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Home > About US > Magazine > Mongolia: Tunnel Vision

[(c)2007 Justin Douglass/World Vision]

Bilguan recalls life beneath the streets.

World Vision magazine, Autumn 2007

By James Addis

When Bilguan, 16, learned to play the flute at a World Vision Lighthouse center, he discovered that his love for the instrument helped steady his turbulent emotions.

He fled home at age 10 after repeated beatings by his policeman stepfather who would handcuff him to a radiator and whip him with an electrical cord. Other times he would lock him out on the balcony of their apartment, barely clothed, even in the winter. Bilguan recalls pleading at the window, but his stepfather just carried on watching television.

Bilguan eventually sought refuge in Ulaanbaataar’s infamous tunnels. “Inside they are dark and full of cockroaches and rats,” he says. “You see by candlelight. There are usually two pipes—one hot and one cold. It’s better to sleep under the cold pipe, otherwise it’s too hot. The hot pipes are so hot you can cook food on them. When we had money we would buy beef patties and cook them on the pipes.

“Your skin sweats a lot and gets very itchy. It’s best to sleep near the manhole so you can get out during the night and get some air. But it’s mostly adults who sleep there. Children are pushed further down the tunnel. Once people came in and started beating us. I got lots of blows to the head.”

Does it hurt to remember all this?

“It helps to talk; it brings healing,” he says. “When I play the flute, I feel at peace on the inside.”

Learn More

>>Go behind the scenes of this story. Listen to the author's commentary, see more photos from Mongolia, and enjoy music by the Children of the Blue Sky Choir.

>>Read Upwardly Mobile, to see how education can change the lives of children in Mongolia.

>>Read The Price of Gold, the story of a child laborer in rural Mongolia.

Get Involved

>> Pray for children in Mongolia. Pray that they would be granted opportunities to improve their lives through education.

>> Make a donation to help ensure every young student has the resources he or she needs to enroll in school and do their best.

The feature above was published in
World Vision MagazineAutumn 2007 [pdf].

Also in this issue:

What Education Means to Me
A collection of quotes and photographs show childrens universal desire for schooling.

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