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Childhood in Ulaanbaatar

Mongolian children are expected to take care of their younger siblings when necessary. Outside the apartment building were we live there is a playground and during the warmer months the square becomes alive with children from the surrounding apartments as they gather to play. We love to watch them enjoying the warm sunshine and the freedom of movement after months of wearing bulky and restrictive clothing in such harsh winter temperatures.

They play many games like N.Z. children. The usual ball games, shooting goals, skipping, hide and seek, hopscotch and even elastics. Many times these children have a younger sibling in tow.

Even in the snow and in minus 20 temperatures we sometimes see a brave group playing for a while in the square. When cooped up inside buildings over the long winter months, I guess even the freezing temperatures don't deter you from wanting to stretch your wings occasionally.

When I was visiting one of World Visions projects, a pre-school and kindergarten programme in the Ger area, an older brother came to pick up his little sister to take her home. I was fascinated with the way he so tenderly made sure she was properly and warmly dressed and wrapped snugly into a home-made 'back pack' for the cold journey to their home.