Making A Positive Difference Through Tourism In Mongolia

Any ideas? Any ideas what the image represents?

This is how our group spent a day recently in Ulaanbaatar – the capital city of Mongolia – at a felting project run by the Buddhist NGO Asral. The group learnt how to clean the wool, process the wool, colour the wool & then how to create by hand these intricate felt designs.

Why Asral NGO?  Asral was founded in 1994 by Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche on the invitation of the Dalai Lama. We work in partnership with Asral NGO supporting their core aim of supporting vulnerable families in Mongolia so that children don’t end up on the streets. Asral’s Made in Mongolia felting project provides training & employment opportunities to vulnerable women allowing them to achieve a sustainable livelihood which means they can support their children. It is one of the projects Asral oversees from their Kunchab Jampaling Buddhist Centre – located in the Bayangol ger district – one of the largest ger districts in Ulaanbaatar.  

And why do we like to arrange this (some might say formal) experience?  In modern tourism throughout the world, orphanage tourism is common – where travellers make a one-off, quick visit to an orphanage or school where they may watch a short performance by the children and then give a small donation. In the words of @responsible_travel:

‘… orphanage tourism does more harm than good for young people. Rather than helping with child protection, rights and education standards, the industry is actually contributing to the separation of families.’

The Childsafe ‘Children are Not Tourist Attractions’ campaign is highlighted by Responsible Travel and recommends that travellers help families by supporting vocational training and community based initiatives, rather than visiting orphanages directly. In the words of Childsafe:

‘If we can redirect people into giving support to organisations that work to keep families thriving and together, then we will have real positive impact, and many happier children!’

So your decisions on holiday can help to make a difference. Be part of a bigger travel philosophy and embrace #responsibletourism.

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