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is a nun and shares her views with us.

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works in the Maldives. He tells us whether it is a "paradise" for him.

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was born and raised in Amman. He works in the real estate industry. 

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 gives an insight into how Corona has changed his family life.

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is a professor at the university and brings us closer to Vietnamese legends and festivals. 

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tells us about his experiences as a half-nomad in his childhood. 

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let us participate in their daily lives. Charisa tells us about her school, her aunt Ria and what it is like to manage a job and a household. 

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 explaines us how the Covid 19 pandemic affects child sexual exploitation in her country and what ECPAT, the NGO she is working for, does in order to protect children. 

 

Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Zakia

 

March 2021

 

Zakia (63) is a nun and lives in the metropolis of Lahore on the border to India. Her father earned his living in the military, her mother was a very educated housewife. Zakia dedicates her simple and meaningful life with full devotion to the women, youth and children of Lahore. Since 1988, she has written monthly articles in two magazines and is responsible for the well-being of her fellow nuns. In addition, Zakia takes care of the needs of children in the education sector..

 

Zakia, how did you spend your childhood?

My childhood was carefree and I associate this time with many happy memories. I loved going to school. As a teenager I learned to play the piano, loved listening to music and poetry. I learned a lot about drama. When we had sports, I looked forward to the 100-metre runs and I was always enthusiastic about athletics too.

In the holidays we often went to Murree hills, a great picnic resort. The place is over 2,000 metres above sea level. When the view was good, we enjoyed the panorama of the surrounding mountains all the way to the Himalayas. Murree hills has been a tourist resort since 1851, founded by a British governor. Little changed after Pakistan's independence in 1947. People love Murree hills thanks to the pleasant temperatures in summer. 

What causes you a headache sometimes?

Pakistan is one of the most populous countries in the world. Alone from 2019 to 2020, the population has increased by about four million people. Water, food and goods of all kinds have lost their natural quality.

Then there is an influence of Islamists, it is changing the inner attitude and mindset of many people. As a nation, we miss our original freedom. Our lives, our actions, everything is being scrutinised by Islamist ideology and viewed from their side. I think that is a pity. Pakistan is so diverse and its people are filled with a great warmth, helpfulness and hospitality.

We Christians are a minority of 2 per cent, living very scattered in Pakistan.

Would you like to give us an insight into the culture of your country?

I would love to. Pakistan is a melting pot of cultures. Indian, Persian, Afghan, Central and West Asian influences meet here. Officially, besides Urdu, between 73 and 76 languages enrich my country.

Punjabis from the Punjab region, Sindhis on the Indian border in the south of Pakistan, the Baluchis, Pashtuns, Kashmiris (the area of Kashmir gained sad notoriety through the conflict with India) and Hazaras are just a few of the many ethnic groups in Pakistan.

We love to celebrate festivals, the bond within the family is strong, the focus is not on the individual but on the community where there is a lot of singing and dancing.

Qawwali, for example, is a traditional singing style that originated in the Punjab region. A famous Pakistani qawwali singer is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Pakistan was also home to the poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911 - 1984). His poetry was characterised by its reference to current social and political issues.

What couldn't people in Pakistan do without?

Chai tea and cricket! Although tea is grown in Pakistan itself, we are the third largest importer of tea. We like to drink tea strong and sweet with milk. On special occasions, we spice it with cardamom or other spices.

What would you like to leave us with?

I see it as a grace that I am salt, leaven and light, or in other words, that I can make a positive difference through my actions.  Easier said than done in daily life. God will help us all!

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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Didorali

 

March 2021

 

Didorali (24) was born and raised in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and worked in tourism during the summer months. Since the professional opportunities in the field of marketing could be better in Tajikistan and friends told him about a job in the Maldives, he plucked up the courage to try his luck in "paradise". Since January 2021, he has been working in the food and beverage sector and as a guest experience agent, where he looks after the well-being of Russian guests, mediates and translates when communication problems arise between guests and staff. 

