By Norov Tulga; Edited by Katie Hackett
Saikhantuya knows better than to look too closely. As sparks bounce from the end of her father's welding sticks, the 14-year-old sponsored child’s eyes dart around the yard.
Various metals are piled on top of each other – materials to construct a neighbour’s fence, a friend’s window protectors or metal chairs. The sparks that fly as Saikhantuya’s father welds represent an unlikely scene of hope, of a family transformed.
Saikhantuya lives with her parents, an older brother and younger sister.
For Saikhantuya’s family, there have been few opportunities. Her mother dropped out of school in Grade 5 and her father in Grade 2 to herd animals. Eventually, after Saikhantuya’s parents met and started a family, her father, Erdenekhuu, joined a construction crew building houses. As an assistant, the money he earned was very little.
“We didn't have any money to buy new clothes. To eat, we bought just a bag of flour and some meat, nothing else,” says Baigalma, Saihantuya’s mother.
When World Vision started working in the community, they quickly realized the need for families to earn better incomes in order to support children's health, education and nutrition.
A vocational training program was created to teach families felting, cooking, sewing and welding skills. More than 500 people participated and created their own entrepreneurial opportunities after the training.
Help a hardworking family provide for their children. Invest in a small business.
Erdenekhuu, 39, has been welding since completing the World Vision training in December 2012.
“I’ve got a certificate to show [employers] and I am satisfied,” he says during a break. “I used to work in construction, doing whatever work I could find. Now, I bought welding equipment and carry them around where I can find a job.”
He says his family of five is happy that he’s earning an income. His children are in school and his current project is building a fence around the family “ger,” the traditional Mongolian home.
Saikhantuya’s mom Baigalmaa, 40, suffers from heart disease. She stays home to care for the family by cooking, cleaning and sewing clothes, and has taken classes from World Vision in nutrition. She also likes to help Erdenekhuu when she can.
“While he is welding I hold the metal materials for him,” she says. “Thank you very much [sponsors]! I wish all the best for all World Vision!”