Through the Lens

Mongolia is a land of contrasts from the bustling streets of Ulaanbaatar where Louis Vuitton and other luxury stores are appearing overnight to the vast plains of the countryside where the traditional nomadic culture still remains strong. Progress has come to the land of Genghis Khan with its blue skies, gers, meat, vodka, wrestlers, horsemen, and camels. However, for many the flourishing mining industry is rapidly increasing the gap between the rich and the poor with many families still struggling to feed hungry mouths and clothe their children in winter.

Photographer Tash McCarroll recently travelled to Mongolia to document the activities of CNCF and help raise awareness of the poverty of children in Ulaanbaatar. She writes,

“When working with NGOs I have a mission to capture, as best I can, the need for the work they are doing and the positive impact of their presence so they can use the images for education, and promotion of their cause and work. Hopefully they will also inspire others to see the difference they are making and jump on board to support. Yet every time I am the one who is educated and my experience with CNCF Mongolia was incredibly fulfilling and inspiring.

I witnessed women, men and children scraping through rubbish at the dump while toxic smoke filled the air in -20 c temperatures. I saw families of five living under stairwells in a space smaller than a bathroom, and sat in homes where the temperature outside seemed warmer.

Amidst the darkness and despair surrounding so many families, CNCF provides much needed hope and support. Children like any others around the world have dreams to become teachers, doctors, policemen - they have dreams of a brighter future.  With CNCF’s support this is becoming a reality. The need for CNCF’s presence in Mongolia was obvious and their impact is widespread.

I spent four days documenting the work of the sponsorship team on one of their regular countryside trips. The days were long, often with 12 hours travelling and working long into the night locating children, checking on their wellbeing, delivering clothes, and being chased by guard dogs. Even on the long dusty drives, the team was always positive and smiling while ensuring every child was met with and checked in.

My fingers, exposed for a second to click the shutter, would sting from the cold air; a reminder that the harsh temperatures of winter were fast approaching and of the reality for so many who would not have warm clothes or appropriate shelter.

Working so closely with the children, I was able to witness the positive impact of CNCF’s programmes and see the dedication of the staff and volunteers committed to making a difference in the lives of others. There is a light in the children’s eyes and big smiles that greet you when you walk through the gate at the Blue Skies Village. Children will come and grab your hand and welcome you unconditionally into their world and you can’t help wanting to stay longer!”

For more on Tash McCarroll’s work visit her website at www.tashmccarroll.com.