From Mongolia to Richmond: Coming Together To Clean Creeks

KIDS for the BAY fourth grade students from Castro Elementary School were honored with a visit from Mongolia’s Tsetsegee Munkhbayar last April. The students were cleaning up a trashed creek in the Richmond flatlands. Munkhbayar was in California to receive the prestigious, international, Goldman Environmental Prize. He was recognized for his work to save Mongolian rivers from the detrimental effects of gold mining, which devastate the environment on which local people depend for their livelihood.

People affected by water issues and environmental problems in Mongolia are largely living in rural areas. Richmond, California is highly urbanized. However, both environments are impacted by poverty, industry and water pollution and share this common ground.

Munkhbayar was interested in KIDS for the BAY’s programs because he believes that the involvement of youth is vital to the success of his movement in Mongolia.

 

“I am very excited to meet with you at KIDS for the BAY and to hear about all the work that you do with children. I believe that children are the most important component of our Onggi River Movement.”

— Tsetsegee Munkhbayar,
Goldman Environmental
Prize Winner, 2007

 

KIDS for the BAY took Munkhbayar to visit one of our creek education and restoration sites, Baxter Creek in Richmond, where a group of KIDS for the BAY students were cleaning up the creek. Gayle McLaughlin, the Green Party Mayor of Richmond, also joined us there and took a keen interest in meeting Munkhbayar and KIDS for the BAY staff and students.

Munkhbayar addressed the students, saying, “The land is your mother: you must respect and honor her, play with her, enjoy her and help to take good care of her.”

Later, at the KIDS for the BAY office, Munkhbayar shared some of the highlights of his work. He also presented Mandi Billinge, Executive Director of KIDS for the BAY, with a beautiful picture of his Onggi River that he had brought all the way from Mongolia.

In this international information exchange, Mandi shared with Munkhbayar the three key components for the success of KIDS for the BAY programs:

1) inspire a love of learning through hands-on science activities in the classroom and in the outdoors

2) encourage education through action and engage students in environmental action projects that empower them as leaders

3) ensure a lasting impact by training the teachers and engaging the whole school community.

KIDS for the BAY was honored by the visit from Munkhbayar. We feel fortunate to have had this information exchange and to feel solidarity with an environmental activist from another part of the world!