Thursday, August 28, 2008


Last day in Chingeltei

Today was the last day of my placement in Chingeltei. I arrived in the office at 9am and met Uka and Namjilmaa for a last run through before our presentation started.

Uka had made some final changes to the presentation, including putting in pictures from my visit. The cover slide had me posing with an Eagle. It certainly livened up the presentation, which went quite well.

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The first page of the presentation

I went through the key issues I had found, and suggested five recommendations. Basically the main problems are:

1. Equipment is outdated and needs replacing
2. The hospital buildings are in a very poor state of repair. There are also too many premises. We need a new building to replace these.
3. There is a lack of autonomy within the district. Too much of the control rests outside the district, with the Ministry.

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Me in action

From the feedback I got I think it was generally well-received. Afterwards I got a presentation of a plaque, a cup with my picture on it and a cashmere sweater - the team were concerned that I hadn't brought winter clothing with me, so they thought I needed something warm!

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Mugshot of me

We drove from the presentation to the National Television Centre (their equivalent of Montrose) where we met Alison, the VSO Country Director. We were ushered into the press conference room and kicked off with our press launch.

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The team at the press launch

I outlined the nature and purpose of the visit and described the problems I had encountered and my recommendations for making things better. Afterwards I was approached by a number of the journalists for additional quotes (the national radio station was there as well).

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Discussing our recommendations with a radio journalist

I believe that we go out on the main news this evening, so I will be looking in!

By the time we got to the wedding the bride and groom had arrived. I had been working with the groom's mother over the last few weeks, so they had kindly invited me along. There were about 200 guests in the dining room, many of them in traditional Mongolian costumes.

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View of the top table

The set-up is similar to an Irish wedding, although one thing that they do which we don't is go round every table at the beginning of the meal and get one person at each table to introduce everyone. It breaks the ice and means that everyone had an idea of how others fit in to the event.

Just before we started the main course the compere called down to me and asked me to come up and say a few words. I had nothing prepared, so spoke briefly to the crowd, making sure to thank the wedding party for the invite and wishing them well for the future.

After the meal I gave my gift to the happy couple (some crystal) and went to the VSO for my exit interview. I think the interview went ok - at least they gave me my passport back, so I can now leave the country. I head back home early in the morning after what has been a very enjoyable and rewarding trip for me. I hope that I've managed to leave something positive behind!

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