It’s a simple room. Beige wooden panelled walls, big white ceramic tiles on the floor, lit by cool neon lights. Yet on every afternoon at 4pm, it gets filled with laughter, bursts of joy and positive energy. Like magic, at that time, a great number of children, sometimes as many as 40, flock to its small locale to play board games, draw pictures, compete at table tennis or basketball, and participate in many other activities. This is the oratory of the Don Bosco center in Darkhan.
The children are mostly between 4 and 16. They are from the neighbourhood. They sometimes come alone, but most of the times, they come with their sibling or friends. In all cases, they arrive with a willingness to make new friends by playing one of the great numbers of games available to them. While doing so, they learn the valuable lessons on sharing, on cooperation, and most importantly on friendship.
It is of course inevitable that conflicts arise time to time, given the competitive spirit of the children. Also, limited number of games forces them to be patient and to take turns, which isn’t always easy for them. There will be minor feuds and quarrels. However, these little issues are quickly put to rest by the attentive care of Fr. Jaroslav, the Salesian priest, who is the main caretaker during oratory. He is a man of many titles: referee, games master, games participant, friend, and paternal figure. He, originally from Czech Republic, patiently listens to the children, using the Mongolian language he acquired during the last year. He is firm but fair. There isn’t a problem he isn’t able to resolve with all parties being satisfied.
Fr. Jaroslav is constantly trying his best to improve this time of gathering, because he is aware that this isn’t of course just a time for play and fun. It is the first contact for many children with the Don Bosco center and our Church. Fr. Jaroslav is very aware that this ministry is very important, and tries to make sure he is able to use this time to build a relationship with the children. For new comers, they leave with a sense that they matter, that someone cares for them deeply enough to offer them this time of fun. They certainly will be back. For the regulars, it is a confirmation that they have a place to go to, everyday, a place that will welcome them rain or shine.