How were the organisational challenges?

Simple, actually. After the contract was signed, I uploaded all the necessary documents for a business visa online, I was given a QR code, and the visa was printed out at the airport. From Dushanbe I flew via Istanbul, where I had to wait 15 hours in the airport with mask and gloves for my onward flight to Male. Once I arrived in Male, I was met by a hotel employee and went into a 10-day quarantine before I was allowed to start working. 

Have you worked abroad before?

No, this is the first time I have taken a job abroad.

It is also the first time in my life that I have seen the sea with my own eyes, perceived how it feels to swim in it, felt the sand between my toes.

As a student, I did a semester abroad in Poland and the Czech Republic. There I had the opportunity to make short trips to Germany and as part of a 10-day training I was once in Bruck an der Mur in Austria.  

It is common for people from Tajikistan to work abroad. Out of almost 10 million people, 2 million work in Russia alone. My father and my family also moved to Moscow about five years ago. My father works as a biologist in a laboratory. 

How is the hotel occupancy in times of Corona?

I work in a resort with about 90 rooms that opened about two years ago. In January we were partly fully booked, at the moment the occupancy rate is around 60 percent. The majority of our guests come from Russia, but also India and occasionally we have European guests, like from Great Britain or Germany.

Depending on their nationality, the guests (mostly families or couples) stay an average of one week.


From which countries do the hotel staff come from?

The majority of the staff are from the Philippines, others from Sri Lanka, India, Russia, Ukraine and South East Asian countries such as Indonesia. The General Manager and the Executive Chef are from Australia. The working language is English.

All the people who work at the resort also live here.

It is a very pleasant working environment, the staff are very helpful, friendly, they teach me a lot and I learn from their experiences.

Can you give us an insight into a normal working day?

If I'm on duty in the morning, I start at 7:30 a.m., otherwise at 12:30 p.m. Depending on the duty roster, there is a four-hour shift, followed by a two-or four-hour break before the second four-hour shift begins. The last shift ends at 23:00 in the evening.  

I greet people in the restaurant, am available to answer any questions, translate for Russian guests and look after their well-being. The majority of the guests feel comfortable to be able to speak Russian even on holiday and to have a contact person who meets their needs and wishes.  

Did you settle into your new rhythm of life quickly?

Actually, yes. Since the kitchen is international, there is a wide variety of food. The food is delivered every few weeks by a big ship.

One change has been that I can't meet up with friends after work or go out in a city. I miss the city life on the island. Leisure activities are limited and the days are very similar.

Since the island can be circumnavigated in max. 15 minutes, I often visit the fitness centre provided for employees, where max. 5 people are allowed to work out at the same time, and go swimming.  We have our own beach area and the staff area is separate from the guest area.

 

Are you satisfied with the accommodation provided?

Yes, everything is very comfortable. I share a room, a toilet and a bathroom with one person. Because of Corona, great care is taken to ensure that hotel staff from the same area share accommodation and are not mixed up.

Once a week, someone from housekeeping comes to maintain the rooms, and my uniform is provided ready ironed.

There is a small shop for staff where we can buy hygiene items and things for daily personal use.

What I like best is the weather. It is wonderful when it is always nice and warm and I can feel the warming rays of the sun on my skin.

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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Abed Al Majid

 

April 2021

 

Abed Al Majid (41) was born and raised in the metropolis of Amman.

He studied economics and works in the real estate industry. His greatest passion is swimming. He lives with his family in a house on the outskirts of Amman since 10 years. They have a daughter (12) and two sons (10, 6) who attend a private school.

How hard has Corona hit the real estate sector?

Strongly. The real estate sector is down. My employer, who also builds houses, has not realised a new project since the beginning of the pandemic, although Amman (approx. 4 million inhabitants) is a rapidly growing city. The market has plummeted, causing property prices to drop by up to 50 percent in some cases. Before Corona, for example, a medium-sized flat in the new town costed about USD 200,000 to USD 250,000. In the old town, property prices are much cheaper.

