April 29, 2005

Q&A and More Photographs

(Long entry with quite a few photos; may take a while to load.)

As promised, answers from Meredith of F.I.R.E to the questions posted by Dear Readers in the Wednesday comments.

With regard to knitting clothes for older kids, teens and adults, Meredith says, “Thank you very much for the thought, but we have enough used clothing for these sizes. We wanted to try and focus on children because the items are smaller and easier to knit and we never have enough children's clothing. Every year we run out. Of course, parents would much rather have clothes for their children than themselves. If you have larger-sized clothing please send it. But if you are making something, please make it child size.”

My thoughts: Originally, we were encouraged by F.I.R.E. to knit for all sizes (although, granted, with special emphasis on children age 3-10) so I have been given quite a few adult-size hats that I will be sending along. However, per Meredith’s new information, they are now focused on children’s clothing.

With regard to sending toys, Meredith says, yes, they take toys that are operable without batteries.

With regard to what else can be done for the homeless children and the orphanages, Meredith says, "We have a page on our website that addresses this directly. Of course, we always need money. But we also accept warm, used clothing for teens and adults and anything for infants, toddlers and children. We take all bedding, including pillows and sleeping bags. You can clean out your family's closet, go to yard sales or the local thrift store and buy cheap, warm clothing and send it on to us. You could start a clothing drive in your school, church, workplace, or community. You could gather donations to help ship the clothing to us.

Here is a complete list of what we like to take:

We need all children’s clothing!
Hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, neck gaiters, socks
Coats, snow suits
Sweaters, sweatshirts
Long sleeve tops
Pants, jeans
Long underwear

Bedding – blankets, sheets, sleeping bags, pillows
Toys – games, stuffed animals, items that are functional without batteries
Sewing Kits
Basic toiletries – non-liquid soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes, combs, hairbrushes (all items need to be new)

Large Items
Sewing machines
Basic farming equipment – shovels, hoes, picks, rakes

Items needed in large quantity
Bolts of fabric
School supplies – paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, art supplies

Medical Supplies
Basic medical supplies - bandages, dressings, syringes, ointment
Lab supplies – slides, pipettes, swabs, vacutainers, etc.
Dental supplies
Antibotics, Betadine, IV solutions, saline solutions
Medicine and vitamins that are good through 10/06
Diapers for children and adults
Crutches, wheelchairs
X-ray film
Rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide
Hearing aids, glasses

Items Not Needed
Short sleeve shirts, skirts, dresses, tank tops, shorts, underwear, swim suits, biking shorts, boxer shorts, Capri pants, glass, liquids, toys that do not function without batteries, damaged or broken items, torn or very dirty clothing, anything that is culturally delicate, might cause offense, or is impractical."

Side note from me: I deduce from F.I.R.E.’s Web site, that they also need volunteers, so if you live in the Flagstaff area, this might be something to consider.

With regard to aid directly to the shelters, Meredith says, “Unfortunately, this is not really possible. Mongolia is a very corrupt country. If you were to send things by mail, there is very little chance that it would actually arrive, and UPS is much too expensive. If you want to send items, it is best to send it to us. We put all of our items in a secure shipping container. This year we will ship a 40-foot container that holds 8 tons and a 20-foot container that can hold 4 tons. We have managed to develop a relationship with an exceptional non-governmental organization (NGO) in Mongolia who sponsors our shipment into the country. The reputation of this NGO in Mongolia allows for us to clear customs without anything being confiscated.

This same corruption also makes it inadvisable to send monetary contributions directly to any of the shelters. Many of these shelters have eliminated the corruption, but some have not. We work with Western organizations that monitor our donations to the shelters so, at the shelters, the clothing is locked in a room accessible only by employees of the Western organization. There are other orphanages and care centers we give to directly, but they are also run by Westerners. An orphanage we have worked with on every trip that is very trustworthy and run by an Australian Hindu nun is Lotus Center.

We not only work with every care center for the street children and orphans, we also seek out the children in the tunnels and stairways and give them assistance also.

The Mongolian people need much more than just clothing. This year we are also trying to find a significant amount of medical supplies to send over. For the first time ever, we will have four medical professionals who will go over to distribute these medical supplies and conduct medical training in hospitals and care centers.

As soon as we can find enough funding for our existing projects, we intend to provide university scholarships for students in need. The NGO (Zorig Foundation) is already doing this. It cost $350 to send a Mongolian to college for 1 year.

We would also like to place English teachers in rural communities.

We would also like to purchase gers (yurts) for families living on the street. A traditional Mongolian ger costs $500.

Unfortunately, we can barely fund the clothing part of our efforts. As soon as we have that squared away, we will move on to other projects."

With regard to whether they will be accepting Dulaan items that are sent after the July 1 deadline, Meredith says, "We will collect your beautiful hand knitted items for as long as you send them!"

Lastly, Meredith says please feel free to contact her with questions, concerns or suggestions.

Thank you everyone for your questions. And, to keep you motivated, more pictures.

Photograph 1: This is a traditional Mongolian ger. Eight people were living in this one room. There can be as many as twelve or more, and there is no running water or toilets.


Photograph 2: This is a family of nine living in one small room.


