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Our Community Projects
And how we contribute to the local community
Our Kindergarten Project in Renchinlum

Other projects we support

How we support the local community

How we interact with the local community

Some of our environmental policies

We realize that as a small company, we cannot change Mongolia. But we are trying to contribute in our own little way and both, supporting the local communities in which we operate and local projects are part of our company philosophy. Peter himself is a true believer of the benefits for locals and visitors alike of well run, small scale community tourism.

Our Kindergarten Project

Since 2002 we have been supporting the local kindergarten in Renchinlum (Lum for the locals), in the remote Darchad Valley. Many of our groups visit the area where we provide employment and spend a significant amount of money in the local community. Therefore, we found it fitting to contribute to the community in the Darchad where many of our clients have had a fantastic time.

Over the years we have spent over 15,000 US $ on the kindergarten. Some of this has been in cash donations for specific projects, some in kind for things such as building material but also books, toys and learning aids. Many of our youth groups have also spent time there renovating and repairing the facilities. In 2005, fifty British Air Cadets descended on Lum and gave the kindergarten a total makeover. Even the British Ambassador to Mongolia came for the re-opening. Since then, every year our groups return to the kindergarten to do what is needed. The kindergarten has become a bright and happy place, catering for up to 80 kids up to the age of 7 and employing ten people. It has been recognised by the provincial administration as one of the most outstanding places for children in the province.

In 2007, Blue Bandana provided local ground arrangements for Touchdown Eyeworks, a New Zealand media company, to film part of their Shock Treatment series with our herders in the Darchad valley. The two participating celebrities decided to donate all their prize money to the kindergarten which financed a mobile kindergarten service during the official summer holiday period for the kids of the families too remote to send their children all the way to Lum during normal term time.

We will continue supporting the Kindergarten and both Peter and Sylvia are always looking forward to their next visit to this incredible care facility on the fringes of Mongolia.

Other projects we support

While we concentrate our limited resources on the Lum Kindergarten, we also support other projects, mainly in UB. Many of our groups visit local orphanages and children centres, doing basic repair and renovation work. They also find time to organize activity days with the kids, which given the kids distinct lack of attention is well appreciated by all. Tearful fairways with small Mongolian children hanging of the legs and arms of our clients is a normal occurrence.

In 2008, one of our expedition partner, World Challenge Expeditions from the UK, provided funds for the completion of the kindergarten in Bayanzurkh in northern Khovsgol. During the summer, one of our groups used the funds to complete the interior of the kindergarten, plastering and painting walls as well as fixing the roof. They also then provided chairs, tables and educational materials. This has become an ongoing partnership and other groups have done essential repairs and upgrades in the summers since then.

How we support the local community

Visiting Mongolia for us means to come into close contact with the nomadic countryside population who have been roaming the steppes for centuries. It is very important for us that we employ local people at every destination our customers frequent within Mongolia. We are aiming to leave as much money as possible within the local community, mainly through employing local wranglers, cooks and drivers, but also by buying our supplies locally. Apart from the important economical impact, this also gives our clients the possibility to truly experience traditional Mongolian life: Our wranglers know the local areas like no other and take pride to show their visitors around. Often their gers or the gers of friends and relatives lie along the route, resulting in a visit with many bowls of milk tea.

In the Renchinlum area, we have been working for many years now with Gendengonchik and his extended family. Over the years they have become close friends, inviting us to important family occasions, such as weddings and the Mongolian new year festival. We in turn take care of them when visiting the big city, arranging hospital and social visits for them. In 2005, Gendengonchik visited UB for the first time since the days of his national service in the 1960’s. Apparently, “a lot had changed since then”!

At Terchin Tsagaan Nuur, the Great White Lake, we have been working for years with Hishig and Saagi, two young guys who grew up in the area. They approached us a few years back, fresh out of tourism school in UB to see if we could support their local business at the lake. While all other tour companies turned them down as too inexperienced, we have gained two friends whose enthusiasm to please and to give their visitors a very personal Mongolian experience is second to none. We have never looked back since we started working with them but are looking forward to every visit, when Saagi, a top Mongolian volleyball player will challenge us to a game on the steppe.

How we interact with the local community

We have already mentioned that we strive to spend as much money as possible locally. One idea many visitors have is that everybody can just stop at any ger and receive food and hospitality, possible even spending the night with any random local family. While no Mongolian would ever refuse hospitality, one of the mainstays of their nomadic culture, we believe that this hospitality should not been taken for granted nor abused. Repeated visits by strangers, especially groups can seriously disrupt a family’s routine and many families might struggle with providing adequate food for visitors (even if they would never admit this). We discourage our visitors from randomly visiting gers. However, the visit to a local ger and a meaningful exchange with local families is an important part of our itineraries and the highlight of a trip for many clients. We carefully plan these visits and use friends and families of our wranglers and local contacts. We also rewards the visited families, not necessarily with money as this might be perceived as insulting but in kind. Often one member of the visited families works for us, taking pride in showing our clients his family and home.

We also refuse to take clients to the reindeer herders that have moved from their traditional herding areas in the Northern Taiga to the shores of Lake Khovsgol purely for tourism reasons. We do of course still travel to the reindeer herders of the remote Taiga, a somewhat arduous journey. The reasons behind this is not something explained in brief, but we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions about our interaction with the local population.

Some of our environmental policies

Having a sound environmental policy that satisfies high international standards and making this work in the remote Mongolian countryside are often two very different issues. Instead of promising a lot and delivering very little, we have decided to keep to some basics which are important to us and which we feel are possible to be applied in Mongolia.

By his nature, Peter, being a German, is believer of the concept of avoiding, re-using and recycling of garbage, or at a minimum dump it in the right place. However, in a country where it seems to be common practice to chuck ones rubbish behind the next tree, this isn’t always easy. Whenever possible, we use a high quality Katadyn water filter to provide clients with drinkable water instead of using bottled water. We try to take tins, cans and glass back with us to UB, where many recycling options exist and some people make a living by collecting such materials. There are some items that should not be left behind in Mongolia at all, such as non-rechargeable batteries and we encourage clients to take these back to their home countries where an appropriate disposal system might exist. And lastly, we take all out trash back to an official tip which is not as straightforward as it sounds, given the fact that only the big cities have semi organized dumping facilities. All smaller villages and towns just dump into a pit outside town!

While we have given up to tell our drivers not to fan out in the steppes as some guide books suggests (especially if driver travel without the director present, they seem to have a mind of their own) we have managed to persuade them not to dump oil into the soil or wash their vehicles in countryside streams.

These are just a few of our policies and we are happy to answer any of our clients as well as listen to applicable suggestions.

Choose your type of journey in Mongolia:
Active Adventures
Overland Journeys in Mongolia
Trips to the Gobi Desert
Familiy Hollidays to Mongolia
Winter trips to Mongolia

Blue Bandana Expeditions Co. Ltd. --- Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia --- --- Copyright 2012