However, our company is not an isolated case, over 100 companies have closed and many more have no new projects.

Some people save their money, no one invests in such uncertain times. Others spend money to be able to survive.

You live in a housing estate on the outskirts of town, how can I imagine this?

There are some building regulations in my area. For example, no house can be higher than 2 floors, wooden houses are completely forbidden. A fence is mandatory for every property. Windows are covered with curtains to protect from prying eyes.

Due to the high summer temperatures, many houses are equipped with air conditioning in addition to aluminium blinds. Energy is very expensive. My sister, who also lives in my settlement (it was through her that we first got to know this beautiful place and bought land at that time), has solar panels installed on her roof to generate energy. She is very satisfied and the system will definitely pay for itself quickly.

What do you appreciate about Amman?

Amman (the city itself looks back on a very eventful and old history) connects me with many emotions and memories. My friends, my family, my centre of life was and is Amman. I love the weather, the sun, the dry air. Before Corona, my friends and I trained hard three times a week in a 50-metre pool. When I swim, I am a happy person! It hurts me that all the public pools have been closed for a long time. I haven't had such a long break from swimming in the last 20 years.

Have you ever seen snow?

Believe it or not, snow is not uncommon here. On average, Amman (elevation 784 metres) is covered in a blanket of snow once a year. (On the day of the interview, 2 April, it was warmer in Vienna than in Amman). Everyone looks forward to the snow. Friends and families come together and celebrate the snow with traditional food like manssaf and take lots of photos with themselves and the snow. When it snows, we don't have to go to work and the children don't have to go to school.

Winter tyres are uncommon. Roads have been cleared for a few years now, but the snow removal service still has to learn. They shovelled the snow in front of my garage.

Describe the rhythm of life in your city.

Before Corona, Amman was a city that never slept. Shops and restaurants were open seven days a week.

There is little alcohol consumption, but a lot of smoking (e.g. the water pipe) and coffee, preferably black, strong and without sugar.

There is a whole list of holidays. We celebrate Muslim holidays, the Eid ul-Adha festival being one of my absolute favourites, Christian holidays, like Christmas, and national holidays like Independence Day, which we celebrate every year on 25th May.

At the moment, the shops close at 6 p.m. On Fridays they are generally closed. There is a curfew after 7 p.m. Wearing a mask is compulsory.


Why do your children attend a private school?

Teachers are more responsive to children's needs, offer a wider range of school activities and foreign languages. Children in a private school learn English from the first grade, whereas children from public schools are immersed in this language years later. The earlier a child is introduced to Latin script and foreign languages, the easier it is to learn them.

Public schools are also attended by many refugee children. More than 700,000 refugees have found refuge in Jordan. According to the UN Refugee Agency, 88 percent of them come from Syria.

 

Would you like to give me an insight into your family life?

My children go to school and I go to work from Sunday to Thursday.

I get up at 7 a.m. every day and drive to work. If there is no traffic jam, I only need 15 minutes. Since public transport is very crowded, many people prefer to drive their own cars. This is one reason why the roads are heavily overloaded during rush hour.

On a positive note, I would like to mention that a dedicated bus lane has been built and will be opened in the near future.

In the evening, when my set goals have been achieved, I go to bed satisfied - and I look forward to the day when I can finally swim again.    

 
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Discovering the diversity of the world - a snapshot with Soso

 

April  2021

 

Soso (39) spent his childhood on the Black Sea coast. Together with his wife Nino and his sons Saba (10) and Nikoloz (8), called Nika for short, he lives in Tbilisi (Tiflis), the capital of Georgia.

He is a travel guide, his wife is a dentist who works for a pharmaceutical company that markets oral hygiene products. 

 

How has Corona changed your lives?

