Voices

Confidence through contortion in Mongolia

Contortion — the art of flexing and bending your body into jaw-dropping positions — is a highly-respected, centuries-old tradition in Mongolia. As part of our development program in the area, World Vision supports a contortion class to help children have fun and develop social skills.

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Children living in and around Mongolia’s second-largest city of Darkhan face formidable obstacles in life.

Many residents live in extreme poverty and are unemployed and homeless. Malnutrition is widespread, along with diseases caused by poor hygiene.

To address these problems, a World Vision development program promotes good health and nutrition, offers support for children’s education, and helps struggling families establish thriving small businesses.

But the program recognizes that having fun and developing social skills is also important.

Contortion is a highly-respected, centuries-old tradition in Mongolia. World Vision supports a contortion class to help children develop social skills.
Sisters Baljinnyam, 11, and Lhagvadulam, 14, have gained confidence through World Vision’s afterschool contortion program. (©2012 World Vision/photo by Khulan Ishdorj)

So it offers children activities such as dance classes, chess tournaments, and an afterschool contortion program.

Sisters Lhagvadulam, 14, and Baljinnyam, 11, are among the art of contortion’s rising stars.

Much of their lives are devoted to helping their family survive — rising early to gather water, taking care of livestock, and collecting animal dung for fuel. The girls’ restricted lifestyle made them somewhat withdrawn.

But attending the World Vision contortion class has helped them escape the daily grind and broaden their horizons. They have won medals in both local and national competitions.

Baljinnyam says learning contortion and taking part in competitions has also helped the girls communicate between themselves and with others.

“Before, we used to be very shy and mostly prefer to stay at home, but now we have been spending our free time very effectively,” Baljinnyam says. “Our lifestyle has changed since we have been involved in the contortion club.”


Khulan Ishdorj is a World Vision communications officer based in Mongolia.

Poverty leaves many Mongolian parents unable to provide adequate care or shelter for their children. Your gift of one share of a Mongolian ger will help protect a family from the cold temperatures and icy winds that whip across the barren region.

These traditional one-room dwellings are constructed of durable, felt-lined canvas stretched over a wooden frame and floor to withstand severe weather. Your gift can also help provide furniture based on the needs of the family — such as a bed, storage chest, table, and stools.

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