Expats in UB

By Allyson Seaborn,

Caritas is a global Catholic charity movement that strives for a fairer world. One of their beliefs is that it is completely unacceptable for millions to suffer because of poverty and social injustice. The organisation provides assistance to the poor, the vulnerable and the excluded on behalf of a billion Catholics worldwide.They provide this assistance by helping with humanitarian emergencies and human development, and campaigning against poverty, intolerance and discrimination.
Organisations like this are only successful, however, if the people who work for them are passionate and dedicated. Cyril Jaurena is such a man. He’s a French national who is the Head of the Caritas Czech Republic Mission here in Mongolia. He has been here for two years and is one of those expats who truly is making a difference – for the better.
The Czech Republic branch of Caritas opened an office in Mongolia in 2006 to implement actions in response to the needs of people in both urban and rural areas in the areas of social work, education, livelihoods, health, and disaster prevention.
Upon his arrival in Mongolia 2010, Jaurena helped by managing the Caritas Czech Republic response to the 2009/2010 dzud and has since launchedseveral new humanitarian and development projects. Recently, Jaurena and his team established mobile medical units serving the remote rural areas of western Mongolia (Zavkhan). The team is also building the professional capacities of the local administrations in two provinces in the East (Khentii and Sukhbaatar). They have also worked on mapping the distribution of water in the north Mongolian town of Mörön.
And that’s not the only thing Caritas does. Jaurena tells me, “My organization is trying to do its part for Mongolia. We’re implementing projects that aim to improve health and education. We also have a project that aims to reduce the environmental impact of construction in the cities. Another project, which is starting next month, will support civil society organizations to protect the human rights of prisoners and will build the skills of social workers in the prisons.”
It is one thing to come to this country and take from it – profit and then leave. Every now and then we get remarkable people like Jaurena who live their lives helping those in need, people who are here in Mongolia purely for the sake and welfare of others.


-Describe your first visit to Mongolia
-I began working with Caritas Czech Republic (a non-governmental organization) in Mongolia in the beginning of September 2010. After about one week in UB, I went to Ovorkhangai to meet the governors of the soums that we would be working with for the next year, on a project on animal husbandry and food security. I was completely amazed by the beauty of the countryside and the friendliness of the rural people. Then back here in UB I quickly got tired of the traffic but I enjoyed the nightlife!
-What is the best thing about living in Mongolia?
-The landscapes: the Gobi desert, the mountains and the immense steppes. The lifestyle of the herders is rough, green and poetic. And as the director of a non-profit organization I must say that I also appreciate the quality of the staff working with me. They are efficient and easy to work with.
-How has UB changed since your fist visit?
-I haven’t been away much in the past two years, so I’ve seen the changes coming progressively. Of course, it is the crazy rhythm of the construction sites that is most striking. And also the fact that nobody seems to care about protecting the old buildings that could have given more cachet (prestige and grace) to the city. The cultural traces of the past barely managed to survive communism and now might end up being destroyed in the thirst for profit. It is also increasingly obvious that the gap between the richest and the poorest parts of the population is growing. Hopefully, in future the money from mining activities will be directed towards the whole population and not only benefit a very small group.
-Describe a perfect weekend in Mongolia.
-Some local beers with friends on Friday evening, ending up with singing in a karaoke bar; then a short trip to the countryside with friends on Saturday and Sunday, to enjoy the outdoors and spend the night in a ger or a summer house.
-What’s your advice to UB newcomers?
-Brace yourself for the winter: the cold is hard, but the pollution is far worse.
Enjoy the Mongolian beers and tsuivan.
When crossing the street, do not hesitate to run.
-Is there anything you can’t live without in UB?
-My wife and son
-Have you managed to learn any Mongolian?
-I tried, I really did, but the coordination of my mouth and tongue somehow doesn’t produce satisfying results. At least I managed to make some Mongolian people laugh.
-What’s your favourite UB restaurant/s?
-I really like Luna Blanca and a place called Namaste, which is north of Sukhbaatar Square.
-What’s your favourite pastime or something you like to do to relax?
-When the weather allows it, it is nice to go to the playground with my son, who is 2 years old, so that he can play with other kids. I also enjoy playing basketball as often as I can.
-Picture Ulaanbaatar 20 years from now and tell me what you see.
-Hopefully, Ulaanbaatar will become a place that has clean air and less traffic, with good water sanitation and waste management systems in place, and that makes fair use of the enormous resources of the country, so that everyone has a decent place to live and a good education. But Mongolian people will have to work towards this, because it will not come by itself; it needs a strong effort by civil society.
-What is your favourite Mongolian food?
-When I’m in the countryside, I’m always really happy to find some good tsuivan. I also enjoy khuushuur, especially when it’s just out of the pan. And of course, the Mongolian barbeque is amazing too.
-What music do you listen to when you are stuck in UB traffic?
-In my organization’s car we have lots of Mongolian music, some Russian music, some French music from the 70s and also some Ray Charles and Eric Clapton. When we’re driving in the countryside with the sound of Clapton’s guitar floating over the steppes and with the sun shining above our heads, I think “I love my life!”
-Who inspires you?
-Pericles, a Greek statesman from the 5th century, and Jean Jaurès, a French politician who was against colonization, opposed anti-Semitism and tried to prevent the First World War. Of course, he was shot dead by some crazy nationalist.
-What was the last book you read?
-Collapse, by Jared Diamond
-Do you have a favourite quote or motto to live by?
-Do not accumulate objects; accumulate knowledge and experiences.
-If you could have dinner with 5 people who would they be?
-Fiodor Michailovich Dostoevsky, Georges Brassens (the French singer), Aung San SuuKyi, Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva and Cleopatra. We would need some very good interpreters!

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=659

Posted by on Aug 22 2012. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

+ 5 = 13

Recently Commented

  • Oyun: www.theblueeconomy.org
  • Honheree: It is a sad and awful sight to see so many animals dead from dzuds. These have happened in the past and since 2004 there have...
  • Harvey Dent: Mongolia does not get 476,000 tourists a year. Its gets 476,000 arrivals, most of these are Chinese construction workers....
  • Honheree: It is good but unusual that a Mongolian is so forthright. I am D. Ganbold will be criticised by Mongolians for telling the...
  • Honheree: Be thankful Mongolia is so cheap. In USA lamb in stores costs 69,281 MNT /kg and sirloin which is cheaper cut of beef is...