Youth at Risk – Mongolia
(ANS – Ulan Bator) – “I’m worried when I think about the children I meet every day. Mongolian families do not take care of their children, they are interested only when the government gives them money. Often the lack of income causes families to break up. Children suffer the most because they remain on the street where they steal, are sexually abused or become prostitutes.” This is the harsh reality recounted by Salesian Brother Krzysztof Gniazdowski, a missionary in Mongolia.
In Mongolia, the land belongs to no one. The land is shared but it is loved. On it the Mongols move with respect according to the seasonal traditions. Nearly a third of the population lives in extreme poverty. The Mongols do not have a fixed residence. They camp and keep moving. This is not a problem in the dry continental climate of Mongolia. In summer they have to resist temperatures of up to 40 ° C, in winter their skin hardens with the cold. They move from place to place to find food, water and pasture for their animals.
In Mongolia it is difficult to see the fruits of missionary work. Nomads do not think of the future. They don’t build a home or care for a garden. They are not interested in education. They live hand to mouth. They are here today, tomorrow they find a job somewhere else. A service for the Mongolian population lasts only for the greeting and the farewell.
“It is difficult to build the Church on mobile foundations,” says Bro. Krzysztof. In 2013 the Catholic Church in Mongolia celebrated its first anniversary: Twenty years of Christianity in Mongolia. This year we will celebrate the ordination of the first local priest, who studied in Korea and will be ordered in Mongolia.”
The Salesians have two houses in the country, two international communities, one in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and one in Darkhan. Ulaanbaatar has Don Bosco technical school and a shelter for street children. The school, which trains about 300 students, has a good reputation and on the day of the final exams representatives of companies are waiting for the graduates outside the door. Obtaining a diploma is equivalent to signing an agreement with one of the successful companies. “This prospect encourages the students. In the culture of Mongolia I see this success as a real miracle,” he concludes.