Ulaanbaatar is home to over a million people, and the heart of Mongolia. It is the capital and, by a large margin, the country's largest city. It is also at the centre of government administration, finance and transportation in this landlocked nation.
Though the country's natural resources wealth has brought limited economic growth, this has not been equally shared by the country's citizens. Helping poor Mongolian families give their children all the care they deserve remains as important as ever.
In Ulaanbaatar poverty levels are high in the large and growing 'ger' districts that have developed on the outskirts of the city. Gers are large circular tents that are traditionally favoured by nomadic groups in Mongolia, but have become a common site in the capital.
They are largely inhabited by new migrants who are unable to find the permanent employment, which would allow them to move into a house or apartment. Ger districts have very limited access to basic public services, such as water and sanitation, and life for the people living there is precarious and hard.
Poverty in Mongolia is directly related to a wide range of social problems, which affect children particularly badly. Alcoholism and abuse are a regular part of life for many who come from poor families, and this severely hampers their healthy development.
Just as importantly, parents often struggle to fulfil even the basic needs of their children and in the worst cases are forced to live on the street and send their children to work. Without a healthy start in life they will struggle to achieve their potential later in life.
What we are doing for children in Ulaanbaatar
In 2002 we began providing homes for children in Ulaanbaatar who had no one else to care for them. Since then, we have expanded our work and now support children and families throughout the city.
Getting the right start
Having the opportunity to succeed is important for ensuring that poor children can escape the cycle of poverty that has trapped their parents. Proper education is essential, so we have worked to ensure that all children get this chance by offering advice and practical support, such as space to do homework and help with exam preparation.
We also apply our efforts more broadly to help families support their children. We have launched a number of successful health awareness campaigns in collaboration with local hospitals, and provide a range of training workshops to teach parents income generating skills.
A caring home
At our SOS Children's Village, Ulaanbaatar's most vulnerable children can find a home with an SOS family. Here, SOS mothers provide a loving environment for children who cannot live with their parents. The Village also hosts a number of cultural activities, allowing children to gain an understanding of their culture and make friends in the local community.
When they are old enough, young people from SOS families can move into the accommodation provided as part of the SOS youth programme. Here, they are able to embark on further training or education and are supported by qualified counsellors as they take their first independent steps.
In this desperately poor region of Mongolia, we provide shelter and support for children who would otherwise grow up alone and vulnerable. Please help. Sponsor a child.