When I was a young girl, my father used to tell me that even the Queen of England had to sit on the toilet. It wasn’t meant to teach me about the bodily needs of the Queen, but rather to impress upon me that regardless of outer appearances, we are all much more similar than we are different. This thinking has remained with me and been a guiding principle as a traveler, and has in part been the emphasis for a new YouTube video collection Continue reading
Mongolia is divided into Aimags (Provinces). Early one morning, I went out to the Dragon Bus Depot to catch a bus to Bulgan Aimag, west of the capital Ulaan Baator.
After a six hour bus ride, I arrived at the ger home of Mr. Byambatogtoh. The Byambatogtoh Family is a nomadic herding family that moves four times per year with the weather. The family owns 40 horses, 10 cows, 3 camels and 400 sheep and goats. When I arrived, I was welcomed traditionally with milk tea, sweets, and biscuits. Lunch was a delicious fresh noodle (I watched it being made!) and more tea. After lunch, I accompanied Mr. BYambatogtoh’s son to herd the camels on motorbike! We then rode the camels 14 kilometers to a Buddhist sacred space.
The next day, I traveled to the home of Mr. Otgonbayar. The family was wonderfully welcoming, and I enjoyed getting to know everyone: I spent the most time with the grandparents and children. While attempting to communicate with the sixty-two year old grandmother with a phrasebook, I shared photos on my iPad. I then showed her Photobooth. She LOVED seeing herself and playing with photobooth.
Sadly, after two days in the countryside, I became sick due to a lack of a sanitation system. It was a strong reminder of the importance of continued development work necessary around the globe. Watch the video for the ‘Reinvent the Toilet’ initiative that my good friend Sara is working on with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Currently, universities around the globe are working to develop toilets that can be functional without a water system. That’s Smart People doing Good Work!