Well of hope for Mongolia
by Roz Pulley, Cairns Sun, Australia
MONGOLIA’S Gobi Desert dwellers and The Beatles may have little in common, but for Cairns humanitarian and radiographer Barry Jiggins they are inextricably linked.
Barry’s passion for bringing warmth to the hospitals and orphanages of Mongolia by collecting thousands of blankets has taken up much of the last decade. His love of the Fab Four goes back even further.
Next week he leaves for the frostbitten steppes of Mongolia to bring his dual passions together – delivering the latest shipment of warm winter woollies and checking on the progress of the John Lennon-Paul McCartney Water Project.
The founder of MongoliAid International Inc will be on hand for the delivery of thousands of blankets donated by Australians, including Sydney charity Wrap With Love, which knits leftover wool into squares, then sews them together to produce wraps to ward off hypothermia among those suffering extreme cold.
“We’ve reached just over 22,000 blankets so far, but I want to get to 30,000, so I’m looking for the last 8000,” Barry said.
“I know there’s still a need. There are parts of the Gobi Desert I haven’t reached. I want to cover the eastern and western ends of the desert with the next shipment.”
Barry says the Blankets 4 Mongolia campaign will then change direction.
“I want to draw a line under the collection phase and start putting aside money to set up a fund to buy blankets from the camel herders themselves.
“That way I can provide the locals with a little bit of an income and at the same time the blankets are right in their own community – and I don’t have to transport them anywhere.”
Barry will also inspect work on MongoliAid’s $130,000 John Lennon-Paul McCartney Water Project at Bayangovi village – with the well already finished and the 2km pipeline due to start.
“It’s actually the John Lennon Well and the Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace,” said Barry, with the pipes named after McCartney’s album of the same name.
“It’s going to be the first town in the Gobi Desert that has piped water. It’s going into the central part of town, so people can just turn on their tap instead of trudging through the cold with their water buckets.
“We’re planning to open it on June 18 next year, the day of Paul’s 70th birthday, but we’re hoping it will be functional well before then,” Barry said.
To help Cairns-based charity MongoliAid International collect a further 8000 blankets for Mongolia,
contact 0448 908 405 or 0418 918 300.