Welcome to CCA’s international development blog page … the sights and sounds, the people and places as experienced by credit union and co-operative volunteers on the frontline of development.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Sense of Partnership

What a city of contrasts. Modern, new construction in the midst Soviet style blocks and government buildings, punctuated by historical treasures – Gandan Monastery, Winter Palace of Bogd Khan and the Choijin Lam Temple Museum. And everywhere traffic! Being a pedestrian is like playing dodge ball, but with cars. Just crossing an intersection takes nerves of steel for a newcomer as you stand in the middle of traffic, cars whizzing by on both sides, while you wait for an opening to escape to the other side.

Flying in yesterday we could see the sere grasslands, grayish sands and reddish gravels of the Gobi. Approaching the capital, the treeless, undulating ridges of central Mongolia became prominent, and most particularly the large flat-topped and treed mountain – Bogd Khan Uul, as we lost altitude in preparation for landing.

Today is our first meeting with the representatives from the organizations that provide oversight and leadership for the credit unions and cooperatives in Mongolia. These include the Mongolian National Co-operatives Association (MNCA), Mongolian Co-operative Training & Information Center (MCTIC), and Mongolian Confederation of Credit Unions (MOCCU). Add in the CCA and GTZ (German) partners and you have 5. We are relieved that our colleagues graciously use shortened nicknames and I hope to introduce you to Myga, Oyuna Mungu and others in later blogs.

Many challenges face credit unions here, yet the sense of partnership and desire to create synergy between these organizations is strong. Co-operation has helped Mongolia overcome obstacles in her past – starting back to ancient times.

According to the Secret History of the Mongols a woman named Alan-goo once gave her 5 sons a lesson in unity by giving them each an arrow to break, which they did easily. She then bundled the 5 arrows together and instructed the sons to break them – which they could not. “When you are by yourselves like the five arrow shafts…   you can easily be broken by anyone. When you  are together and united, like the bound arrow-shafts, how can anyone easily overcome you.” Eight generations later, Chingis Khan would rise from a clan of one of her sons.

Our hope as coaches is that we may contribute in a small way to enable the credit unions to rise to meet their challenges – continuing along the co-operative path and making a difference in the lives of their members.

Selected hosts provided the coaches with a taste (literally) of legendary Mongolian hospitality during afternoon lunch. When the team caught up with each other later at the hotel in preparation for a late afternoon city walking tour, everyone was smiles – sharing their culinary experiences with borscht, dumplings, hoschuur and the like. I bade them a good few days as my translator Mungu and I are off to Erdenet in the north, by train tonight. My first train trip…   should be interesting...


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