Hi, this is Saraa, Tumko, Amaraa and Zoro from Achilles Mongolia. Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world with 3.2 million people, out of which over 107,000 are disabled.
Our mission of transforming the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connections brings together people from very diverse backgrounds and situations cross cutting through gender, age, ability status, sexual orientation, income and social class.
Help us in advancing this important work, enabling more role models and reaching more of the thousands of disabled people who can once again find hope and possibility through our programs. Every volunteer hour, every dollar helps us work with more and more people in need and keep our operations going. So join us as a guide runner, a volunteer, a donor, or a partner.
Together, we can make a difference. 100% of your donation goes directly towards funding a changing/wash room and program activities such as weekly workouts, providing simple running gear to members who can not afford it, covering registration fees and travel costs of disabled athletes to participate in running events, renting an indoor training facility during the winter months.
Visit us at: www.facebook.com/achillesinternationalmongolia
The community that has been hit the hardest throughout the painful transition of the country from socialism to democracy and from a centrally planned to a free market economy is people with disabilities. Schools for disabled children are still segregated and the hiring of the disabled is not common practice. With extreme traffic congestion, incomplete sidewalks, and inadequate public transportation, it is not easy to navigate through Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital city in the world, even if you are able-bodied. Due to social isolation and lack of disability-compatible public infrastructure, most disabled people in Mongolia have little choice but to stay home. In addition to obesity, illnesses brought by physical inactivity, they suffer from an array of economic, mental and behavioral challenges such as alcoholism, depression, social anxiety, poverty to name a few. The national average monthly income is USD420. Philanthropy is simply not a realistic priority for the majority of the population. Volunteerism however is starting to enter society with the younger generation.
In 2015, Saranchuluun Otgon, an amputee blade runner and a professor of public health and Tumurkhuu Davaakhuu, an amateur runner and a manager founded Achilles Mongolia, a non-profit organization with a mission of transforming the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connections.
The thought of a disabled person in Mongolia imagining themselves traveling abroad and finishing a major world marathon would at first seem impossible… until they meet someone who is no different from them that has managed to do exactly that. That’s when hope that they thought was long lost starts to re-emerge.
In addition to improving their health and physical conditioning, our member athletes regain hope and possibility when they see themselves overcome what they once thought was impossible - for instance finishing a full marathon. Running is only a tool to enable people to see the incredible strength and will power that they still possess. It is the application of that rediscovered confidence and perseverance to all other aspects of life that we work to enable.
Since its founding, Achilles Mongolia has never had the means to have any staffing, access to indoor training facilities or changing rooms (during the 6 month long -20C-40C winters) or an office space and has been carried 100% by volunteers. Any donations received would be saved to cover the team’s marathon trip costs. This year has been especially challenging for us due to the very strict covid19 restrictive measures taken by the Mongolian authorities. The country has had an exemplary record of successfully defending its people from covid19, with a national total of 328 cases (all cases are imported and there have been no domestic cases), 312 recovered and 0 deaths since March 2020, but the economy is paying a hefty price. Many of Achilles Mongolia’s volunteers have lost income and simply can not afford to continue donating their time to us. Charitable giving has decreased significantly, with an outlook to worsen in 2021 due to the devastating impacts that covid19 has had on businesses and the economy.
At Achilles Mongolia, we continue to do our work because it is especially during these times that our community needs our support the most. Running has helped us maintain a good sense of community, connection, and an overall strong level of normality during this pandemic - in the very same way that running has enabled our team to overcome the many different challenges that life tests us with. In the process of preparing for a marathon, our members find community, fall in love with active living and rediscover hope and possibility. That is why we will not miss this year’s nyc marathon. A team of over 100 runners will be running the TCS NYC virtual Marathon in UlaanBaatar, Mongolia to kick start the Achilles Cup.