By Elise Honningdalsnes
Two years ago, Erdene Enkhsaikhan realized that when Mongolians unite, they can do anything, despite the lack of governmental support.
What initially started off as a Facebook page for people with a special interest for cars have now become a charity group that help less fortunate people in the city of Ulaanbaatar.
“I think every Mongolian has the responsibility to take care of their family and people in need. It’s in our mindset to help each other,” says Erdene, the Owner of Auto Complex Auto Service and founder of the NGO Jets Avenue.
Erdene works at a car repair shop in Ulaanbaatar where he meets many car owners on a daily basis. In 2014, he decided to start a Facebook group called JET’s Avenue (JET’s Өргөн Чөлөө) where they could discuss their interests for wheels.
However, the young Mongolian wanted to do something more and suggested to the other members that they could start doing charity work. The members liked his suggestion and the NGO Jets Avenue became official. The members of the group are mainly young men in their 20s and 30s. They are just doing what they feel is their responsibility as members of the community.
They realized that far too many members of their community were struggling on various levels, without receiving any form of support from the government. In their Facebook group the members started to share stories from the community and suggested people in the community that could benefit from a helping hand. United they decided on a cause and everyone donated some money from their own pockets.
For these community members every day is a struggle and they do not receive any governmental support. Talking about the government’s interest in the Ulaanbaatar residents make Erdene and co-member Dashnyam Dalaisuren distressed.
“The government they don’t do nothing, people are dying and they don’t do sh*t,” says Dashnyam Dalaisuren, who’s been a member of the group since the start in early 2014.
“The government doesn’t want to talk to anyone, they don’t even know we exist,” says Erdene. “There is no point in going to the government yelling at them, they don’t listen to us anyways.”
After being active for about two-and-a-half years, the group has assisted more people than they can count. Not long ago they saved up money to buy a new ger for a family of four. The family was living in inhabitable living conditions and they couldn’t afford a new home. Unable to work due to disabilities, the parents had no way to provide a good home for their children. The group bought a new ger which they filled with new furniture and they also bought food supplies for a month to help the family get up and running.
At the moment, Erdene and his co-members are collecting money for a new cause. Five months ago, a baby girl was born with severe brain damage. The young parents have desperately tried to find treatment for their young one, but the treatment is unavailable in Mongolia and the closest treatment facility is in Russia. The parents cannot afford to go to Russia with their daughter, so the members of Jets Avenue decided to help them out by donating money for the trip and the treatment.
During the past two years, they have collected enough money to contribute in the building of a new kindergarten, where they donated 10,000 brick stones and help with the construction work. They also donate coal on a regular basis in order to help handicapped people in the ger-district stay warm during the winter and they provide help to homeless people.
The group also helps individuals and other groups living in the suburbs. As the group does more work in the society, they have become quite appreciated in the community and more people reach out to them every day for help with their problems. Everyone can donate money as membership in the group is not essential.
“It’s not a big deal for us, everyone should help each other,” says Erdene.
“We’re just helping people, and that makes us happy.”