Holy Family parish is located in the Khan-uul district, 40 km from the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. This parish was entrusted to the Salesians in 2007 by late Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, CICM, and is situated in the ger district where poor families live in their Mongolian tents (ger) in winter where it reaches minus 45 degrees.
There is a family who has 2 children. The first child has 3 children but without any permanent work. The second child is still studying in college. The father of the family was paralyzed six months ago. The mother is the one taking care of the father. She is jobless. She usually picks the cow dung in order to warm up the ger.
The house was terribly cold, when I entered. She did not warm the ger yet, because there is a lack of coal. It was minus 15 outside. The husband lay down on the bed, covering himself with 3 layers of blankets. When I looked around there was nothing, but only an empty basket for the coal. So, I asked the lady, how are you going to cook tonight? Is there anything for dinner? We don’t have anything for dinner, we did not eat for whole day, she answered. And she continued, I will go out to look for some wood in order to heat ourselves.
I told the lady, follow me. I will give one basket of flower and buy for you some sacks of coal. How can you survive in this terrible winter without any coal? When we arrived in Holy Family Parish, I took one basket of flour giving her and we continued to purchase the coal, however, the store was empty. I went to food store buying for them 2 heads of lamb.
Then I asked the help from the Don Bosco Day Care center’s manager. She went with me look for the coal. When we found the store. When went directly to the seller, saying we are going to buy coal for the poor family, could you allow us to buy 12 sacks? Due to the fact that, in Mongolia, a family is allowed only to buy six per week. Since, we buy for the poor family, so, they gave us special permission to purchase 12 sacks.
The family was very grateful for the help we offered to them. They promised that will attend the church activities. I told them, “When you pray, God will always bless you and your family members. God has sent me here to help you,” I said.
Fr. Mario Gaspar dos Santos, SDB