A small group will be driving an ambulance from the US to Mongolia. Even without the complication of oceans, this is a plan with many obstacles.
But first, consider the need. Mongolia is a vast, landlocked country with the lowest population density in the world. The majority of its people are nomadic herders traveling through a countryside with fewer than three people per square mile.
Providing services to people with no fixed address in a landscape with no permanent structures is frustratingly difficult. Healthcare in Mongolia is correspondingly poor. The World Health Organization places Mongolia among the bottom quarter of nations.
With no hospitals available for the overwhelming majority of Mongolians, ambulances are more than emergency service vehicles: they are essentially hospitals on wheels and literally lifesaving.
In the US, ambulances are regularly retired and replaced with newer, state-of-the-art vehicles. An ambulance that’s obsolete in the US can still provide years of valuable service in Mongolia. But how do you get one there?
The option we’ve chosen is to drive. We’ll be shipping our ambulance from New York to Istanbul (we’re not completely crazy), and then driving the remaining 5,000 miles to Ulaanbaatar.
The plan is not without problems, but it’s also not without precedent. Each year since 2007, the UK charity Go Help has been recruiting volunteers to find donated ambulances and deliver them to Mongolia. Each year, a dozen or so teams make the trip, most commonly from England and Western Europe.
We’re working with Go Help and Friends of Mongolia to make sure that we have all the right equipment and papers for the trip. To avoid waste disposal problems, the Mongolian government requires certification that all vehicles imported into Mongolia are useful. Passing through some of the countries en route requires complex transit visa negotiations. For matters like these, we’ll be leaning on the experience of our supporting organizations.
We’ve found a company willing to donate a vehicle. Fallon Ambulance Service of Boston, Massachusetts, with a history of vehicle donations both locally and internationally, will be choosing a vehicle for us when they replace ambulances in the fall.
We’re committed to making this trip and paying our way as we go. All personal expenses will come out of our own pockets. Friends of Mongolia has graciously offered to set up a fundraising page to help us raise money to cover the costs of preparing and shipping the ambulance. Any extra money will be put towards ongoing Friends of Mongolia projects.
We hope that you see the value in this plan – as well as the attraction of the adventure – and that you’ll choose to support our goals with a donation.
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