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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Uphill climbing

Friday 6:00 a.m. - I am sitting at my computer feeling the burden of my coaching role. The credit union faces major challenges as a result of the impact of the financial crisis on its members. Can I deliver enough to make a difference? A number of practical suggestions to improve efficiency, effectiveness and accessibility by members will be put on the table. Several courses of action will be outlined to address the major challenge - most of which will be under someone else’s control. I am hopeful, yet pragmatic - it will be an uphill battle.

The day unfolds quickly as the report is finalized - punctuated by a conversation with an agronomist member at the credit union who has come in for a $50 loan for personal needs. He stops by to chat because he saw the TV interview and he wants me to understand how important the credit union is for him and the subsistence farmers and herders he knows. The knot in my stomach tightens.

The scene quickly changes in mid afternoon - much like the weather here, and my interpreter, the CEO and a member who has driven up from Ulaanbaatar (UB) to open her ger camp for us are now traveling through the snow on a trail across the steppe to a camp nestled in the hills. The car takes us farther than expected - the tires being completely bald and we then walk the rest of the way to a herder’s ger for a short visit and the traditional hospitality - airag. Yes, it is always fermented.

After our visit we hike up to a steep mountain ridge to visit a sacred tree. It is difficult enough in my runners and the CEO is in high heels and suffering from a bronchial infection. She has come to pray for her credit union.

Soon we are at the ger camp and a meal of buuz - meat filled dumplings, is being prepared as we sip milk tea. I am about to become welcomed into the heart of Mongolia. A jug of homemade vodka, steeped in an age old concoction of nettle and other herbs appears, along with a silver drinking bowl - a family heirloom. The bowl is filled by our host and words of honor and esteem - borne of an ancient etiquette are shared. We drink. It is my turn to respond and I find that the words flow without hesitation, heartfelt and sincere. We drink. And we continue, caught up in the moment.

My hosts then begin to sing, one at a time - songs of nature and of mother, the melody rising like wind words...   and I realize my stomach is no longer tight. When it is my turn to sing there is no doubt...   Amazing Grace. We smile and talk as if time has stood still.

Like waking from a dream it is time to dash back to the city for our board meeting before catching the train back to the capital, UB. The meeting goes well and there is unity and a firm resolve to press forward.

The air seems more invigorating as we stride towards the train, yet I know winter is coming and can’t help but wonder what it will bring to Erdenet – which the CEO called `her beautiful city`.

(The Itinerant Coach)

1 comment:

  1. Moments like these are the ones that bring the most benefit.... to all ....