The pandemic changed a lot in our lives. Before Corona, we had very little time for each other, especially in the summer. During this time, I was usually on the road a lot for work and hardly ever at home. Corona made it possible for one of my son's dreams to come true: to do a lot together in the summer and spend a lot of time together as a family.

My children had online classes last year, and since a month ago the schools are open again, attendance is voluntary. Before the pandemic, the children visited their school friends almost every day. Currently, they communicate online and play games together, like Minecraft, Roblox, etc.

 

Do you want to tell something about your wedding?

Yes, it´s a pleasure. I met my wife in 2006, she was a dentist and I was her patient. My dental health required me to see Nino several times during a week, so we got chatting and kept in touch. In retrospect, my toothache was a good thing.

In 2008, we got married according to Georgian Orthodox rituals. My parents celebrated a wedding with about 700 people. At that time, this number was not unusually large. In contrast to then, our wedding was very tranquil with around 80 guests.

We spent our honeymoon in Germany, visiting a good friend of mine in Munich, whom I met at the time on a tour I was accompanying. As a wedding present he gave us this wonderful trip.

 

What impressions from your life and your home country would you like to share with me?

What fascinates me about Georgia is the nature, the mountains and the glaciers.

As a child, my favourite season was summer. I usually spent my holidays with my grandparents. Many tourists came to the Black Sea coast and I made friends with the children every year. The days were always too short because we wanted to play until late at night. We played all kinds of team games, which we thought up first. Nowadays, I have to ask my children to tear themselves away from the computer and spend more time at the playground with other children.

People from Guria, a region in West Georgia where I grew up, are considered compulsive, which is true of me only to a certain extent. Many traditional songs from the region tell about this issue. Here is a small sample. I myself like to listen to Pink Floyd.

 

Is there an awareness of sustainability?

There is still a lot of room for improvement. In my opinion, awareness of sustainability must mature among the population first. On a positive note, I would like to mention that the use of plastic bags is prohibited, with the exception of biodegradable bags. Organic products can be found in supermarkets and it is possible to order them online.

 

How do your and the other Georgian children grow up?

At the age of two, children in Tbilisi attend kindergarten and at the age of six, Georgian children are required to attend school. My boys attend a private school further away, which has a focus on languages. We chose this school because my sister teaches there and the school is on my daily way to work.

From the first grade, French is taught in addition to Georgian, the official language. English is taught in the second grade. The children learn Russian from the fifth grade onwards. In High school, there is a choice of other foreign languages.

The children share the class with about 18 other children.

 

Saba and Niko, what do you like to do and what are you particularly looking forward to?

Children: At home we like to play Lego and at school our favourite subject is maths.

We would especially like to have a dog, but we haven't yet been able to convince our parents. Maybe in the future. We get especially excited when our birthday is coming up or when the Christmas holidays are just around the corner. At this time we always go to the village where our grandparents lived and where our dad spent the summer holidays. It's a big family celebration every year.

Saba: I'm learning guitar, love the book „Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and enjoy watching „The Mandalorian“.

 
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Discovering the diversity of people - a snapshot with Hương

 

May 2021

 

Hương (40+) saw the light of day on a beautiful autumn day in Hanoi. Her parents gave her this beautiful name, which translates as "The flavour of Autumn". When she was 10 years old, the family moved to what was then Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), where she has lived ever since.

As she enjoyed playing school as a child and loved taking on the role of teacher, she became a teacher and later a professor. Currently, Hương teaches at a university in Ho Chi Minh City.

 

What were the biggest challenges in distance learning?

As my students are already adults and have access to good computers, the difficulties were moderate. I remember that the internet connection was often poor. Often the microphones echoed and barking dogs or clucking chickens could be heard in the background. Distance learning became routine for my students after about a month.

 

How did you feel about your childhood?

