Doing something nice for the Mongolians


I’ll first admit to you, dear reader, that  I am taking on this project primarily out of personal curiosity and some wistful sense associated with a word which doesn’t seem to exist in English but I suspect does in German or Russia.  The project, as you know, involves driving to Mongolia.  Two weeks from now, I should be in Central Europe and assuming I don’t break an axle or come down with Bubonic plague after getting too close to a friendly marmot, I should arrive in Ulanbaatar by the end of August and fly home to Cleveland, Ohio.

That said, I’d also like to do something nice for the Mongolians. 

From what I can discern from this side of the planet, Mongolia is a beautiful place, more democratic than its neighbors, with a few million people who have struggled since the collapse of the Soviet Union– a trading partner once responsible for 80% of their trade and almost all development.  Moving to a market economy which has less to do with yaks and more to do with urbanization, privatized state enterprises, and burning coal, poses some very real problems.  If that isn’t enough, livestock production remains vitally important and the 2010 winter wiped out 8,000,000 heads of livestock— this in a country of about 3,000,000 people.

So, what’s the deal?   I’ll be donating the 2005 Fiat Panda to The Christine Noble Children’s Fund, a group that does a lot with children in and near Ulaanbaatar, specifically with education, medical, and nutritional support.  With any luck the car makes it to end and retains some value– I’d argue that if it can get to Mongolia, it must have something going for it.

I’m also planning to raise money to donate  to Mercy Corps, an organization focused on sustainable development initiatives in rural areas— when you look at Mongolia on map, except for one or two dots, you’re looking at some of the lowest population density country this side of Greenland.

How can you help me do something nice for the Mongolians?  There are a few ways:

  1. You could click and donate directly to Mercy Corp.  This is a reasonable way to go and requires a credit card, I’m pretty sure if you’re into this sort of thing and live in the United States, you can deduct this from your federal taxes as a charitable contribution.  Note, however, that because I’m using a free secure site for the transaction, there are some transaction costs, I think about 5%, which you can opt to absorb or pass-on with the transaction.
  2. If you’re feeling more adventurous, trust me not to run off your money after returning in September, and want to gamble a bit on the amount, you can pledge on a per mile basis by filling out this form.  If you go this route, I won’t be collecting until the first week of September, and you’ll still have an opportunity to donate directly to the charities via credit card or to me directly by cash or check– I will aggregate this and cover any transaction costs out-of-pocket, so you will know that 100% of your donation was split 50-50 between these two charities.  I don’t know if the IRS will let you deduct this I’d be a third-party conduit,  that said if this is important to you I can figure this out.
Thanks very much!  Even if you aren’t inclined to or in a position to donate, you got this far and I appreciate your consideration and your support!

3 Responses to “Doing something nice for the Mongolians”

  1. 1 Sister #2

    GO JOHN GO! Very proud of you to put your dream of making this adventurous trek into a reality. Excited to hear about the various hurdles you face and the interesting people you encounter.

    Just think, you have no idea now what you are doing with a stick shift, but in a matter of weeks, you will be an expert manual driver– having conquered some of the craziest road conditions!

    Try not to run over any yak or vice versa.

  2. 2 Broadview Heights, OH Cousin

    Wow, John! So cool what you are striving to accomplish nevermind a beautiful experience! I, too, will share with others and pass along your link (love your creative site!). Safe travels and enjoy every moment on your adventure!

  3. 3 LindaB

    Mongolia is a fabulous place. I spent six weeks there four years ago. I taught English in UB and got to see some of the lovely countryside. You’ll be thrilled, I am sure, when you have your first visit to any random family in a ger. Mongolians have an amazing open door policy for anyone who passes by — so take the opportunity, have some airag or vodka and enjoy the hospitality of the most friendly people in the world. And, since you are the sharing type, offer a hand with whatever chore they happen to be doing.
    Good luck with that car making it to UB. When we trekked out in the countryside, we usually had two or three flats a day and break-downs were expected. Maybe you could make some more $$ by videoing the trip and car — and then sell it to Fiat for an ad and donate the money to one of any worthwhile Mongolian causes.

    BTW, I saw your blog b/c my cousin Charlie Delgado has a daughter who works for your dad’s CPA firm? I think that’s the connection.

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