Boy Follows in His Mother’s Footsteps
with contribution by Xenia Davis, World Vision Mongolia
Jultemjamts, called Jultem by his parents and friends, is 11-years old and lives with his mother and grandparents in the southwest of Mongolia. Nomadic herders, the family fell into poverty after losing most of their animals to a harsh Mongolian winter.
After Jultem’s mother Tungalag Purevjal, 42, learned how to grow and harvest vegetables through World Vision, Jultem also became motivated to follow in her footsteps. This year, from 10 potato seeds Jultem grew 11 kilograms (over 24 pounds) of potatoes. “I learned how to grow potatoes from my mother,” Jultem says proudly.
The troubled past
As the family crowds into their one-room ger, a traditional Mongolian dwelling constructed of felt and wooden beams, Jultem listens as his grandfather retells the family’s troubled past.
“We had almost 300 animals. Two hundred of them were sheep and goats, the rest were camels and cows. It was very difficult when the snow came. It got very cold. The animals froze standing,” relates Purevjal Khoonon, 72. Pregnant with Jultem, his mother Tungalag Purevjal and her parents were forced to abandon their nomadic roots and move to the city after losing most of their animals in a particularly harsh winter. “It was very difficult when we lost our animals. They were our only survival,” shares Tungalag, 42. Unemployed, Tungalag and her family subsisted on Purevjal’s meagre pension of 180,000 tugriks a month, about 130 US dollars.
Potatoes to the rescue
It was when Tungalag became involved in World Vision’s economic greenhouse project and learned how to grow and harvest vegetables that things began to turn around.
Jultem holds up a potato he grew and smiles. Motivated and encouraged by his mother, this year Jultem won first place for his potatoes out of 60 children in a World Vision initiated contest. He also learned how to save money, opening his own bank account.
Jultem shares the secret behind his winning strategy. “The judges picked me because my potatoes weighed the most. First I prepared the land. Then I watered the land. Then I put the potato seeds into the land. I watered every other day, and then they grew.”
A mother’s inspiration
Watching his hard-working mother struggle to make ends meet lit a fire in Jultem. Today, Jultem is content with growing potatoes and studying hard. “I would like to become one of the most educated people in the school,” Jultem smiles.
“Jultem is very hard-working. When he starts something, he always finishes it. Growing vegetables involves labor, commitment and passion. Without these things, it’s impossible,” speaks Purevjal, clearly proud of his beloved grandson.