Mongolian people have a rich depository of good traditions and family values, according to Bolormaa Khajidsuren. In an interview with United World, the Mongolian first lady talks about the importance of instilling good morals through parenthood to create a more prosperous nation, and how she works to keep families together through her two foundations
Implementing democracy is perhaps Mongolia’s biggest achievement. Since your husband began his term as president, the country has undergone a profound transformation, not just economically speaking but also in terms of freedoms and civil rights. What are your views on this; how has it been from your side?
My husband together with his likeminded friends started the democratic revolution more than 20 years ago. In the course of this struggle to build a democratic society in the country I have always tried to support my husband – through hardships and challenges, through both good and hard times. And this is a characteristic of any loving wife.
Throughout our history, Mongolian women have stood beside their husbands and shared both joy and pain. Yes, Mongolia has gone through dramatic changes and reforms. Learning lessons and consolidating our success, we have been navigating towards a better future. I strongly believe in the bright future of my country.
The President stated that his motivation and his strength came from his upbringing in a family with eight children. He saw that his mother was very hardworking – clothing and feeding him and his siblings. Is it this strength within the Mongolian people something that he wants to transmit? Looking at your own family I wonder what key values and key teachings that you are transmitting to them.
My husband is the son of a herder’s family. He has seven elder brothers and is the youngest of eight boys. In our immediate family my husband and I have 4 sons of our own and we adopted one girl. The value we try to instill in my children is to live their life with dignity and integrity, and prioritize education. Be ethical and morally upright and to always try to be helpful to others.
Do you feel that something could be done on a national scale in order to instill the Mongolian society with those values and concerns?
Mongolian people have a rich depository of good traditions. Since ancient times every single Mongolian family has tried to instill those values in their children. All parents want their children be educated, and they work very hard for their children so that they can obtain formal education. If every Mongolian citizen is ethical, educated and honest, then the whole of Mongolia will be ethical and honest and will prosper. Therefore, I think, the quality of life, our future depends on what kind of citizens we, as parents, raise.
We would like to speak about Mongolia’s social welfare. Could you share with us the reasons behind the creation of The Bolor Foundation?
Well, the First Ladies around the world, including Mongolia, have strived to conduct activities that could benefit the nation, children, and women. As for The Bolor Foundation, I founded it in 2006, years before my husband was elected the President of the country.
There was a very delicate reason behind its establishment. As I said before I’m a mother of 4 boys. My husband and I really wanted to have a daughter. So we agreed to adopt a girl and I went to an orphanage. The director of the facility took me to a class of little children.
All the children, some 20 plus children stood around and encircled me and were looking at me as if asking for care, asking for love. And I really wanted to embrace them all. Not just one single child but all two dozens of them. Since that day, I had been visiting the orphanage often, and one day I realized that I couldn’t do without those little children, so my husband and I adopted the whole class as our foster children. That is where The Bolor Foundation begins. Seven years have gone by since then; they are a part of our family now.
In 2010 we hired some staff. I found some teachers to work with us to take care of the children. Now my children all live together in one apartment as one big family with the teachers and the staff to help me raise them.
We adopted 24 children from that orphanage. Some of them didn’t have both parents, and some had only either a mother or father. They all had lived hard lives and had been sent to the orphanage. In the past seven years, 11 of the 24 children were reunited with their family. We took 11 children back to their homes to their parents. Reuniting the families and helping them to be able to support themselves. We had to find jobs for parents to support their families.
We got some gers (Mongolian felt-lined tent dwellings) for those families that needed them. Most importantly, I made sure that my children were happy to be back at home. I see the happiness in my children and that makes me and my husband happy.
The mothers and fathers of those 11 children who returned home are also happy. They are happy to see their children raised to be warm-hearted, caring, and aspiring young people. They see that we have invested love and care in their, and now our, children. For a mother, what else can bring more happiness than the happiness of their children?
Have you worked with any other first ladies in Asia for the program? It’s a very interesting foundation so maybe someone has followed your example.
Well I’m sure the first ladies of other countries also have programs and causes that are needed for their people. Their efforts and initiatives may not be entirely the same as mine, but I am sure, they must be causes that do good for their people. In one of his interviews, my husband told the journalist about me. “My wife was born to be a mother of many-many children. This is her fate: to be surrounded by, to be loved by and to be living with the children and I take this as my destiny as well, as a gift from Tengri, from Heaven.
The Bolor Foundation dwells on the one heart, sincerity, care of very good people, the teachers, the nurses and the staff of The Bolor Foundation. These are the people who have been maintaining it, who have been caring for the foundation.
I understand you also have the Hope Foundation as well. I was just wondering perhaps you could give me a little detail on that and the reasons behind your choosing of this kind of foundation?
In March 2010, I founded the Hope Cancer-free Mongolia National Foundation. As you may well be aware, the number of cancer incidences in Mongolia is increasing. The idea behind establishing this foundation is simple – help my country and our health system to fight against cancer.
The foundation closely cooperates with the national center for cancer. In the course between 2010 and 2013, the Hope Cancer-free Mongolia Foundation helped retrain the nurses, medical staff, and doctors of the national cancer center in both national and overseas training courses on diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Palliative care was introduced in Mongolia some 10 years ago, so to help strengthen that system, our Foundation implemented the palliative care segment and also trained palliative care doctors in local and international training courses and established palliative care units.
Mongolians have a culture of taking good care of those who are sick and need care and assistance. We do not abandon our sick people. That culture is now at the heart of the philosophy of the Hope Foundation.
If you could give the people in the USA a message about your country what would that message would be. What do you think are the most important things people should take from our reports when reading them?
Mongolian people are very open people. If people want to know about Mongolians they should come to Mongolia. Welcome to my beautiful country, experience our culture, arts, customs and traditions. Enjoy the beauty of nature and the beauty of the mind of the Mongolian people. My message to the readers of your newspaper would again be a warm invitation to Mongolia. I do see many great opportunities between our nations to work together, so let’s be friends and let’s work together for a better world.