“I lost my parents when I was 7 years old. I didn’t have many relatives on my father’s side so my mother’s parents raised me. We were very poor. From childhood, I have known the hardship and difficulty that is to be orphan and live in poverty. I became anadult, married and had 5 children, yet still my life was poor. expresses 43-year old lady Amandikh with a deep sadness. “I often asked myself ‘Why?’. Yet I could not find an answer. I thought perhaps that I was just an unlucky person. Compared to my upbringing, my children are better off. They are not orphans and they have never known nor felt the same poverty I experienced. But I used to be so afraid and worry about my children a lot… if something happened to me and my husband, I had no idea what would happen to them…” She rests on the old little stool in her sparsely-furnished living room, wiping away tears and waiting for the children to return home from school.

Amandikh’s home is in Ulgii soum, Bayan-Ulgii, the westernmost province in Mongolia. A few years ago she had only a small quantity of rice and animal fat. Her husband went to do cash-in-hand work at the local market but he came often in the evenings so sad, because he could not make any money. For Amandikh, it was the hardest thing to see her husband like that. Sometimes, things become so bad she used to visit the bag leader and Ulgii soum mayor to ask any kind of food help or find any kind of extra work. In front of mayor’s door many people often gather and it never looks like any of them receive happy answers. She came and met with local authorities few times like this, but there was no change and her life continued to be difficult. “Sometimes we were completely out of food,” Amandikh reveals. The only consistent income was from her children’s benefit, a total of a paltry 105,000 tugriks per month, or roughly USD 80. She tried to get some loans from the bank but the bank could not agree to make any loan because she lacked an income. But then came a lucky day… Amandikh had been out visiting all the banks in Ulgii soum trying to get a loan, when her husband came to meet her at the bank and said that some people visited their house and had had many questions. From her husband account she understood that these people were from ADRA Mongolia NGO so she went to their office in Elders Palace to know more. It came to be that her household was selected to benefit from the project.

Amandikh says that the most important thing of being a beneficiary of ADRA is that her family has found an idea, a method to make their own income. Now they have their own field to grow vegetables and have received agricultural and economic training; she has made a root cellar to save seeds and constructed a well organized greenhouse with water sanitation; she has also learnt to cook vegetables and feed her family better food; and she even has a number of chickens that are increasing. All these things were supported from ADRA and organized by the ADRA project team. “Now, I am becoming an experienced farmer and a happy woman, I live with much less worry about my income, food and my life in general”. Before working with ADRA, this type of life was only something Amandikh dreamt of, but now she is living that dream come true…