MONGOLIA: Brother has long history of service
Brother Krzysztof Gniazdowski has served in Mongolia since 2007, supporting poor children and their families
(MissionNewswire) Brother Krzysztof Gniazdowski, a Polish Salesian missionary, has served in Mongolia since 2007 and has spent most of his 25 years of consecrated life in the East Asian country, according to an article in the UCAnews (Union of Catholic Asian News). Today, Bro. Gniazdowski oversees the Salesian mission in Darkhan, Mongolia’s third largest city, where a Salesian vocational school was established in 2005. The school serves 300 students.
Through the years, Bro. Gniazdowski worked in a number of Salesian organizations in Mongolia. He first worked at the Don Bosco Technical School in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The school offers vocational courses in auto mechanics, welding, plumbing, design and sewing, office administration, and construction. In close to 20 years, the school has graduated more than 1,000 students, mostly poor youth who had dropped out of school previously, according to the article. He also served at a Salesian-run orphanage for street children in the capital that has been a home for hundreds of poor, abandoned children since 2003.
The school offers courses for students in computer skills, writing and formatting documents, processing video files, drawing and handicrafts, and foreign languages to help them later when finding employment abroad. There is also a library for the local community which serves as encouragement for reading.
“It’s often the lack of income which causes families to break up. Children suffer the most because they remain on the streets where they steal and are victimized and exploited,” said Bro. Gniazdowski in an article with ANS.
Most recently, thanks to Pope Francis’ celebrated environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, Bro. Gniazdowski has been involved in agricultural and ecological projects. He runs a small farm and nursery near the Salesian center in Darkhan, according to the UCAnews article
“During the vacation season and early spring after school, we take students to a farm. There they learn how to learn how to till the soil, sow, plant and care for vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, lettuce, pumpkins, watermelon, cucumbers, squash, and broccoli,” he explained in the article.
Together with students, Bro. Gniazdowski plants various kinds of Mongolian natives, shrubs, trees and flowers. He noted that many youth have enjoyed learning how to farm and see their hard work pay off during the harvest. The crops from the farm are sold, and the money goes to a special fund set up for children and youth for scholarships or school admission fees. On the farm, students also learn about protecting their environment. They segregate waste and sew shopping bags from fabrics for use instead of plastic bags and packages.
Close to 28 percent of the population in Mongolia is living at or below the poverty line with a significant jump to 35 percent for those living in rural areas. Herders in the countryside struggle to survive as their traditional livelihood dissolves, and there are few job opportunities for young generations.
According to the World Bank, the poverty rate jumped to nearly 60 percent after 1990, which was directly linked to the country’s transition to a market economy after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Mongolia’s centrally planned economy. Today, in part due to Mongolia’s vast mineral resources and mining, the country’s economy is rebounding and the poverty rate is in decline, having decreased from 38.7 percent in 2010 to where it stands today.
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Union of Catholic Asian News – Polish Salesian on a mission of joy and love in Mongolia
Salesian Missions – Mongolia
World Bank – Mongolia