Why are we crowdfunding?
For each person in the photo below. This is not just a random selection of photos put together. Each person or family represented here is someone we provide long-term support to through the trips we run in Mongolia. And each person below has been impacted by Covid-19.
We’re more than just a standard tour company focusing on profit. We're a registered social travel enterprise and look to make sure we work responsibly within tourism and that our work benefits the local people and communities of Mongolia as much as it benefits our guests and us as a business. We focus on creating local community partnerships that offer long-term support to local people, families and Mongolian projects - encouraging their own sense of enterprise.
The money we are raising is not to cover wages. It is not for covering our running or operating costs. It is not to pay the bills. All that we have done or are doing through our own savings and overdrafts (we don't qualify for loans or grants). The fundraising money is to provide an element of support during these challenging times.
We’re proud of our commitment to making a positive difference in Mongolia. That's why we invite our guests to be part of a bigger travel philosophy. We support a wide spectrum of people on purpose – whether they are herders, musicians, teachers, philanthropists or Kazakh eagle hunters - to help break the typical tourism stereotypes and clichés of Mongolia. The support that we provide helps families to buy school uniforms or textbooks or covers university fees or emergency surgery costs. It allows the herders we support to pay for winter feed for their livestock. It allows a local NGO to provide financial support to women in need or allows a local project to provide free education & support to kids. It allows us to give interest-free grants or loans and provide a free training and development programme for Mongolian women.
Our business represents years of hard work, dedication, sleepless nights, angst, worry and stress but also a belief in something bigger. When travel is done right and responsibly it is a celebration of culture and people and landscapes. It connects us to each other and creates memories and connections that last a lifetime.
Why not use our own money?
We're an established business (2020 is our 10th year of operating - with 15 years based in Mongolia. It was going to be a summer of events that we would host for our guests and team but this is all on hold.) and like most tourism businesses, we have been hit hard by Covid-19. But we're proud that we've been giving support to our 2020 guests including 100% refunds. We've also managed to cover all of our operational costs from savings and overdrafts. But because of how we are set-up we don't qualify for the grants or loans currently on offer so that's why we asking for help in 'paying it forward.'
We have received many kind messages and know that we have some loyal support. That's why we are reaching out to our beloved community to help support us as a social travel enterprise - allowing us to continue to provide our extended support. We're asking for a funding target of £5000 but it is a stretch target and if we raise more then it all helps.
We have put together a range of, what we hope, are great rewards suited for a range of budgets as well as the option of just making a donation or turning your donation into a gift voucher. We also have pledges with a charitable element to help us spread our support further.
We understand that Covid-19 has created a very uncertain landscape for millions of businesses and we are just one of many. We also appreciate that you may personally have been affected financially by the pandemic and are not in a position to donate. We also appreciate that there are many other organisations and businesses also going down the crowdfunding route. If you're not comfortable with donating, that's OK.
But for those able to, please pledge what you can. Every little bit is hugely appreciated and goes a long way. It helps keep us determined to get through this.
Thank you for being part of the EL story and for being part of a bigger travel philosophy. Keep safe and take care.
Love, Jess & the team x
Introduction to our Mongolia
For those who have yet to visit Mongolia, we have (attempted to) bring our beloved Mongolia to you. Here's our introduction to Mongolia - a country which is so much more than its stereotype of Genghis Khan, nomads and untouched wilderness.
How does tourism help?
Here's an introduction to some of the people and projects that we work with and how our form of tourism helps to provide them with support.
Bashakhan - Kazakh Eagle Hunter
Bashakhan is 57 years old and lives in the district of Ulaankhuus in the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia. As well as being a herder he is also an eagle hunter. He lives with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and his four grandsons. Working in tourism helps him to survive financially so that he does not have to migrate to Ulaanbaatar. In his words,' Eagle hunting is not a job that every single Kazakh can do. We have inherited this from our ancestors and it is our responsibility to educate our children to continue the inheritance (continue the eagle hunting). I can't live without an eagle. If I have free time, I like to go to the mountains. It helps - riding, hiking, running and going hunting. There is no stress.'
In November 2019, we were approached to be fixers by Sam Potter - a writer and director who was tasked by Beautiful Destinations to create a short film on the Kazakh eagle hunters of western Mongolia. Take 11 minutes to travel to western Mongolia and get to know Bashakhan in person.
Mongolian Quilting Centre
Meet Selenge Tserendash - the founder.
The Mongolian Quilting Centre is known more formally as the New Way Life NGO – established in 2005 by Selenge Tserendash to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged and unemployed women based in Ulaanbaatar and in rural areas. Women are trained in the art of quilting, textiles and embroidery and use their skills to generate income for their families by crafting products to sell. The Mongolian Quilting Centre creates the EL tote bags that we provide as a free welcome gift to our guests.
- Learn more here - https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/mongolia-one-day-tours-mongolian-quilting-centre/
Nogoon Nuur Community Project
Meet the founder Ulziitogtokh Sodnomsenge – or Ulzii, as he is known.
There are few safe community spaces within the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar – especially community spaces where children can play – but the Nogoon Nuur Comunity Project is bucking this trend. We include a visit to Nogoon Nuur on our free city walking tour of Ulaanbaatar and make a donation per person that visits.
In the words of Ulzii, 'The kids in this area often have a very hard life. I want to give them somewhere to play.’ In the summer, he offers pedalo boats for children (and their parents) to use. In the winter, it converts to an ice-skating rink. Both experiences are affordable for local families surrounding the project. Ulzii also provides free ongoing educational support including access to computers, a small library and even music lessons.
Nergui and family
Nergui is a herder from the community of Erdenedalai in Mongolia's middle Gobi - a region frequently overlooked by tour companies as they focus on the highlights of the southern Gobi or western Mongolia. We focused on this region as it meant our support would have more impact and helps prevent urban migration - we work side by side with the family making sure our experiences are put together in a way which benefits the families, rather than disrupting their lives.
The EL Team
We don’t employ what other companies describe as being 'the best.' Instead, we provide long-term training, support and employment opportunities to those that want the opportunity to aim to be the best they can be. We invest in our team and call ourselves 'manaikhan' – ours or our people in Mongolian.
When EL was first created, it was just Turuu and I as a driver and guide. It was easier then as it meant we could micromanage. But we wanted to put more back into Mongolia. This has led to the formation of our low season training programme for Mongolian women that want to work in tourism but other companies won’t take as they don’t fit the stereotype or have the professional qualifications. Our female Mongolian trip assistants are dynamic women who are searching for an opportunity to learn and develop and we provide that long-term opportunity.
To counterbalance that, our drivers are all male. We only employ 10 drivers and we know each one and their family personally. They are not modern city men – they are more traditional men often now overlooked by other tour companies who prefer younger more international Mongolians who speak English. We wanted to provide equal opportunities and so as our trip assistants are female and typically younger with a more modern outlook, so our drivers are all male, older and from more traditional backgrounds. We find it is a partnership that works brilliantly well.
They work in tourism for the financial support it provides but also for more personal reasons ...
- 'It gives me freedom. Also, since I started to work in tourism, the life of my family has improved. It also gives me opportunities, lovely colleagues and lots of new experiences in my life.' - Odnoo
- 'Working in tourism has given me a lot of chances, opportunities, benefits, a lot of friends, a lot of memories and life experiences. I have experienced many different lifestyles and have learnt a lot of things from the local people. Working in tourism has helped me to find my inner person. Working in tourism has helped me to find who I am.' - Pujee
- 'Working in tourism helps in how I communicate, it helps with my personal learning, and in improving my language.' - Tuya
Thank you for your support - now and in the future. For more on our work in Mongolia - https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/