From Shenzhen to Mongolia: Life in Abundance
Lusi, a Chinese teacher by trade, is a passionate member of her indie band VIBE, based in Shenzhen. She commissioned Barefoot Love to design an album cover for her band’s first album release.
At the same time, two friends of Barefoot Love, Gary and Nancy, were preparing to go to Mongolia to volunteer at Flourishing Future Mongolia, an organization serving impoverished families in Ulaanbaatar, bringing with them Barefoot Love profits from Luci’s album cover.
Three months later, Barefoot Love learned that the donation was given to a little girl, who had had a most tumultuous childhood. Facing recent upheaval in her family, with the arrest of her abusive stepfather and the loss of their family’s sole breadwinner, she faced seemingly uphill financial mountains that no child should carry.. She had no money for two school textbooks so her teacher told her she might as well drop out. She also could not attend a field trip that everyone else in her class but going to. Her birthday was coming up and she was secretly wishing her mom could buy her a cake, but her family didn’t even have enough money for food.
Just by saying yes to designing an album cover, Barefoot Love was able to make this little girl’s birthday a little happier and keep her in school.
Here are some thoughts from their service trip in Mongolia:
“Most people in the capital city live in huts called gers, multiple families live in these cramped spaces, sleeping on the floor, and burning coal for warmth. People try to display to others that they do not live in gers, the ghettos of Ulaan Baatar. Everyone dresses very nicely and travel into the city to find a job. They deny they live in the ghettos in the ger district because they know you get looked down upon once people know. Everyone’s dream is to move up or get out of poverty. However, a lot of the times, connections are hard to make for ghetto-dwellers. There are no jobs and wages are very low that it’s hard to get out of the cycle of poverty.”
“We’re living in this day and age where there is electricity and washrooms; these things are common. In Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, 70% of the population have no running water, no toilets. People still go to the water hole every few days to get water. They have some electricity, but they still rely on burning raw coal, which makes the country one of the most polluted place on earth. Investment isn’t encouraged, tourists are going only to Inner Mongolia. People there just survive. They can mine coal, but that is such harsh work, and there are so many tragic stories even from the workers we worked with, where their family members died in mines. There is no social safety net.”
“I remember being very conscious about where we ate, and things like how the table was dirty and how we didn’t want to put our spoons on the table. Our bowls were unclean, and we didn’t want to sit on the ground. The Mongolian volunteers and staff could tell and they were trying to take care of me. The Hong Kong team was supposed to be there to serve, but it felt like they were serving us.”