Welcome to Tom and Olly's summer adventure! You've probably already heard how wonderful this trip will be, now you can see for yourself!

This epic journey is part inspired by the Mongol Rally, a group of intrepids who 'race' to Mongolia in very small cars for the thrill of the challenge and to raise money for charity.

We are making our journey unique by not joining the rally and using a bigger car. We thought it would be good to support a Mongolian charity so half the money we raise will go to Mercy Corps Mongolia, which is one of the rally charities.

We are also raising money for a different charity, the Masiphumelele Youth Project in Cape Town. This charity was set up by Shake Seigel and his brother so has a personal tie to our medical school. (For anyone who doesn't know Shake he is a legendary member of the GEM staff!)

Please have a look and give what you can:

Our Justgiving page
More project info at: Masiphumelele Youth Project

We will try and use this blog thing to keep you posted on how we get on. But who knows how we'll get on updating it where we're going...

We have currently raised £350 for the Ubuntu Foundation, and by donating the car expect to raise a few thousand pounds for the Kindergarten for cerebral palsy children in Ulaanbaatar. see goodbye susie for more. (6/9/07)

Monday, 3 September 2007

Goodbye Susie!

Mr Enkhbaatar appeared at our guesthouse the next day. Fortunately we were up and sort of awake and we were whisked off with him, his translator and driver to the Children's Development and Protection Foundation office. They we're all very pleased to see us and exlpained that they had been eagerly awaiting our arrival for some days.

By giving them our car, they would sell it at the 'car market' and then use the funds for a project to buy equipment for a kindergarten in central Ulaanbaatar. We asked a few questions about the project and the next we knew we were whizzing off to visit. On the journey there we passed under the only concrete overpass in Mongolia, a very important landmark explained our hosts.

The Kindergarten accomodates about 80 children, about half of which have Cerebral Palsy, Down's syndrome or other development problems. The children were still on holiday but we met some of the staff and were shown around the rather grim soviet era building. It was very bare and the childrens decoration on the walls did not seem to overcome this feeling. Toys and harsh looking walking aids for the cerebral palsy children were stacked in storerooms, and sporadic bids off maintanance were being completed. The place realy felt like it needed some help!
Luckily we soon met 2 women who ran the place and seemed to know what they were doing. One was an american trained Occupational Therapist who spoke english and she explained a bit about how the place ran.
They are constantly battling to get funding and competing with the dozens of other 'charities' in UB for government help and recognition. They hope to upgrade the Kindergarten to a proper Rehabilitation Centre for all children with physical and mental develment problems from the whole city. At present there is no other similar centre available. Apparently a group of American and Dutch physios and OT's had visited a few years ago and trained the staff properly, but now they we short of equipment. They had drawn up a shopping list for Enkhbaatar and all hoped our car would sell for enough to get some way doen the list! They weren't the only ones.

We left the kindergarten and they were taken out for lunch and shown traditional Mongolian hospitality. A big meal, and three very generous measures of Chinggis Gold Vodka later and we were embarassingly presented with some engraved certificates and souvenirs as a thank you gift for the car. And that was not all, these gifts had come from the organisations president, the esteemed Gandi T, member of the Great Meeting of Mongolia and who I had a very brief phone conversation with to thank her for the gifts!

Finally Enkhbaatar was very keen to visit the English pub with his new English friend so took us for what turned out to be a heavy session at Dave's Place (the Mongol Rally end of the road.) Countless beers and huge vodkas later we were destroyed, and he left with a sore head.
Olly got his Beijing train in this state and I worry for his health. I meanwhile made a fool of myself a while longer and retired to bed.

The following day I delivered the car to Enkhbaatar and handed over the keys. The trip was really over, and Susie was gone. I walked to the Aeroflot office and booked my flight home.

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