Peaceful. I spent hours watching dragonflies and butterflies. In the beginning I walked to school, later I rode my bike. Every day I heard the chirping of birds on my way. At that time, the city was not overpopulated, but cosy. Surrounding villages lived in harmony with nature, the natural diversity of the villages disappeared with time, giving way to modern cities with their high-rise buildings and industry. When I walk on the city streets now, it is dusty, the birds are overruled or disappeared by the traffic, I have to concentrate with all my senses, otherwise I will be bumped into.

I spent my holidays then as I do now on Vietnam's beautiful beaches.

I was born into a country with a thousand years of history and a very vibrant culture.

 

What do you understand by traditional Vietnamese cuisine?

I personally love to eat the very famous Pho soup, or Bún chả, a grilled pork with noodles. I usually have breakfast around 7:30, lunch around 12:30 and dinner around 18:00.

 

I would like to share with you the legend of Banh Chung, a "rice cake" essential for our most important holiday, Tết Nguyên Đán, or Tết for short, our New Year celebration.

The legend highlights the important role of our rice culture.

All family members sit together while cooking. We tell each other stories, share life experiences and welcome a new year with best wishes.

The legend goes back thousands of years, when the Hong Bang dynasty, or more precisely the sixth Hung king ruled the country. When the king wanted to hand over his throne, he thought of a competition between his 21 sons. The one who could prepare the best dish for him, a dish that symbolically reflected the value of their ancestors, would become his successor.

All but the 18th son, Lang Lieu, travelled the provinces in search of the most expensive and extraordinary dishes. Lang Lieu searched for ingredients that were connected to nature. One night he had a dream, a deity gave him the following wisdom along the way: "There is nothing greater than heaven or earth. Rice is our greatest and most precious treasure.

Use glutinous rice, and form Banh Chung, in the shape of a square, which represents our earth. (At that time, people thought the earth was square). Fill it with green beans, and pork. These ingredients symbolise the plants and animals on earth. Cover the filling with green leaves, as a sign of the care that parents have for their children.

Next, use ground glutinous rice to cook bánh dày (a white, cup-shaped and round glutinous rice cake). Place this cake on the green leaves, it symbolises heaven."

When he woke up, he immediately began to prepare both dishes. On the day of the competition, the king was so overwhelmed by the taste, and its symbolic meaning, that he chose Lang Lieu as his successor. Since then, Banh Chung has been an integral part of the annual New Year celebration.

 

Would you like to introduce me to a traditional Vietnamese festival?

The festival of the Hùng kings is very important in our culture. The main celebrations take place at the Hung Temple in Phu Tho province. There we honour our ancestors and pray for good weather, abundant harvests, good luck and good health. The festival is celebrated every year for one week in the third month of the moon.

 

Can you give us an insight into Vietnamese music?

With pleasure. I like to listen to traditional music.

UNESCO has listed our Nha Nhac and Quan ho Bac Ninh music as Intangible World Cultural Heritage. Vietnam was and is strongly connected to its music. Ca trù music has its roots anchored 1,000 years in thousand-year-old Ly Dynasty.

 

What means: Discover the diversity of people in Vietnamese language?

Khám phá sự đa dạng và khác biệt của con người.

 
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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Charisa and Ria

 

May 2021

 

Charisa (13) lives in Malang, the eighth largest city on the island of Java, and is currently attending the first grade of a private junior high school. Since the start of this term (July 2020), Charisa has been taking classes online. Her aunt Ria (39) lives in a house about 5 km away from Charisa's. She has her own business with a school office. She runs a school-office supplies grocery shop and is working from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Would you like to describe your room to me?

Charisa: As I don´t have any siblings, I have a very small but private room with a pink princess wall. For me, my room is the most beautiful and the cosiest room in the whole house. When I look out of my window, I see our little garden and the colourful flowers that my mother has planted. In times of distance learning, my room is also my "working space". When I get tired of learning, I hop into my bed, cuddle up to my uncountable stuffed animals, which give me a feeling of security, and take a short break. For me, the best feeling in the world!