Photograph 3: This was a family of seven. The mother was sick and in the hospital. The family was broke and afraid the mother would not survive. The father was crippled. He uses a scrap of metal for a cain. The 10-year-old boy, slouched in the corner, supports the family by working outside, all year round, in the black market.


Photograph 4: These are two children who are being raised by a teenaged neighbor.


Photograph 5: Except for a light jacket, this child is completely naked in 20° weather. Meredith says they found a lot of children like this.


Photograph 6: A man using a manhole to leave the tunnel where he lives.


Photograph 7: More and more Mongolians, like this man, make their living by digging through trash dumpsters and selling the glass and plastics they find. Meredith reports that this was the dumpster right outside their apartment door. The week before they arrived in the country a man was found dead in their stairway. He had been killed over the rights to dig through the dumpster. The trash cans have begun to be controlled by the mafia.


Picture 8: A child in an orphanage.


On Monday, I promise more uplifting photos of Mongolians receiving donations from F.I.R.E.

As always, from everyone at F.I.R.E., Cuzzin Tom and me, thank you to everyone who is participating in the project.

Posted by Ryan at April 29, 2005 09:59 AM

Thank you Meredith, for the information, and to you, Ryan. As always. *wanders off to do some thinking*

Posted by: perclexed on April 29, 2005 10:30 AM

Everyone scoot over to today's post at Mason-Dixon Knitting. All the attendees at the Yarn Harlot's reading were given a ball of yarn and asked to knit for the Dulaan Project! Go Harlot!! Go Ryan!! (Ryan, did you know about this?)

Posted by: daisy on April 29, 2005 11:02 AM

Ryan! You are tugging at heart strings here! As soon as I'm back from San Diego, I'm casting on for a sweater! I know just the right one too :)

Posted by: Rebecca on April 29, 2005 11:35 AM

Oh Ryan..... I haven't been keeping up with all of my favorite blogs and I must say (yes, albeit, late), I am really peeved by the person who claims the Dulaan Project is a scam. My parents visit China about three times a year and went to Mongolia about a year ago. The corruption of officials and the poverty in parts of China and Mongolia are just horrible. I cry at the stories they tell me about the homeless and orphaned children. My father's own family from Shangdong are very poor by US standards. When they first started to visit Asia regularly, their intention was to take tours and visit scenic places, enjoying the sites and sounds, do a little shopping.... Now, when they go, my sisters and I make it a point to help my parents pack up books, medical supplies, toiletries and clothing so they can send it off to the local orphanges in the parts of Asia they happen to visit (mostly in parts of N. China, because they try to visit my father's family). It's not much, by any means, but when they come home and show us the photos of the smiling children after they receive these things.... It is a better visual than seeing shots of the Yellow Mountains or the Yangtze River.

To the person who thinks that poverty does not exist in other parts of the world, deserves to put put in that situation for about a year, if they can survive that long.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Thanks Ryan and Meredith for the info. Think I will make a few more hats.... ;-)

Posted by: Rose on April 29, 2005 11:39 AM

2 hats down.

And, it was so cool to read about the Harlot's talk at Lords and Taylor - especially the part where the gift bags all had Dulaan flyers in it with the exhortaion to knit something for this project.

Scam... what scam? (uncharitable thoughts about person(s) who think this is a scam deleted)

Posted by: melissa on April 29, 2005 11:40 AM

Excellent additional helpful information. Will go through closets now. I'm so pleased about Lion Brand's donations to the L&T presentation last night that I am going to go buy more Wool-Ease to use in these projects. Bravo to them!

Posted by: Norma on April 29, 2005 11:49 AM

Just mailed a box of 34 items today! Knit by Flora, Susan and Linda K. and me! Felt great to get this first box sent. Thanks for all the info Ryan--and I was so very pleased to see that the Yarn Harlot's talk at Lord & Taylor was linked to our project by a donation of Lionbrand of kits with specific ties to the Dulaan Project. It's great to get the information from Meredith too--if she needs kids' stuff, that's what I'll definitely concentrate on!
Mary B

Posted by: Mary B on April 29, 2005 12:46 PM

Isn't it just AMAZING that Cuzzin Tom and/or Meredith can get ALL those people to line up for photos, and PRETEND THEY ARE POOR! Good thing we can't be fooled. Maybe I'll send something, just in case it's true.....

Posted by: joan on April 29, 2005 12:55 PM

There is a new girl starting at the store where I work. She knits, too, and is going to give me some stuff to send along with my goodies. The pictures are so sad, it's hard to believe how some people have to live! Must get busy knitting more items!

Posted by: Sheri on April 29, 2005 02:14 PM

Am I the only one thinking that we should knit ALL YEAR and stash these up and then knock FIRE's socks off next year? C'mon. Let's.

Posted by: Rachael on April 30, 2005 01:21 AM

let's knock thier socks off WITH SOCKS!! Colorful,warm socks for kids..we can all knit those!

Posted by: carol on April 30, 2005 06:36 AM

my package just went out.
Back to knitting....
thanks for posting these pictures...
Very Inspiring.
Blessings to you
as Always!

Posted by: greta on April 30, 2005 10:05 AM

Thank you. Am rounding up stuff, pronto.

Posted by: Kristen on April 30, 2005 10:35 PM
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