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Mongolia: Abused children find peace, healing

World Vision's youth farm provides a safe place for children to recover from domestic abuse, which affects one of every two Mongolian children. (SLIDESHOW)

January 2008

Ariunzaya proudly holds up several cucumbers she has grown at the farm World Vision opened in Mongolia to assist children from abusive home environments.
Ariunzaya proudly holds up several cucumbers she has grown at the farm World Vision opened in Mongolia to assist children from abusive home environments.
© 2007 Justin Douglass/World Vision
A small, brown-skinned girl sits on a grassy ridge, observing a river move quietly downstream. A lonely magpie flies overhead before perching in a tree across the river; meanwhile, horses and cows graze in the lush, green meadow nearby.

"I like sitting next to the river, because I feel at peace," says Ariunzaya, her almond-shaped eyes reflecting the dark currents below. The young teenager's disturbing past serves as sharp contrast to the bucolic, tranquil scene — the site of World Vision's youth farm in Mongolia.

Domestic violence an epidemic

Ariunzaya's broad, sun-darkened features tighten as she recalls how routinely her stepfather — who earned $4 on a good day by gathering firewood — came home drunk and angry. During one fit of drunken rage, she says, he broke both of her arms.

Mercifully, she was removed from the home through the efforts of a Mongolian nongovernmental organization, the National Center Against Violence, and later placed by them at the youth farm. World Vision oversees this safe haven in cooperation with Gegerel Tov, the government's informal education center.

Tragically, the wiry teenager's story is one shared by the five other youth who live on the farm. All are recovering from the horrors of domestic violence that have taken on epidemic proportions in this vast, impoverished nation located on Siberia's southern edge. According to the National Center Against Violence, of the women and children who suffered from domestic abuse and were served by the organization during 2006:

  • 71 percent suffered concussions;
  • 10 percent sustained bone fractures and other injuries (broken noses, wrists, sprained ankles, and fractured skulls); and
  • One of every four clients had considered or attempted suicide.

Meanwhile, nearly half of Mongolia's population — 47 percent — is 18 or younger, and about half of these youth are believed to have suffered some form of abuse, whether at home, school, or in care centers that dot the country. It is a bleak picture.

Slideshow: A place of restoration and growth

Watch a slideshow documenting how World Vision's youth farm in Mongolia has enabled formerly abused children to recover from their traumatic backgrounds and realize their God-given potential.

    Reason for hope

Yet compassionate adults, like World Vision's Khorulsuren Adiya, offer hope. As a social worker, Khorulsuren oversees the youth farm, which helps bring healing to Ariunzaya and the other young people there.

"I like working with children," says a smiling Khorulsuren. "I give them hope and see their lives changed."

Gegerel Tov supplies three teachers to serve the farm youth. Curriculum is tailored to the children's individual needs. Each receives vocational training as well as training in how to raise livestock and vegetables — valuable skills in this society whose economy is based mainly on farming and mining.

Keys to restoration

World Vision social worker Khorulsuren Adiya tutors Munkhzorig, a young man studying to become a mechanic.
World Vision social worker Khorulsuren Adiya tutors Munkhzorig, a young man studying to become a mechanic. "I know what it is to be in need," she says. Both her parents were teachers who barely earned enough income to feed and clothe Khorulsuren and her nine brothers and sisters.
© 2007 Justin Douglass/World Vision

Khorulsuren also provides counseling to the young people, helping them on the journey toward emotional wholeness so they can grow into mature, healthy adults. Much of her work focuses on applying biblical principles, which help these damaged young people to forgive and to overcome their difficult pasts.

She and the children agree — the farm's tranquil setting is particularly conducive to emotional and spiritual restoration. "In the evening, I collect the cows, and along the way, I look at the flowers and admire the beautiful creation God has given me," says Ariunzaya. "I like to read the Bible, as it encourages me."

During her year on the farm, Ariunzaya also has served as the chief cook for the other children. "I like making food," she says, smiling. "[Particularly] glass noodles with meat and vegetables." She even has mastered the art of catching fish with a hand line in the nearby river, where she loves spending time.

A new chapter

Ariunzaya has completed the ninth grade of her formal schooling, and in September, she entered a vocational training institute. Although the chapter of her life on the farm is now closing, she is confident about the next one in which she hopes to achieve her lifelong dream — to become a chef. World Vision is paying for her tuition.

"If World Vision did not help me, I would not be able to fulfill my dream," she says, smiling contentedly. "I can do things now, and I am able to help other people — especially my grandmother, who is elderly."

Learn more

>> Read a World Vision Magazine article about how World Vision is helping to lift disadvantaged Mongolian youth to new heights.
>> Watch a World Vision Magazine slideshow , narrated by reporter James Addis, for a behind-the-scenes look at the hardships some Mongolian youth have faced.

Two ways you can help

>> Pray for Mongolia's children, including youth like Ariunzaya, who have suffered terribly because of domestic violence. Pray for the children's protection from abuse and for organizations like World Vision, which are striving to help a new generation free itself from the ravages of domestic violence.
>> Give monthly to help children like Ariunzaya to escape a life of horror and receive the healing and hope they need to become healthy, whole young adults who are able to reach their full, God-given potential. Become a Child Crisis Partner.

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