If I want to watch a movie, a series or a TV show, I prefer to watch them on my mobile phone while comfortably laying in my bed. I find it more convenient than watching them on our familiy TV. I also like to listen to music or play games on my mobile phone.

 

What subjects do you have at school?

Charisa: I have art, religion, biology, chemistry, physics, entrepreneur (in this subject we learn about business and marketing), mathematics, IT, geometry, history, humanities, Bahasa-Indonesia, PE.

I have been learning English since I was five, Mandarin (Chinese) since I was eight and Japanese since this term. A language in which I am not very good yet, though.

I attend a private school because it ensures a better education and is more focused on English.

 

What do you like about school life, what do you don´t like?

Charisa: I look forward to seeing my friends and spending time with them and having fun. Luckily, my school is close to our house where I am brought and picked up by my parents every day. The exam period is very stressful and causes a lot of pressure in me. During this time, I have very little free time for myself as I must study a lot and also combine it with my after-school activities (English, Mandarin, Ballet). We also have homework and projects all the time.

I am already looking forward to "normal classes". I can concentrate better, and I am happy to have my friends around me.

Holidays are also a great thing. The longest holidays are from June to July and around Christmas.

 

What are your dreams for the future?

Charisa: I would like to become a very successful and educated woman one day, earning a high income so that my parents can be proud and happy of me.

 

When does the family get together?

Ria: Family is very important. Before Corona, I saw Charisa once or twice a week. On Chinese New Year or my parents' birthday, the whole family gets together. I have a very close relationship with my two older brothers. Usually once a year, we go together on holidays.

Charisa: We love to go together to Singapore or to amusement parks.

 

Is it difficult for you to balance work and household?

Ria: In Indonesia it’s common to have a helper in the household. So, the "helper" manages the household for me. And since I am still living in my parents’ house my mom also helps me a lot.

I have a little daughter, Celine (3). She has been attending a playgroup twice a week since she was 18 months old. Starting in July, she will attend a new playgroup, a level before kindergarten. She also attends an online English course twice a week.

A Babysitter accompanies my daughter while I am at work.

For me, a bigger challenge was not wanting to have a baby after marriage. Inside my heart I didn't feel ready for this big step. Now I am ready. I am very happy and satisfied having Celine around me. I thank God for blessing me with her.

 

How long were you at home after giving birth to your daughter?

Ria: My husband helped me for the first two weeks as I felt too weak for working. Afterwards I worked part-time. When Celine was 6 months old, I switched back to full-time. I took her to my shop at that time together with a babysitter. During the pregnancy I worked more or less until the last day before Celine was born. You have to know, if I am not working, the shop is closed. We do not receive any financial support from the government.

 

What does "the diversity of the people" mean in Bahasa Indonesia?

Charisa und Ria: Keragaman orang

 
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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Janice

 

November 2021

 

Janice (41) was born in Mindanao and moved to the island of Bohol in the Central Visayas during her childhood. Janice spent her years at the Diliman Quezon City University in Manila, she has a Bachelor of Arts and a Major in History, over 800 km away. Together with her husband, her two daughters and her son, she lives in a house with a garden in Tagbilaran, the capital of the Bohol province. As it is common in the Philippines, she also has a dog and a few cats.

Since 2014, Janice has been working for the NGO ECPAT, an Association for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation, in the regional office in Bohol.

 

Tell us a little about Bohol and the Philippines.

My home island is a very popular tourist destination. We are famous for our beaches, coral reefs, the tarsier with its oversized round googly eyes and the geologically unusual Chocolate Hills.

These hills get their name because they are covered with grass which turns brown during the dry season, between February and June. 1268 hemispherical or cone-shaped limestone hills, up to 120 meters high, are spread across the island.

The Philippines, an archipelago of over 7.000 islands, has a turbulent history. We were under the Spanish crown for more than three hundred years, then ruled by the Americans for almost 50 years and by the Japanese for a few more years during the Second World War. We gained our independence on 4th July 1946.

