Bayasgalant Kinderhilfe Mongolei was founded in September 2009. But before this date we were running the orphanage Asral-And and had founded this previous charity in 2003. So our history actually dates back to 2003.
The small house which forms part of the day care centre was renovated by us in this year. A new entrance has been built to keep the cold air out and we have also installed a new shower and washing room, which makes it easier to keep the children clean.
The new playground made the children very happy and it’s by far now their favourite spot. It was donated by the Swiss music band Myron.
In Switzerland it was no longer possible for the board to do all the work on a voluntary basis, therefore 20% office work is now paid.
On 5th September 2009, Asral-And invited members to the extra-ordinary membership assembly in the St. Gervais Restaurant in Biel. Around 30 members gathered together to discuss and decide the future of the charity and the name of the charity and its charter were changed. So "Asral-And, mongolische Suppenküche" changed to "Bayasgalant, Kinderhilfe Mongolei" with the unanimous approval of the members. The organization still kept its original goals. It was more an administration change than an ideological one. So the new name was the new start and final break with the quarrels with the ex-project leader. We now look optimistically into the future.
At the same time, the 4th September was the opening date of the day care centre in Ulaanbaatar. From that date on, 50 children aged 6-13 years old, from some of the poorest families in the area, have been supported by the charity (see projects/day care).
Asral-And Switzerland was supported by the Swiss Consul and a Mongolian lawyer and twice won its case in court, but unfortunately lost the third and last time in the Supreme Court. On the 6th May 2008 two shocked board members listened to the judge’s decision that the house goes to the ex-project leader. We suspect that corruption played a role.
The following day he kicked the children out of the orphanage. We were absolutely distraught but couldn't do anything to change it. At least the judge decided that the ex-project leader had to pay the money back which we had paid for the house. However, the ex-project leader refused, and we had to go back to the court three more times. During this time we were not allowed to get in contact with the children or their parents. It was a terribly emotional time. So while we were put on hold with our own project, we supported another orphanage which was in financial troubles. Also we registered the new charity "Huchdiin Bayasgalant" Mongolian for "happy children".
By the end of the year we received permission to work as a charity once more and so then we could search for "our" children again. Our Mongolian employees found 35 of them in the different districts of Ulan Bator and were able to give them their support (see home visit). The ex-project leader used every possible opportunity to make libellous and slanderous accusations against us, so it was a marathon struggle working through the Mongolian bureaucracy.
Our Mongolian staff and all board members started the New Year highly motivated. Lots of plans were made to improve the children's well-being. More people were employed to ensure better care and support of the children (aged between 3 - 16 years).
In the summer board member Martina Zürcher travelled to Mongolia with the plan to stay for four months to help and to supervise projects. Unfortunately, she realized that the project leader, who did excellent work until the house purchase, was neglecting his duties. After endless and fruitless discussions the Swiss board had to make the sad decision to dismiss him. He didn't accept his dismissal, he claimed the house and the name of Asral-And as his and libelled the Swiss board members. It was a sad time for everybody. Despite the documented proof that the house belongs to Asral-And Switzerland he went to court to claim it. During that time we were looking for a new project leader and luckily found one.
The rental of the school rooms ended at short notice in March 2006 and we were forced to leave. Because street children are not the most wanted tenants, we decided to buy our own house. By the end of April we found a 3-storey brick house with some land for the children to play on. To buy a house in Mongolia is a tortuous journey through bureaucracy, so one board member took care of all paperwork together with the help of our project leader, the Swiss Consul and a lawyer to ensure that the house belonged to Asral-And Switzerland.
A Buddhist monk declared the 22nd May as the blessed date to move. So the children and employees happily moved from the school rooms to the new house. A great day for Asral-And! One of our staff had drawn comic-figures on the walls, stuffed toys were on the beds awaiting the children and the bathrooms were newly renovated. Now there was enough room to play, for school lessons and for the adults to sew the felt-slippers.
The orphanage was cold, so
Asral-And paid for new windows and a better heating system. This was a big improvement. The children and the staff could now stay in a warm place. Some parents produced felt slippers and they were sold in Switzerland. So, indirectly, the parents helped finance the renovation work and this also provided them with work and a salary for themselves.
The photographer Andreas Hutter visited Asral-And in Ulan Bator and used some photos of the children during his acclaimed photographic presentation "Auf den Spuren der Nomaden" which was on tour throughout Switzerland. This was our big chance to present Asral-And and sell the felt slippers to a big audience. We accompanied Andreas Hutter on this tour and thanks to him Asral-And was soon well known in the German part of Switzerland.
As soon as Asral-And was founded the board members were busy raising money and by January 2004 the soup kitchen opened its doors for around 50 children. This was a place where they got fed and could play. It later evolved into a day care centre.
In June we moved to a school, where we were able to rent three big rooms. Thanks to the donation of beds and mattresses from the Swiss travel agency Globotrek, the children now had the opportunity to stay 24hours. So in December 2004 our day care centre changed into an orphanage! Most of the children did have parents but they were so poor they were unable to look after them properly and many of these families were also homeless. During that time around 30 children lived permanently in the orphanage and about another 20 attended during the day.
After travelling in Mongolia a group of four people who are now board members of the charity, came home with strong impressions of a big country with overwhelming scenery and warm people but also the haunting memories of the lives of street children in Ulaanbaatar. Back in Switzerland these four people decided to found a charity to improve the lives of the street children. On 4th October 2003 the charity Asral-And, Mongolian for "friend of the people in need" was founded in Nidau. Meanwhile our former project leader in Ulaanbaatar did all the necessary paperwork and was looking for a room from which to start the project.