Posted By: Allison Shelley on August 17, 2011

Labels: Mongolia , Volunteers

HOPE's work in Mongolia as part of U.S. Pacific Command’s Pacific Angel (PACANGEL) Mongolia has drawn to a close.  The collaboration with the Mongolian Armed Forces, Mongolian Border Forces and local Mongolian health workers with U.S. and Sri Lankan Armed Forces and Project HOPE health care providers was a successful one. 

In total, 5919 patients were seen, almost exactly what was predicted.  In addition to the general, veterinary and pediatric visits, pelvic exams were performed, teeth were pulled, eye glasses were distributed, cataract surgeries were completed and a dermatology clinic was given a floor to roof renovation.  

As the focused days ended, there were several closing ceremonies and VIP visits to remind the participants of the importance of their work. 

U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia Jonathan Addleton dropped in to check on the teams' progress on Tuesday, and was greeted by Project HOPE volunteer Karen Kwok as his tour of the Tsenkermandal clinic was ending.  

Sunday saw an entire day of celebrations.  The regional governor and top MAF brass, including MAF Brigadier Gen. Ontsgoibayar and medical director Col. Davaadorg were on hand to present certificates and thanks to the participants.  

Costumed singers and dancers performed traditional Mongolian music and choreography. 

That evening back at camp, participants were treated to cake and a musical performance by a local youth musician playing a traditional stringed instrument called a morin khuur. Special commemorative mugs and photo books featuring the Mongolian countryside were given to all. 

Reflecting back on the week, Project HOPE volunteer Jim Honl summarized his experience, "To me, the Mongolia trip was good for a variety of reasons.  We were able to provide several hundred pairs of eyeglasses to poor people living in a very remote area.  Even if they had the money to buy the glasses themselves, they would have to somehow travel over one hundred miles to the nearest optician to buy them.  Working with the other Project Hope volunteers was rewarding, too.  They had all been on previous trips and were able to share their knowledge of humanitarian operations." 

But there was no rest for this hard-working team.  Luggage was loaded the night before so that the group could get an early start on Monday.  Then commenced the five hour ride back to the capitol city, Ulaanbaatar, and several flight segments to get the group back to their home bases-- as far flung as Hawaii, Guam and Alaska.  For the Project HOPE team, this meant Texas, South Carolina, Washington D.C., New Mexico and Indonesia.  Most would not arrive home before Wednesday, when the process of battling jetlag could begin.

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