Street children in Ulaanbaatar
left: Ganbaatar, Suhbat & Tsog-Erdene
A lot of street children come with trains from the countryside to Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator) where they search for a retreat in the city. In socialist times, hot water for heating was designed to be supplied from a central heating system that runs through tunnels beneath the city. Many street children sleep in these tunnels. In winter, a temperature of minus 40 centigrade is not so unusual. The strongest street children take the best places.
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The Problems are mostly by the parents of the street children
In almost all the families of street children the parents are unemployed or only get a small pension. Under these circumstances it can be very difficult to feed the family. Parents can become depressed and start drinking, then, drunk and unhappy, maybe they beat their children. Many parents, fathers or mothers, send their children to the streets to sing or beg for money, so that they can buy drink. Shinetugs (13 Years) and Ganduuren (15 Years) told, that they don't dare to go home, until they have 500 Tögrög (0,33 EUR). With that, her father doesn't beat them. As a last resort children can only flee to the street.
Sometimes, a parent marries again, perhaps the stepfather/stepmother does not want the children, and they beat that child until he, or she, runs away.
Street children form Teams
The street children form a team. Most of the time these teams are composed of three children and one older boy, who take care of the kids. This kind of group gives security and support for the life in the street. Often it could happen that the older boys in the group will force the youngest to steal.
We met this kind of group in Ulaanbaatar at Peace Avenue. We asked Tsog-Erdene (13 Years), Ankhbayar (13 Years) and Ganbaatar (10 Years), as well as Suhbat (26 Years) some questions. During our questions Ganbaatar was feeling my bags, looking for small change.