* Updated June 2023
Asral is the Mongolian word for ‘care’ and Asral NGO (https://www.asralmongolia.org/) was founded by High Tibetan Lama, Ven. Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche. In 1994 Rinpoche was invited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to assist with the plight of Mongolian people after the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus Asral NGO was created. Since its foundation, Asral has helped with the ever-present levels of poverty and social problems in Mongolia – specifically in the Bayangol ger district – one of the largest ger districts in Ulaanbaatar.
The core aim of Asral is to help keep Mongolian families under stress together thereby helping to prevent children from ending up on the street – whether that be they are running away from their home life or they have no home. Asral’s multi-purpose centre (the Kunchab Jampaling Buddhist Centre) located in the Bayangol ger district of Ulaanbaatar, houses many of Asral’s social initiatives and training projects (such as their Made In Mongolia feltmaking project that we work in partnership with) and community activities.
The Hot Meal Project is one of Asral’s initiatives. The aim of the project is to focus on the education and health of children who cannot be cared for by their parents or guardians. It provides support and protection against challenging living conditions, neglect, and street violence. Community leaders from the Bayangol ger district select approximately 30-35 of the most vulnerable children aged between the ages of six and sixteen to participate in the Hot Meal Project. This comes under Asral’s Improving Access to Education scheme. The Hot Meal Project ensures the poorest families get support in ensuring their children get to school each day. The children are given a hot lunch from Monday to Friday, get extra tuition and help with their homework – all at the Asral centre. Also as participants of the project, their health needs are provided for as well as additional support in clothing/ school uniforms, books and school supplies. The project has a working group of Mongolian language and mathematics teachers. There is also a team of social workers on hand who work to provide psychological counselling.
As a company, we are always touched by the kindness and generosity of our EL guests who are always keen to bring gifts with them for the Mongolian people they meet. We have almost an entire page in our Practicalities document dedicated to gift ideas – ranging from yo-yos through to handkerchiefs. We mentioned to Bumaa – the Director of Asral – about how EL guests are often keen to bring items from their home countries as a way of offering support and assistance … and thus the ‘stuff your rucksack for Asral NGO’ idea was born. For those of you travelling to Mongolia with EL (or planning to!), following is a list of items from our ‘stuff your rucksack for Asral NGO’ campaign. All can help to make a practical difference.
Once you arrive in Ulaanbaatar, we will arrange for you to visit Asral NGO to deliver any items you bring. We have a duty of care and we will arrange for you to hand the gifts over to the adult team at Asral rather than individual children.
Please only bring items if you can. It is not obligatory. Remember, Mongolia is not a pack-light destination at the best of times, so you may not have a lot of extra space.
If you’re reading this and travelling to Mongolia but separate to EL but would still like to be of help then that’s great. Please get in touch and we can provide assistance.
Small School Items
Small Additional Items
For those of you who would like to help but have no space. You can also purchase items here in Ulaanbaatar and we can arrange for you to donate them to Asral. For more on the other local projects we work with and support – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/responsible-tourism-mongolia/
Get Packing! Or should we say stuffing?! Jess @ Eternal Landscapes