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Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar Grapples With Challenge of Equal Access for Disabled

Zulaa Batchimeg (left), pushes her 5-year-old daughter Emuujin, who suffers from congenital hip problems, along a sidewalk cluttered with dislodged cobblestones and bricks during a march for disability rights. (Photo: Pearly Jacob)

Munkhtulga Tseveldorj is successful for a 22 year old. Author of two poetry books, he has a third on the way. He’s a good student in the library management program at the Mongolian Institute of Arts and Culture. And he is one of the very few physically disabled Mongolians working on a university degree.

Though he is "handling classes fine,” attending lectures is a challenge. Tseveldorj was born with cerebral palsy—a condition that renders him unable to control his motor movements. He speaks and walks with great difficulty, but cheerfully declares "there is no limit to inspiration," when asked about living with his condition. In Mongolia, many people with physical disabilities are effectively confined to their homes. Like most developing countries, Mongolia lacks public infrastructure such as ramps. School can be just five steps out of reach for a wheelchair-bound child.

Only a handfull of buildings in Ulaanbaatar are equipped with ramps, says Chuluundolgor Bat of the Mongolian Association of Wheelchair Users. Rendered paraplegic in an accident when she was 16, Bat says the only reason she finished college was thanks to constant family assistance.

To read the full story

Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar Grapples With Challenge of Equal Access for Disabled

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