But surely you are just going on holiday, aren’t you?
Well, not quite.
Driving the Transfagarasan Highway, experiencing Iran and admiring the sheer beauty of Kyrgyzstan are all personal choices due to our thirst for learning about other cultures. There is no denying that the rally could be considered as a leisure activity. Although I am not sure if everyone would classify driving 500 miles a day, spending endless hours at border crossings and travelling through the hottest and coldest places on Earth as leisure.
However, there is another side of this journey, equally important and perhaps often forgotten. Our vehicle and all the extra money raised will be donated to Go Help. Since it was founded in 2008, Go Help has raised well over £475000 for the local communities in Mongolia. This is how.
The Ambulance Project
Through the Mongolia Charity Rally, Go Help has procured 30 ambulances to hospitals, clinics and NGOs working in Mongolia.
Since 2012, Go Help offers a leasing arrangement that allows for better monitoring and maintenance. While the leasing of the ambulances bears no cost for the lessee it ensures appropriate usage of the ambulances we ralliers donate.
Throughout these years nearly 10000 patients have been helped in 2500 call-outs, including 100 pregnancy/new born visits. (Data from September 2013)
Go Help’s next goal is to further expand the scope of the ambulance project and strengthen the cooperation between the charity and the hospitals involved in the project.
Modernization and extreme urbanization are threatening the lifestyle of Mongolia. After a series of very sever winters, with temperatures as low as -40C, many traditionally nomadic families have found themselves forced to move into urban areas to find other work. Consequently the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, has seen significant urban sprawl and poverty on an enormous scale and increase on pollution. This will put further pressure on an already weak health system, and projects like Go Help’s Ambulance Project will be needed more than ever.
The Book House
This urbanization has other consequences. Many children do not have the relevant documentation required to enrol in state run schools, many of the existing schools are not able to provide capacity to take in new children and thus many children and teenagers cannot access formal education. Go Help’s Book House Project is providing a crucial point of access to non-formal education and provides learning materials, learning activities and a safe environment for all children as well as provides a focal point for the community.
The Book House was opened in a deprived area of the Nalaikh district on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. This project aims to increase the reading, writing, listening and speaking skills of the local children but also provides for mothers and retired people to use for reading and socialising.
In 2013, the Book House was visited by a total of 2,499 children.
In 2014 the number of visitors increased by 31%
The original Book House is getting old, with a heating system that would be very costly to replace, and insulation is becoming a problem. Most of the funds raised by this year’s Mongolia Charity Rally will go towards funding a new, bigger and better Book House to increase visitor flow, give the kids a place to study, learn and play, and help the community as much as possible.
Mobile Library: designed to meet the education needs of people living in rural areas. And it is using a bus donated by our good friends from Belgium, Desert Lions.
Scholarship Programme: aimed at students in Ulaanbaatar from lower economic background who struggle with the increasing tuition fee at universities.
If we wanted a holiday we would have gone back to Koh Tao to complete our scuba diving training with Pura Vida.
If we wanted a rally adventure we would have signed up to the Mongol Rally from The Adventurists using a £150 car.
But we genuinelly want to make a difference and bring a useful vehicle to Go Help so that they can either use it as an ambulance or sell it to fund the Book House project.
PS: Driving a car for 10000 miles is not the most eco-friendly way of travelling and we hope we will make up for it once the rally is over by using other means when possible to get around the world. Having said that, we will try to reduce our carbon footprint with smaller gestures, like using water purifier instead of buying plastic bottles. If you think of other things we could do, please get in touch.