Sunday, July 18, 2010

Zuun Kharaa

Last fall, we posted a little bit about a place to the north and east of here called Zuun Kharaa. Just as a reminder, here is a recap of some of what we posted.

Many families in Zuun Kharaa live in a typical Mongolian ger on a piece of property a couple of hundred feet or so square. Each is fenced as required by law and many families raise farm animals, gardens, children, etc. all on their little piece of property. However, in some parts of that city (a really pleasant little city, by the way), the only access people had to drinking water (notice the past tense used here) was to dig a relatively shallow and open water well by hand, on their little piece of property. Right next to the animals -- and the outhouse. It doesn't take much imagination to picutre the result.

Fortunately, the Church was able to have four deep water wells drilled last fall. Each would provide a common well of fresh water which the residents could come to and get water from  But it wasn't until this spring that the pumps and well houses could be completed and the water made available. Three of the four wells were dedicated and opened two or three weeks ago. Last week, several of us had the privilege of traveling to Zuun Kharaa to witness the dedication of the fourth one.

That dedication had been scheduled twice before, only to be canceled because of heavy rains. We were scheduled to travel up there last Thursday. Wednesday night, we had another down pour.

It was questionable whether or not we should go this time, too, because of all the rain. But the couple in charge of those things (Elder and Sister Lasson) felt that this really needed to be done. So, we left first thing Thursday morning. It was still raining. A lot. Again!

When we arrived, Zuun Kharaa was a mess. We felt like we were in Venice, Italy! Water everywhere! We began to wonder if we could reach the wells at all. But, we had a Toyota Land Cruiser so on we pushed. But in some places we kept checking the floorboards to see if any water was getting into the car!

Each of the wells had been located on the property of one of those ger families who would also manage the water station. In exchange, they would receive free water and perhaps some income from selling the water to others. Now, don't be too concerned. The 'fee' for the water is a staggering 2 Tugriks per liter (1380 Tugriks equals one U.S. dollar and a liter is just over one quart). That means a five gallon container would cost almost 3 cents! But it is enough to pay the electricity, provide for long term maintenance and allow a small stipend for the operator.

Despite some remaining question about continuing with the well opening, the Lasson's pushed ahead. We soon learned there were reasons why it was felt needful to push on. It seems that the well operater for well #4 had not yet opened the well, believing that the opening ceremonies were necessary, first. That was actually not the case. And, we also learned that the recent rains had completely contaminated the already questionable hand dug wells, leaving many with no real source of water.

Above is a picture of one of those wells.

So, we held a well grand opening ! And we had a good old time! We had candy, bottled drinks and even a ribbon cutting! Oh, and fresh, pure drinking water, too! A good little group gathered round for the festivities and we made some new friends that day! There was even a drawing for some water containers and one cart!

We'll post more about this special little town next time.


Bressler Bunch said...

Maybe you could send some of that rain here?

When you say the well was dedicated, are you talking about dedicated like a church is dedicated?

The Fendleys said...

That makes me so sad that it is so difficult for people over there to get something as simple as clean water. What a blessing that must be for them to get those wells. Yet another thing that we take completely for granted.

Jolley Family said...

Dear Brother and Sister Caldwell My name is Teri Jolley. I received a link to your blog via Ryan Margetts (who served in Mongolia a little over a year ago) mom, Wendy. My, Aunt Claudia Nielson is in her ward. My son, Elder Ryan Jolley, has been called to serve in Ulaanbaatar and is currently in the MTC with three other Elders... Elder Wilson, Elder Huff and Elder Reeve. They have been in the MTC since June 9th. I just wanted to say "HI" and tell you both how much I have enjoyed reading your blog (as well as the Lassen's blog) and learning more about the beautiful country and people of Mongolia. We keep praying for these boys and for their visas to come through that they may come to Mongolia at the end of August. Take care! Teri Jolley

REBYRYAN said...

Sounds like it is a good thing you went when you did despite the rain!

SLCDramaGirl said...

Thanks for accompanying us to Zuun Kharaa on that soggy day and experiencing with us its spirit. We appreciate your willingness to pitch in and all you did to make the well ceremony a success! The Lassons

Marcia said...

WOW!!! That's where you really see how the Church Humanitarian Efforts are affecting things worldwide. And the couple in the front on the left was sure cute.