 

What is your favorite place in Tagbilaran and in Bohol?

The mall. We have high humidity all year round and the mall has pleasant temperatures. There, I meet friends, attend church services (the majority are Catholic), go to the hairdresser, get a massage, watch a movie, or do the weekly groceries.

Due to the pandemic, children are only allowed to visit the mall from Friday to Sunday and senior citizens only on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

To relax, I go to one of the beaches with my family. The nearest beach is about 15 km from Tagbilaran. Paradoxically, many cannot afford to go to the beach. The few public beaches are dirty and crowded, and the private beaches cost an entrance fee. For European standards, five or six dollars per person may not seem much, here it is often a day's wages. As a family the costs add up. Sometimes there is an extra entrance fee for the pool and sunbeds.

 

How did you get in touch with ECPAT?

Before joining ECPAT, I worked as a tour guide. When an earthquake, measuring over seven on the Richter scale, changed our lives at 8:12 on the 15th of October 2013, there was no tourism on the island, and I lost my source of income.

We were very lucky because the 15th of October was a Tuesday and a public holiday. So the children were not at school, many adults were not at work and no one attended a church service. Most of the churches, many from the 17th century, were badly damaged or razed to the ground. Our house was also damaged, as were many other buildings, roads, and bridges. My family and I slept in a tent for three months in fear of the aftershocks. It took years to rebuild most of the buildings.

I found work with the humanitarian aid organization Community and Family Services International (CFSI). When the humanitarian aid was stopped after several months, I found out through CFSI that the NGO ECPAT wanted to set up a branch in Tagbilaran and was looking for employees. I applied for the job and got accepted.

 

What is ECPAT doing to protect children from sexual exploitation in tourism?

Our children and adolescents are highly affected by all forms of sexual exploitation.

In cooperation with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and within the framework of the "TourISM WoRCS" program, we train and sensitize a wide range of local tourism stakeholders and their employees nationwide in the form of webinars and workshops. We show strategies and give them various tools to take with them on their way. The goal is a zero-tolerance policy and the establishment of child protection guidelines, which is also set down in a contract.

We also lobby the Philippine Congress and Senate. We also want to promote The CODE (The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism), the code of conduct in the tourism industry, in the private sector.

We engage in capacity building and work actively with the government and tourism professionals and businesses.

We create awareness among travelers and provide detailed information material. On the platform www.nicht-wegsehen.at,  travelers can report suspicious situations in a quick and uncomplicated way.

 

How does the Covid 19 pandemic affect child sexual exploitation in the Philippines?

Children are the most vulnerable members of our society. They are being denied high quality education and they suffer the most from the pandemic. Since March 2020, Philippine schools have been closed and all children are in distance learning.

From March to May 2020, the Department of Justice recorded an increase of about 264 percent in cases of online child sexual exploitation.

It is reported that children and young people prostitute themselves on the internet in order to buy equipment and internet data for online education.

Our country is heaven on earth for foreign visitors. It is hard to imagine that just a few steps away from this paradise, many under-aged children experience hell.

 

What does "discover the diversity of the people" mean on Boholano?

Mahibaw an ang mga kalahian ug kinaiyahan sa tao.

 

Boholano is a Filipino dialect. There are more than 180 languages spoken in the Philippines. The official language is English and Tagalog (Filipino). Many young people speak only English and learn Mandarin in Chinese schools. With English and Mandarin skills, these people have better job opportunities in the future, but they lose their linguistic identity and roots.

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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Tsolmon

 

February 2022

 

Tsolmon was born in the Year of the Tiger (1974) in Bulgan, located at an altitude of 1,208 meters, in the northern part of Mongolia. When he was born, Tsolmon was a proud nine months old baby according to the "Mongolian calendar".

