A Friday - 5 January 2008
I went to the VSO offices for a morning meeting which had already been twice postponed, with MTIX, the Mongolian Wheelchair Users Association, ostensibly about design for Independent Living. I took a microbus from Khar Khorin market, near my apartment, to Boemboegoer market in the city centre, (about half an hour) then walked to Seoul Street and caught a taxi for another mile to a place with a shortcut path to VSO's offices at Crystal House Business Centre. (Total 300 + 500 togrogs = 35p) My Building College colleague and translator Ariunaa was waiting in the lobby, and after unlocking the meeting room, I printed my prepared notes on Design for Independent Living fro the internet in the volunteer's room. Disability expert Nickson Kakiri, our new VSO volunteer joined the meeting, and we were then summoned to help bring Chuluundolgor and Avirmed of the MTIX up four flights of stairs to the meeting room.
The meeting focussed as much on the need for a business plan to pursue MTIX's wish for developing an Independent Living Centre in Mongolia as it did on capacity building or expertise skill sharing. Very few wheelchair users, Chuluundolgor suggested, let alone professionals and the public, were aware of the potential for Independent Living for disabled people in Mongolia,and the art and science of designing and adapting buildings for people with various limited physical abilities. We discussed the politcal problems of fundraising and government 'obstructions' and Nickson shared his international experience. We resolved to plan some training for those interested in Design for Independent Living principles. I recommended a Mongolian architect expert from the University MUST, and an architect steering committee member of the nascent Mongolian Architects Association, as well as a Construction Ministry contact.
After this meeting Ariunaa and I returned to the college after a detour to a bank. She explained she helps a friend in the remote Dornod province by collecting and sending his chemotherapy treatment from Ulaanbaatar. After collecting funds and visiting the central pharmacy with a prescription, she rises early to go to a microbus station where a messenger, usually a Dornod 'neighbour' will cheaply convey the valuable syringes to her friend.
Returning to the Construction College on time, our planned meeting, for which I had prepared notes on an Energy Efficient House pilot scheme with World Vision, had been cancelled. I had a brief meeting about my proposal for teacher training at Darkhan Construction College, and the planned subsequent English training was also cancelled, with rumours of a teachers' crisis meeting.