Playgrounds for Mongolian kids, now “Off the Heap”

Rotarians Jack and Jill Reddin (Murray Bridge) were invited by their son Troy in August 2022 to join him on a tour of Mongolia where he had been working for the last 15 years, designing the underground part of the world’s biggest copper/gold deposit. Part of that tour was being shown over the Veloo Foundation’s kinder/childminding centre on the outskirts of the capital Ulaanbaatar, Cheval Veloo also working in the same mine.

The idea of the facility, totally funded by the Veloos and their fundraising, stemmed from Julie Veloo when she saw lots of very young children scavenging with their parents on the massive rubbish dump (known locally as “the Heap”) for food, fuel and maybe something to sell. These scavengers are a sub population in Mongolia who are dirt poor. And to put their kids’ situation in some perspective, winter in Mongolia lasts 6 months where the day temperatures never rise above zero.

It became apparent during our time at the Foundation that the 500 plus kids (there are none left on “the heap”) had one swing and 4 chairs bolted to a pallet as their only playground. We asked, “would you like a playground Julie”, to which she responded, “I’ll take 6!!!!”

On our return to Oz our two Rotary Clubs (Mobilong – Jill and Murray Bridge – Jack) supported us sending the 6 playgrounds, as did the RORP group within Rotary who are responsible for “harvesting” playgrounds in SA and storing them before recycling to overseas countries. When we put a call out through the local media for extra materials the Veloo Foundation could use besides the playgrounds we were gobsmacked at the response. Books, blankets, lockers, blankets, arts and crafts, blankets, carpets to name just a fraction, all these  will now be packed in between the playground equipment once loaded into a container.

The entire cost (of container and its transportation) is likely to be around $15,000AUD all of which has come from Rotary Clubs and private contributions, and all the contents in the container have been garnisheed by Rotary and by local people and businesses. They did it for Rotary and the kids now “off the heap”.

Doncha just love being part of Rotary.