When he was twelve years old, the family moved from Bulgan to the countryside. This time was very impressive for Tsolmon. However, he went on to study in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. After studying economics, he worked as an accountant before he was ready for his next step: studying agriculture at the Studienkolleg in Halle, Germany. As fate so happens, Tsolmon dropped out of his studies to fly home and care for his mother who lived alone.

Since 2006, Tsolmon lives in Ulaanbaatar, a metropolis of about 1.5 million people, and discovered his love for tourism, as well as the indescribable vastness (which cannot be captured by any photo or film) and beauty of his country. Next to Greenland, Mongolia has the lowest population density in the world.

 

What experiences occur to you when you think back to your childhood?

My father was a truck driver, my mother worked as a cook in a kindergarten. I remember our cattles. My sisters used to milk the animals in the morning and in the evening. My little brother and I took the calves to a river valley during the day. While we were doing this, we often played by the river and sometimes forgot our real job.

I also remember that at the end of our summer vacation (which lasted from June to September) we had to bring a freshly planted flower and the fur of ten gophers to school. We flooded the rodents' burrows or set traps to catch the animals. Once we had caught a gopher, we had to peel off its fur with a knife and stretch it on a board to dry.

 

Did you spend a lot of time hunting as a child?

My father took me hunting for the first time when I was twelve. Four years later I caught my first animal, a badger. Later, I shot deer, marmots, wild boars and wolves. I always ate the animals together with my family or shared them with neighbors.

Before my father died, he taught me many things besides hunting. He showed me how to build the ridge of the roof, the posts and poles, and the scissor-grid wall and door of a yurt (ger), and taught me how to use an axe safely.

My wooden house in which I live today in Ulaanbaatar with my wife and the three children (Enkhojut, Chinkhem and Agaikhur), I built myself at the countryside, afterwards I had to take it down again and rebuild it piece by piece in the city.

 

What was your favorite season as a child?

You have to know; I live in a country of extremes with over 260 days of sunshine. The difference in temperature between day and night can be as much as 32 degrees. In winter we sometimes have - 50 degrees, in summer + 40 degrees Celsius.

Autumn was and still is my favorite season. At that time, we lived on the edge of a forest and in autumn the forest was shining in all its bright colors. We gathered wild fruits, harvested grain and often I lay down in the meadow with a blade of grass in my mouth, watching the sky and feeling the wind and the soft golden sun on my skin.

But this season was also a very labor-intensive time because we had to prepare well for the winter.

Additionally, Airag, a slightly acidic drink made from fermented mare's milk and a low alcohol content, is at its best in the fall. The drink was included in the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage List in 2019.

 

How are your children growing up?

My children were born and raised in the city. They know not much about nomadic life. In the summer we go to the countryside, to Bulgan or to Dadal where my wife was born.

 

Which festivals and customs are important to you?

We celebrated the New Year festival Tsagaan Sar in 2022 at the beginning of February. We visited many families and received many visitors. We prepared about 1,500 dumplings, cooked a lot of beef and sheep, and enjoyed the traditional New Year pastry Ul Boov.

A custom I celebrate annually is to bring offerings (milk, liquor, sweets, bread) to an ovoo in my hometown. An ovoo is a cairn on a peak or mountain pass with which spiritual beliefs are associated. Here we show our respect for the nature spirits and thank them for their help and support during the year.

 

Would you like to tell me more about your roots?

Where should I start? The best place is with my grandfather. He came from the southern part of Lake Baikal to the forested north of Mongolia during the October Revolution (1917). An area that lies in what is now Buryatia, an autonomous republic in Russia.

We (the Buryats) live in the north of Mongolia. The Chalcha-Mongols are the largest population group with 70 percent.

Mongolia is a country of diversity. Besides these two main groups, there are numerous tribes and nationalities: The Dariganga, the Ölöten, the Durvud, Torguud and many, many more ethnic groups I could list here.

 

Can you translate "Discover the diversity of people" in Mongolian?

Орон орны хүмүүсийн өнгө төрх