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2013 The Lotus Children's Centre Repairs and Construction

James Barkway-Jones and Maha Volunteer to build infrastructure at Lotus - Mongolia
James Barkway-Jones and Maha Volunteer to build infrastructure at Lotus - Mongolia

In 2013, CHEF sponsored a trained tradesman, James Barkway Jones, from Berry NSW, to visit the Lotus Children's Centre in Mongolia for two months, to assist with repairs and construction. Whilst there, he undertook a number of projects: repairs to the Lotus School building, paving and pathway repairs, building maintenance and the construction of a gazebo next to the children's playground.

A letter from the 2013 special project volunteer:

" I arrived in Ulaan Baatar on the 4th of July and went to the orphanage on the 7th ,leaving at the end of August Didi outlined the issues, maintenance wise, before heading off to London. There seemed a lot of work to be done! I decided to divide my time between the general maintenance work and organizing then starting the bigger projects such as the school floor and the gazebo.

The first priority was the school. I siliconed the outside and then the inside of the glass pyramid roof. It ultimately requires a major fix, possibly replacing the pyramid glass top with a more conventional and sealable alternative.

I sanded and painted the trim around the outside of the school windows as my first job. Various door locks, barrels and handles were bought at the market. General work in the houses included repairing the drawers and lockers. They don’t seem to be standing up to the punishment they get and in many cases the rail sliders needed to be replaced .

The first major job was to fit the new top on the school floor. The builder from the British School started this and we worked together for a couple days before I finished it. Both the builder and I were concerned about fitting the floor before the roof leak was fixed.A couple of days were spent dismantling the hut at the old Yarmag grounds .The timber from this was used in the new gazebo.

James and Lotus Centre Teenagers

Due to a problem with the plumbers I volunteered to fit the new shower in Will and Angie’s room which was finished before I left.

The last three weeks were spent building the gazebo. I purchased the posts and some of the cladding and used the timber from Yarmag . The original intention was to build a structure six metres square but once the posts were set to this I realized the roof span would be too large to build safely considering the materials available. I adjusted it then to four and a half metres. I have planned to do a mosaic brick path to join it with the playground area .

In the first couple of weeks the earth-movers were on site and Will and I discussed the areas to be levelled for a basketball court, soccer pitch, skate park and garden which I marked out.

I did little painting during my time there but Ariana took on the job of repainting the dining room which came up well. Many times I was happy to let one or two of the children help for a while, until they got bored .The gazebo seemed to be a magnet at various stages and there were a couple of incidents. Generally I was happy to have the children around and when it got too hectic I stopped work to look after them!

I loved my time at Lotus and would happily come back on a regular basis. I’m planning on funding my own way next year if possible and would love to hear of any summer projects. As I left I had earmarked the establishment of the playground area next to the gazebo as to do next . Thanks for the opportunity CHEF gave me this year.

James Barkway-Jones"

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