the Children's Blue Skies Ger Village back in Ulaan Baatar. This is currently the home of 47 children who come from backgrounds of terrible neglect, abuse, family dysfunction etc. They live there for as long as necessary, which may be until they are finished college and where they are loved, nurtured and given a childhood. They attend school and take part in many activities such as sports, art and craft, music, drama, dance, Tai Kwan Do etc. A lot of the food is grown on site and is very healthy. Their psychological needs are tended to by on-site therapists and each child is given as much support as they need with daily, several times weekly or fortnightly therapy sessions.
Meeting the children was overwhelming. They put on an amazing day to welcome us and it's something I still think about. In the morning the children sang, danced, did some hip hop, put on a play and performed music. After a delicious lunch outside in the sun, we all chose an activity. I took part in some music fun and we ended up having a type of jamming session.
Next it was back to the main Ger for more performances by the children, finishing up with the choir singing in Mongolian and English. We were given presents made by the children and also by the art teacher.
Just before we left, Tom the manager, told the kids that there was a surprise outside for them. We didn't know anything about this! With some of our money the Ger village had bought ten new bikes of different sizes for the kids. It was a dream of many of them to have a bike, so it was a pretty special moment when we saw their faces as they spotted the bikes lined up outside with balloons and ribbons. The smallest bikes were for the tiny tots up to full size for the older teenagers.
The staff are doing amazing work as to meet the children it wasn't obvious what horrors they had been through and there was a lot of laugher, fun and games. It's an incredible place
The next day I was taken to meet my current and former sponsor children. This was another overwhelming and amazing day. Oyunbold, 26, is now a doctor and is married with a little girl, while Eneral is nine years old and wants to become a doctor. The difference in their living conditions was stark – what the sponsorship can change for the families was so evident through the years of support. Oyunbold's parents were very emotional and told me that only for the support they wouldn't have survived as it was all they had to live on. I didn't know what to do with that information as I had thought I was just lending a hand over the years, but it actually saved the lives of four people.
It was very humbling meeting both families and seeing first-hand what they were experiencing and the challenges they have faced and continue to face.
When I came home it took me over a month to readjust to being back and to start to process everything. There were so many layers to the trip and it was a full time job working through it all. I'm so thankful to have taken the opportunity as it is truly something I will cherish for my life.
I'm doing some volunteer work with the foundation for the past few months, helping in the office, speaking about my trip at a volunteer evening and doing the mini marathon. I've seen it all first hand and I know how important it is that we continue to help these children and their families. If we don't, they will suffer even more. It doesn't take much for each individual to contribute something, anything, to help the foundation to continue. It has changed me and I definitely feel inspired by Christina and everyone involved with the Foundation.