Days and Nights in a Ger
57-year-old Jargalsaikhan opens the small wooden door and bends over as he enters his ger (tent). After a long day’s work, he has finally returned home for some much-needed rest. His wife Tuya thoughtfully helps him out of his cold clothing and gets a basin of water so he can wash his hands.
Tuya, 42, is a housewife. After being pecked at by a chicken when she was just one year old, her left eye is blind, and she has limited vision in her right eye. Due to her physical condition, she is unable to work and the burden of caring for the family falls on husband Jargalsaikhan, who performs casual labour at coal mines and construction sites. His income is extremely unstable.
Tuya and her husband have four children, ranging in age from nine to 24. Their eldest daughter is married with two children, while Tuya’s 15-year-old son is studying in Nalaikh. Tuya and her husband, their two youngest daughters and their eldest daughter’s family live together in an 18-year-old ger. Eight people must eat, sleep, wash and more in a cramped 12×12 square foot space.
In Mongolia, around 60% of the country’s population lives in gers, so Tuya’s family situation is not unique. And like most ger families, they don’t have clean water and sanitation. Tuya’s two young daughters must push a trolley to the water station every day to get water for the family. The younger girl Munkhzul says, “We usually get water once a day, but sometimes we go three or four times.”
The outdoor toilet near their home is built out of planks and has no water and electrical supply. With just a few wooden boards laid over a pit and a door that’s falling apart, using it can be treacherous. During the winters, where temperatures can drop to tens of degrees below zero, they must step carefully on the icy wooden boards to avoid slipping and falling.
With only her husband’s meagre income to sustain them, Tuya’s family faces many problems. Most of the time, they eat one meal a day, and they have no extra money to improve basic things. “This winter, we haven’t prepared what we need for cold-proofing. I’m worried that the children will get cold,” says Jargalsaikhan on his household’s dilemma. Join the 30-Hour Famine and take loving action to bring about change for vulnerable families like Jargalsaikhan’s!