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Choibalsan is a city in the east of Mongolia, 650 km from the capital Ulaanbaatar. Among the 45.000 inhabitants there are around 50 children who have to take care of themselves. In winter they sleep underground, huddled together for warmth around the city’s heating pipes. They don’t go to school and many of them cannot read or write. They collect empty bottles and often resort to stealing to stay alive. They are unable to envisage an alternative lifestyle for themselves. Some are orphans but many have parents who simply don’t take care of them. In some cases, parents send their children out to “earn” money and then beat them if they come home without.
For the vast majority of the inhabitants of Choibalsan, life is hard: unemployment is high and for many, the future is bleak. They need all their energy just to survive and sadly, but perhaps understandably, they don’t pay attention to the problems of the street children. They consider them a nuisance because they are dirty and have a reputation for stealing. As a result, the children are ignored and are left to fend for themselves.
In short, life for these children is very difficult and there is no hope for the future. Or rather, there was no hope for their future. This changed in the autumn of 2006, when Boldsaikhan began to help them.
He literally went underground: removed the children from their holes and has looked after them ever since. At first, all he could offer them was ‘a roof’ in the basement of an apartment building and the promise of regular meals. However, he provided this on the little money that he and his wife were earning. His motivation was, and still is, his Christian belief.
In the spring of 2007 he met Maarten Stoffels, a Dutch physician working as a volunteer in the hospital in Choibalsan. Together they began searching for funds in The Netherlands. This was successful and since the summer of 2007, twenty-five formerly neglected children now live in a ‘proper’ house: