After knowing that Martin and I would split up for a while (because he was cycling through Mongolia) I started looking into what I could be doing. First my eyes were set in southern China, but soon I decided that I wanted to go to Mongolia after all and spend my time there. I was looking at 6-8 weeks where I could be useful as a volunteer in Ulaanbaatar.
After searching on the internet I had found multiple organizations that looked interesting for me. I was looking to spend my time useful, learning, getting out of my comfort zone and contributing to the organization. I know there is a lot of talk about voluntourism and I would always be very wary if I would have to pay money to volunteer and I was interested to know more before investing my time in any project. While volunteering you can’t save the world. It is also important not to take a space that can be filled by a local as a job, but still fresh eyes can mean a lot for an organization and sometimes it just helps to be there. Please ask these questions before you start to volunteer anywhere. I was also looking into options where I could use my experience in guiding young students while thinking about there future steps (which I had done in my previous job).
So eventually I had a positive reply from two organizations and because I got to know some people in the city while I was in Ulaanbaatar more opportunities arose.
You can find photos of these projects here: Volunteer Projects Ulaanbaatar.
The first organization where I started was at The Peak Sanctuary, part of Veloo Foundation. They started a small scale kindergarten in the north-west of Ulasnbaatar on the edge of the city and recently they had the chance to expand because of the donation of a new building. At the moment there are 100 children at this kindergarten in the age of three to five years old. The mission of the sanctuary is: “A project designed to help alleviate the suffering and neglect of the most vulnerable and marginalized children in an Ulaanbaatar neighborhood whose residents make a living and feed and clothe their families with items scavenged from the rubbish dump.”