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Your photographic investment will give hope to a family in crisis | Kurt Vandeweerdt Photography

Your photographic investment will give hope to a family in crisis


(In case this blog post shows up in Dutch, please switch to English.)

Earlier this week I got a video call from Mongolia. Things are not so positive for the nomadic family I stayed with in 2017. Since borders closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, this family’s modest income has fallen to zero. As a result I’m donating 10% of the profits made from the Mongolia Collection in my online fine art print shop.

It might be a coincidence (or not), but shortly after the launch of my online fine art print shop, I got this video call from Dingil, the translator I hired during my two-week stay with nomads in Mongolia. He was my lead into the family you see photographed as he’s married to the daughter of the family. It turned out that Tabarak, the head of the family, was visiting Dingil to ask for financial help.

Picture of a nomadic family in Mongolia with photographer Kurt Vandeweerdt

(from left to right: Muka, Tabarak, Johna, Shapiza, Dingil and myself - 2017)

The reason is that when Mongolia closed its borders, international trade was cut short. Mongolia’s international trade of raw goods is the primary and, in most cases, the only income for nomadic people. They survive by exporting cashmere, wool, animal skin, and meat from their livestock. Today, export is basically non-existent. 

“In good times, 1KG of cashmere sells for close to €33 but in today’s climate it sells for just €6,65.”

As nomads, Tabarak’s family has no income whatsoever. For a family that would normally make 5 million MNT (€1.665) they now have an income of zero. Dingil explained, “In good times, one kilogram of cashmere sells for close to one hundred thousand MNT (€33) but in today’s climate it sells for twenty-thousand MNT (€6,65). The family would lose money by making these sales.” Not helping Tabarak's difficult situation is that his youngest son, Muka, has a kidney disease for which the family had to borrow money from the bank. They can no longer meet the repayments.

They need help, and with your help, I can provide it.

When I heard this story, I decided to gift 10% of the profits of every sale of the Mongolia Collection to this family. What better way to mark the launch of my online print shop than by giving back? So, for the rest of the year 2020, Tabarak and his family will receive 10% of the profit of every sale from the Mongolia Collection. From artwork sold before this blog post went live, I will still contribute the 10%. Dingil will collect the donations via Western Union and deliver it to Tabarak. In other words, your print purchase will immediately assist a nomadic family in need: no NGO or other organisation in-between.

“I will gift 10% of the profits of every sale directly to the family.”

To end this blog post, I'd like to share a beautiful moment of my time with the family. So, I stayed with them for two weeks, just living the daily life of nomads. Wonderful and grounding. The last night we had a drink to celebrate my stay and departure. With the little money they had, they bought a bottle of vodka and we shared some drinks together. At some point, I was asked something very memorable. The oldest son of the family and his wife were having a baby, to be born shortly after I was going to leave. And they asked me to pick the baby's name. How about that!? After giving them some options to choose from, they asked me to write down my name as well. For a girl, they picked Ella, and for a boy, they chose my name, Kurt. Guess what? They got a son. So, there is a little Kurt in Mongolia. You should not misread this, though. ;)

(left: Shuah, the daughter of Dingil, right: little Kurt - 2019)

This goes to show how they valued my stay with them. I still feel very much honoured by that and helping the family in these harsh times, even though we're all hit by the corona pandemic, is the least I can do.

If you can help Tabarak, little Kurt, and the rest of this generous family, select your favourite picture from the Mongolia Collection and I’ll take care of the rest. You can also sign-up for my newsletter to receive news on how the family is benefitting from your donation.