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Homeless children in Mongolia are called “Manhole Children,” because they retreat underground when the winter temperatures drop, sometimes as low as -30*C/-20*F. In this climate, children without homes seek warmth from the steam pipes. Today, more than 100 children live in the manholes of Ulaan Bataar, the capital of Mongolia. Underground life is difficult: there is no light, no beds; the environment is dirty and unhygenic; it can be a violent and dangerous place, especially for girls. But these children have no other place to go.
How this project came to be
In 1998, Japan’s NHK TV station aired a program that told the stories of three of the thousands of these Manhole Children. These three children, (ages 14, 14, and 13) had been living underground since they were abandoned by their parents. Ten years later, the show was aired again with a follow-up piece titled “Manhole Children After 10 Years.” The same three were profiled, showing how difficult their lives had been. The first one was unable to maintain consistent employment since he was alcoholic, which resulted in violent behavior. Also an alcoholic, the second one dealt with suicidal tendencies. Without identification or education, the third one made his living collecting trash to support his family of eight. Having no one to help guide them through life’s ups and downs as they grew up resulted in addiction to alcohol, suicidal ideation and low income-producing jobs. Dr. Eiko Takamizawa, Chair of the Mongol Kids’ Home Project says, “ When I was watching this TV show, the following Scripture verse came to my heart in the most vivid way: the Lord said to us, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” (Matt. 25:42-43, NASB). Immediately, I felt the strong urge to take action, for I was convicted that I need to take personal action to do what I can to help.”
<The First Step>
"I was hoping to meet the three people who were on the TV documentary show, but the total population of Mongolia is 3 million. How could I find these three who don’t even possess identification documents? However, through a Mongolian pastor, I was able to locate one of them. This man, now age 34 had fully recovered from his alcoholic addiction. From him, I was able to find out what happened to the two others who were on the TV show. One of them lives in Ger with three children while doing the same work of collecting trash to support his family. Tragically, the other had already passed away."
We would like to share two important messages. First, “You may be thinking that your Father has abandoned you. This is not true. In heaven, there is the true Heavenly Father who loves you and has plans to give a wonderful hope and future in your life.” The second message is this: “You may think no one cares for you from all around the world. This is not true. From Japan, Korea, and all around the world, many people are praying for you.”
My desire was to provide warm and a safe place where the Manhole Children can sleep without worries. When the first TV show was aired in 1998, according to their research, there were approximately 4,000 children living under the manholes. Currently, the number has decreased dramatically.
The main reason was that, as a country, Mongolia has built orphanages with the aid of non-profit organizations from surrounding countries. However, it was impossible to provide care for all 4,000 children. Yet, the number has decreased significantly. Why? Sadly, many children have been sold into human trafficking.
Currently, approximately one hundred children still live under the manholes. We would like to provide a safe place to as many children as possible, as soon as possible.
“Our goal is to build a house for the Manhole Children of Mongolia. This house will provide a safe living environment with a hands-on training program to teach them successful living skills and increase their chance of becoming independent. A local Mongolian church will assist in this training.”
Goal for the Mongolian Kids House Project