Mongolien: Odonchimeg Puntsag

All people have dreams. So do I. My dream is to help other people through my work to make their dreams come true.“

— Odonchimeg Puntsag

Odonchimeg Puntsag (1961), a labor economist, has worked with different organizations, including the Liberal Women’s Brain Pool (Leos). In 1999 she set up the Information and Education Center, which is principally a mobile library dedicated to bringing news and information to the more remote areas of Mongolia; whole communities are able to access a huge range of materials that were otherwise unavailable to them. The Center also runs training sessions on orientation and self-education, assisting readers in selecting books and themes that are relevant to their own situation.

Odonchimeg has seen vast changes in Mongolia since the decline of communism, not least of which is the growing divide between rich and poor. She feels there are many reasons for the growing poverty, for example that "people too readily accept becoming poor. Becoming poor in terms of livelihood and poor in terms of intellectual capacity are intertwined processes”. The nomadic, isolated lifestyle of Mongolians makes access to news and information difficult, time-consuming and costly. Odonchimeg hit upon the idea of a mobile library to reduce these constraints. She worked the principle to suit the Mongolian geography, life style and mentality, and invented an effective means of delivering a large and well-chosen selection of books to rural households. To promote the libraries and their effective use, workshops are run to help the readers choose subjects relevant to them, and understand the dynamics of the mobile library and book ordering process. The purpose of the libraries is to increase awareness of the current social, political and economic climate in Mongolia, and to assist people in understanding how to adapt and survive in a free market economy and a "democratic" society. Odonchimeg has also helped establish a local home for orphans and street children. She says the orphanage “gives the children the chance to experience a few years of life in a familial context, before they leave at 16 or 17.” The children are taught to plant and harvest vegetables, as well as to prepare and cook them. Sheep are also raised, providing a source of milk, wool and meat. The older children are encouraged to take responsibility for and train the younger ones. “Street children and orphans are a "time bomb"; they are our – adults' – fault and we bear the responsibility to correct the situation,” she says.

Liberal Women’s Brain Pool (Leos)