In Mongolia, Dulamsuren is the perfect example of how goats are helpful to people!
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Here in Mongolia — our first of three countries as we travel to explore how other goats are helpful around the world — my grandkid Billy and I are being hosted by a huge herd that lives in the Valley of the Painting Pen. I’ve already written about this amazing landscape (and don’t get me started on a tangent about the delicious grass here … again), but let’s suffice it to say that we are thoroughly enjoying our first new country!
Now that we’ve been here for a few days, we’ve grown quite accustomed to Mongolia: the time change, the different food, the wide-open spaces for roaming (my hooves were killing me on our second morning!), and the slower pace of daily life.
I must say, I was a little bit scandalized when I first realized that all the animals (over 300 in total!) sleep huddled up together at night. Goats, sheep, yaks, horses, camels. But by the time we woke with the sun, I was a believer — it is so much warmer! And quite necessary on these winter nights. You don’t know the true meaning of a thermal blanket or space heater until you’ve tried sleeping beside a yak.
The herd huddles up together right beside the circular gers where the people live. (They sleep inside them because they need a little extra help keeping warm. Can you guess what it’s made from? You got it! Animal hair.) The animals and people keep each other safe, warm, and fed, so why stray?
As the day starts, the animals line up for the people to milk them, and then we all go out to roam and graze to our hearts’ content. Far as the eye can see.
At the end of the day, the people ride out on horseback or sometimes by motorcycle to help round us up and call us home again. If we go too far or out of sight, or get in trouble, they’ll come out during the day too. Most of the herd tends to wander back toward the gers toward nightfall anyway, but when you keep finding new grass wonderful patch after wonderful patch, it’s easy to understand how you can suddenly find yourself miles away after dark.
The ones that come out to round us up are usually Boldbaatar and his son Baasanjav. Boldbaatar is the head of the family and their herd — responsible, stoic and a little quiet, and wise. He has eyes like a falcon, and he can spot a straying goat from over a mile off. Baasanjav is a character, and though born mute, he has little trouble communicating his energy and humor.
But it’s his little sister Dulamsuren (see our selfie with her above) who’s become a little bit of a celebrity among the herd. She’s beautiful, and now for the second time has graced the cover of World Vision’s Gift Catalog. And the animals know that this colorful publication from back in the United States is the reason they’re all here.
After losing their previous herd to one of the worst zuds (winter storms) in 2002, Boldbaatar’s family was living in poverty in a nearby city. That’s where World Vision staff member Nasaa found them in 2009. Through her, Dulamsuren was sponsored by a loving and generous family, and from the Gift Catalog we were able to provide Boldbaatar with 20 new lambs to restart his herd.
And that’s exactly what he did. Six years later, here they are!
Dulamsuren is the perfect example of how goats in Mongolia are helpful to people. And I’m so proud of my cousins! Due to her father’s hard work and the success he’s had with his new herd, he can afford to send Dulamsuren to school, where she in turn is working hard toward her big dream of becoming a teacher.
She keeps a “dream book” — a scrapbook filled with certificates, awards, and magazine clippings. If she works as hard at school as she does taking care of these animals, I don’t think there’s anything that can stand in the way of this dream book coming true.
One thing I’ve truly been impressed with is the dedication and humility of this family. Their success is due entirely to their hard work, but they know and remember the spark that ignited their future, and where they could be without it. That kind of wisdom is remarkable and best exemplified by a promise: As their herd continues to grow, they will gift 20 lambs back to World Vision to help another struggling herder get his family back on their feet!
Now that’s helpful.
Despite the slower pace of life, time seems to move faster here and it’s just about time for us to say our goodbyes already. Tomorrow we head to Africa! Make sure you follow our journey: Billy has been posting photos to the Instagram, we’ve recorded a few videos as well, and of course you can find all of my blogs here.
Help a family survive the winter, improve their nutrition, and so much more! Give a goat today.
Be helpful to a child and family in need! Choose a child to sponsor here.
*This post and characters are a work of fiction by Matthew Brennan.