Katieholder’s Blog

Work and Bad Things

So, I’m on my second week back at site after a 2 month leave and it’s been going really well. My sitemates and I have been working on getting a plan together for Alcohol Awareness Week and are working on getting a weekly English Movie Night started for 9th – 11th graders at a local school.

Our plans for AAW so far include showings of the Peace Corps produced film “After Sunset” which shows how alcoholism affects Mongolians.  My sitemates and I have decided to focus on high school students and I’ve put together a booklet for parents on how they can talk to their kids about alcohol. We’re also going to have a poster contest and an essay writing contest for 3 schools here in Erdenet.  I’m going to try to get the local paper to cover the events, but first we have to get buy ins from the 3 schools we’re focusing on.

My agency work has been going well and we’re gearing up for our fall trade fair. I’m working on projects with each advisor and am in the process of getting together action plans for each project. My manager (Anar) is really cool to work with and we’ve been brainstorming ideas on how to get the branch sustainable in the next year.

So, everything was going really well until I saw 2 things that made me pause, shake my head, and wonder what the hell I’m doing here.

The first thing I saw was this man outside our office building, so drunk he couldn’t even stand up and on the verge of passing out on the front steps. That’s not too unusual here, but what really made me angry was that his son, about 8 years old, was trying to get him up. I know this kid, since he hangs around the office building in the winter begging for money (I buy him food whenever I see him) to help support his family. The kid has an older brother who also begs and a disabled younger sibling that his mother has to stay home and take care of. Obviously, the father isn’t doing much to help out the family.

The second thing I saw was from the window of my office. I was packing up my bag for the day when all of my co-workers rushed to the window. I walked over and asked “Yuu en?” or “What’s going on?” to which they responded “Fight”. And it most certainly was, though, I would have used the word “beating” for what was going on. A man was literally kicking a woman in the head outside one of the apartment buildings. There were two people in between them trying to stop him, but he would get a kick or punch in about twice a minute. This lasted for about 10 minutes.

Excuse the language, but I blurted out “What the f**k?!” after I saw the first kick. Anar turned to me and said “Where are the cops?” and I turned to him and said “I don’t know, maybe we should call them”. It was kind of like seeing a lightbulb go off in all their heads. They all reached for their cell phones and tried dialing the police. Like, “oh yeah, I guess we could call them instead of just watching this woman get the shit kicked out of her like it’s a pay per view fight”.

Of course the police line was busy. As I stood there and watched, I was torn between my conscience and my safety. I really wanted to go down there and take this guy down with a well placed kick and then pummel him. However, I didn’t want to get pummeled myself and/or hauled off to jail. Fortunately, 3 large men walked up to the guy and handily took care of the situation. Unfortunately, it took 10 minutes for someone to intervene. After that, the cops showed up.

I explained to my co-workers that if this had taken place in any American city, citizens themselves would have stopped the fight and not waited on the police to intervene.

The reason I’m telling you these stories is to illustrate the general attitude here in Mongolia. Many people here have the attitude of “if it’s not happening to me, I don’t care about it”. This is the attitude that I want to try to change here. The more I see it here, the more I’m grateful that MOST Americans have a “Love thy neighbor” approach to life. We give money to charities, we don’t litter, we volunteer and generally have a helpful attitude to our fellow man.

This is one of the great things about being an American and I hope you all keep doing it and encourage others to practice the Golden Rule. Let’s be good examples and hope the world follows.


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