February 16, 2009

2/16/09 Black Cloud...

For Mongolians, the lunar year is coming to a close. In every home across the land, families are preparing for Tsagaan Sar. Everyone young and old are preparing food for the festivities and doing a thorough 'spring cleaning'. Every day I find new volunteers scrubbing every square inch of the Center. The staff tell me of spending whole days making thousands of buuz (recipe). The feeling is that a good start to the New Year is a good indicator of the coming 12 months. Just imagine Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter rolled into one holiday and you might get close to what Tsagaan Sar is here in Mongolia.

And while the staff and the center do a lot of work to help others, tragedy hit closer to home last night. All the staff have treated me like family without exception and that is one of the reasons I love it here. But Tsetsgee and her family have gone out of their way to make me always feel welcome. Besides being a fellow English teacher, she has really been my big sister here, always looking out for me, making sure I get enough to eat, that I feel needed. We have become a very good team, she and I. Last night, Tsetsgee's family had a major fire in their home. Although not completely destroyed, they spent the night in rooms at the center. Today she said they would be working to make the house livable again. It would be difficult for anybody, but with children I'm sure it's a struggle. With the holidays in just a few days, it couldn't have come at a worst time. Unlike in the west, there is no such thing as insurance to cover damages and begin repairs. The only insurance you have are you family, your friends and the kindness of strangers. The staff began collecting donations from everyone to help Tsetsgee and her family.

[UPDATE; I want to thank everyone again for their generous online donations
to help Tsetsgee's family. Thank you thank you thank you.]

I couldn't do it without my coworker Tsetsgee