Vedad Begic

After touring the Mongolian west country side for several days, I have gained a new respect and perspective for the nomadic life style. Our schedule has been reversed as we were originally supposed to work in the hospital during the first week and tour the country after. In my opinion this change has worked out to our advantage as we will be able to better understand the challenges patients and families face once they have to leave the country side and adjust to the unfamiliarity of a clinical setting. The native Mongolian lifestyle is that of living off the land very far away from the nearest village. I have only seen it in movies and read about in books and magazines but to actually experience this lifestyle as our group has is really unique. Mongolians are resilient and capable people who are incredibly welcoming to strangers. Out group has visited multiple families living in Gers and in each case we have been welcomed with utmost hospitality. In one case we were supposed to sleep in tents and as the temperature plummeted to freezing overnight but a family we just met at the border of a national park offered us their Ger to sleep in while they moved to their extended family’s Ger. As if giving their home away to us for the night was not enough, they also cooked dinner for us as well as lunch for the next day. I do have to add that cooking dinner in a Ger where all food is harvested from the surrounding land and resources is a lot of work. For example, a fire is made early in the morning with dried cow dung, meat is harvested from herd of livestock, water is fetched from a nearby stream or lake and boiled, and a nearest grocery store is about 5-7 hr of a drive away. Yet they accommodated us without making us feel even slightly unwelcome. One of the other families we visited has continued the Kazakh tradition of hunting with a trained eagle which they have captured in the wild. As we approached the “eagle family home as we called them”, we noticed two wolf cubs tied off and I thought that I surely must be mistaken but I wasn’t. Not only has our group never seen a wild wolf being raised among humans but we also had the pleasure and fear of meeting the young wolfs as the owner decided to let them off their leashes so they can greet us as they have. The wolfs behaved like dogs and sniffed our legs and jumped on Dr. Mobeen

img_1940img_1949Rathore who was trying to take a selfie with the wolf cub jumping on his leg. And if that is not exciting enough, most of us got to hold a formally wild and now fully trained fox hunting eagle. The nature side is beyond Uzesgelentei (beautiful in Mongolian-my first word learned). Life in the Mongolian country is unimaginably difficult from my perspective and yet children and adults went about their daily chores as if they did not lack anything. Its off to the hospital tomorrow and I am ready to see the medical side of the journey.

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