THAT intrepid Eleanor Gledhill is at it again!
Fuelled up by the impact the first visit to Mongolia four years ago had on her and her husband Martin, she is to make a return visit - this time driving a Ford transit van packed full of items to ease the plight of street orphans.
Eleanor and Martin first hit the headlines in 2007 when they took part in the Mongol rally. They drove 8,720 miles through Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan and Siberia to Mongolia. Two thousand miles of the journey were off road, but they had no 4x4 - just an eleven-year-old Fiat Punto to cross the Gobi desert!
On their arrival in Ulan Bator, they were moved by the conditions they found in Mongolia. Faced with harsh winter conditions of 40 degrees below, the city heats its sewers to prevent the inevitable freeze up. Communities of children and desperate adults take shelter there, living in the sewers.
Eleanor and Martin were impressed by the work of the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation settlement which rescues the children and young people living in the sewers of Ulan Bator - so impressed in fact that since their return Eleanor has organised a series of fund-raisers for the foundation.
For her latest venture she has received a list of items desperately needed by the foundation for the orphans, and is appealing for good quality clothing which she will personally deliver.
In particular Eleanor is appealing for cosy winter boots for children aged between three to 15, as well as, jeans, leggings, pyjamas, hats, gloves and scarves.
She said: “The boots don’t have to be “as good as new” as they are better than bare feet. The foundation has also asked for sports shoes (trainers), slippers and warm winter jackets.
“It is below freezing for six months of the year. That’s the sort of things we would really, really like as well as cosy jumpers, knitted hats and socks.”
For their return visit Eleanor and Martin will set off on July 21 in the Ford minibus bought especially for the four week journey, and which will then be donated to the orphanage.
They will be accompanied on their trip by Alan Hendy from Birmingham, who they met four years ago on the Mongol Rally.
Eleanor admits that trip was “life-changing” after they saw at first hand the harsh living conditions facing the children, and the valuable work carried out by the Christina Noble Foundation.
She said: “It makes you more appreciative of what you have.”
Over the years Eleanor has organised everything from giant cabbage growing competitions to stalls at the Forfar Gala Day, all raising much needed funds for the children of Mongolia.
She has also set up an innovative business on e-bay where she sells plant seeds which made over £2,500 for the foundation last year alone.
Eleanor, Martin and Alan will personally deliver their items to the orphanage and the tented children’s village.
She continued: “We are going to buy things like a generator, construction tools but we are appealing for the shoes and warm clothing for the children.
“When we get there we will be working on a couple of their vehicles which have broken down.
“They can’t get parts for them so Martin and Alan will be fixing up the vehicles when we are there. We will also leave our van which can be used by the orphanage, which has about 150 children.
“There are about 800 really needy children who are also sponsored. The foundation does a programme with the children’s prisons giving vocational training.
“The children who live in the sewers, who haven’t been rescued, have absolutely nothing apart from what they are standing in. This charity takes them to the rehab village, gets them back in to social ways again and gets them properly looked after medically, fed and gets them in to the local school, They place the children with un-married mums and make up a family group and supervises them,
“The work the foundation does is so basic and so necessary. We have very little idea of the hardships these kids have to endure, we just can’t imagine it.”
Anyone with any children’s boots, trainers, slippers and cosy jackets is asked to hand them in to Andrew Begg (trading as David Guild) in West High Street, Forfar (open 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday).
Eleanor asks if shoes and slippers can be kept together as a pair in a carrier bag.
She is also appealing for out-grown children’s jeans, leggings, pyjamas, hats, gloves and scarves which can be handed in to the Forfar Golf Driving Range (open Monday to Thursday, 9.30 am to 8 pm and Friday to Sunday, 9.30 to 5).