Catholic order in Mongolia

Catholic order in Mongolia

Catholic order in Mongolia

Catholic order in Mongolia battles poverty, rumors, reputation

A Shakespearian character once said that a good reputation matters more than what you actually do;
Father Louis-Marie at Mongolia's branch of Fraternite Notre Dame—a French Catholic Order—might argue the reverse is also true. Having established a hospital, a soup kitchen, a housing project for the poor and an orphanage, the Fraternite felt confident its work would be accented, if not appreciated by the community.

However, some bad press and rumors about the orphanage have turned public opinion against the group order and left Louis-Marie trying to restore the group's image. The task has not been easy. Uguumur Orphanage is usually home to 26 children, most of whom were abandoned on Ulaanbaatars streets and brought to the site by police officers, said Louis-Marie.

The trouble began when three of those children, suffering from medical conditions that required advanced treatment, were sent to the order's base in Chicago. Louis-Marie related that shortly afterwards, an overzealous inspection crew from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare gave the Orphanage a particularly bad report. Then, reports emerged that the missing kindergarten-age orphans had been harmed or misused while in the United States.

"The newspapers were saying we sell organs or we sell the children over there." Louis-Mane said. 'That was a big lie.'"Neither the priest, nor the two nuns who work at the orphanage said they knew why these stones emerged,
but speculated that they may have their roots in xenophobia or that the order brings help for the poor, but not business dollars to Mongolia.

Whatever the cause, Louis-Marie said that the made-up allegations held very real consequences for the group's aid projects, a Mongolian company that once provided assistance to the order stopped issuing food donations after reading the articles. Troubled by the news, Louis-Marie contacted his colleagues at the order's headquarters in Chicago, asking them to bring the children to the Mongolian Ambassador in Washington D.C. in order to prove they were alive and well.

Louis-Marie keeps the letter, signed by-Ambassador Kh.Bekhbat, at the orphanage, hi his message, Bekhbat writes that the children, "whom I met today with their joyful faces and cheerful utterances compelled me to believe in promising futures laying ahead of them.", Louis-Mane hopes that this kind of support will help the order return to its former standing in the eyes of Mongolian people, but he fears that some of the damage to the Fraternite Notre Dame's name may linger.

Whether or not that is the case, however, Louis Marie says that he and the sisters who work with him will continue to perform their duties in Mongolia. "There's no concern about us leaving," he said. "It's just given us a bad reputation around Mongolia." But then, for the order, there is more at stake than just a good reputation.


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