This four year old girl (pictured with Temujin, a local guide) was found abandoned at the tip with her brother. ‘I found myself cycling across Mongolia to help children like these,’ explains Amy Jolie, part of the recent Noble Challenge team that raised nearly $80,000.
‘The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF) does a lot more than I knew about. It runs health and education programs throughout Mongolia and Vietnam. The Mongolian initiative assists over 1,200 kids.
‘Between us 24 Challengers we raised close to $80,000! We had varying levels of fitness and capabilities. Four of the twelve staff rode with us to show us the way and chat to locals on our behalf.
‘It was a time where you get to know the people in that moment. It wasn’t about our lives, husbands, wives, kids or work; it was about making it up and over the next hill whilst keeping your balance, ignoring your blisters and your aching muscles. We chatted and laughed our way through it. The vastness of this place was unending. I hadn’t expected trees, but there were forests. The landscape was spectacular- so beautiful, so large and devoid of man-made structures. It is ‘the land of no fences’ and even the houses (‘Gers’) are mobile. Over summer they are found on plains and during winter nestling in the hills avoiding the winds and snow. It would be awesome, apart from the -40C they experience in winter!
‘We rode bikes and horses. We walked, fell, tripped and hobbled our way over almost 500kms and still managed to play poker at night. The trip was exhilarating. We finished the last part on horseback, exiting the national park then were taken by bus to accommodation for a comfy night with electricity and running water for the first time in days.
‘The next morning we were driven to the CNCF’s Blue Skies Ger Village where we were made warmly welcome by 52 orphans. These kids have been through the traumas of your worst nightmares but they were focused and accomplished.
‘Mongolian winters can be deadly for the homeless so this village is a welcome refuge. On site there is a full time Doctor and psychologist. A team of people work in the kitchen preparing two meals a day. The school-age kids attend public school and after hours there is a music and art teacher and a taekwondo instructor. Some of the older kids even do hip-hop lessons in town.
‘The day at the Ger Village was emotionally huge on top of us being physically exhausted. We cried our way through the kids’ performances, they didn’t understand our tears of joy.
‘As a surprise the staff had purchased ten bicycles to be shared by the 52 kids. The bikes were laid out while the kids were occupied with the last act of their performance. You should have seen the look on their faces. I felt honoured to be part of this life changing experience.’