I have been having a crash course on Mongolia via Not enough Mud. Very educational and amusing.
Her revelations have left me with a few problems that I hope that she may be able to answer for me. Helping the people of Outer Mongolia has long been a local industry in a charity sense. Every so often we have huge, and I mean huge, bags of beanies ( you know, the hats) delivered to the shop , "for Mongolia". These sacks take at least four people to move and are full to overflowing with small woollen beanies. Apparently a local organisation makes deliveries to Mongolia once or twice a year. These deliveries consist mainly of beanies and toothpaste.
Following on from Mud's blog,
1. They don't need the toothpaste. Their natural diet is possibly the lowest in sugar in the world, and their teeth are the whitest in the world.( Actually this year we were asked not to send toothpaste, they have enough, could we donate toothbrushes? the picture in my mind of vast piles of tubes of toothpaste, carefully being studied by camel and yak herders...)
2. They don't need the beanies, at least not in the quantities I am seeing being delivered. I personally have seen enough beanies for every man woman and child to have at least ten each (and we are just one collection point.) I am sure the Mongolians had ways of keeping warm before the local missionaries decided to hold the annual beanie-a-thon drive. Mud did you see a lot of Mongolians wearing beanies? Particularly small beanies. Most of the beanies are "for the children", i.e. very small.
I have a hypothesis on what the beanies are being used for,
1. As fuel for the fires.
2. Sewn together to make gers.
3. Sewn together to make clothes to sell to tourists.
4. As hats for the yaks
5. As padding in the camel saddles and UAZ seats, or possibly as large landing pads at the bottom of random mountain slopes where the rapidly aging fleet of UAZ's are likely to crash.
Enquiring minds want to know...where are all the beanies going? They must cost a fortune to transport there. I've always had this thought in the back of my mind that they arrive to be immediately dumped at the end of the runway accompanied by Mongolian mutterings along the lines of " Who keeps sending us all this c**p?" Maybe something has been lost in the translation and they are not asking for beanies, they are asking for vodka, or cigarettes, or petrol, or anything but beanies.
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