[(c)2007 Justin Douglass/World Vision]
An education means Bayarsaikhan’s mining days are numbered.
World Vision magazine, Autumn 2007
By James Addis
These are the last days Bayarsaikhan, 18, will crawl down a 400-foot, winding, dark hole, guided by a flickering candle, inhaling clouds of dust.
He is searching for gold. He hacks away at the rock face and puts the lumps that are chipped off in a bag to be dragged to the surface.
Normally he works three to four days to fill a truck with rocks and is paid according to the quantity of gold extracted. The most Bayarsaikhan has made from a truckload is $120. Sometimes he has made just $2.
Bayarsaikhan quit school and started mining when his father suffered a stroke and couldn’t work. Bayarsaikhan was determined to support his older sister, who is studying English and planning to become a tour guide.
In 2002, Bayarsaikhan joined a World Vision informal education class in his village, which helped him pass his eighth-grade exams. This means he is eligible to begin a hospitality course to fulfill his dream of becoming a chef. When his sister graduates, she will help him with his tuition fees. “I’ll gladly leave the mining,” he says.
One can understand why. Poorly regulated mines, where Bayarsaikhan works, are notorious for shaft collapses and explosives accidents. In Mongolia, bout 10-15 percent of mine workers are children—some as younger than 12.
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