Linked with Mongolian Women’s NGO Coalition.
She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “Be a model of being healthy mentally and in the heart by the way of self-development”.
Semjidmaa Damba – Mongolia
She works for the Mongolian Union of Vulnerable Group Business Women, mentionned as ‘Association of Business Women of Vulnerable Group’ on the Mongolian Women’s NGO Coalition.
Born in 1943 to a nomadic Buryat family in Mongolia, Semjidmaa Damba was an enthusiastic student who chose to become a telecommunications engineer. Her diploma work at the Odessa Institute (former Soviet Union) in 1967 helped to considerably improve local automatic telephone stations in Mongolia. Semjidmaa taught telecommunications and information technology for many years, but stopped when she lost her working capacity because of disability. Her spirit, however, remained strong and soon she started, alongside other women, the Mongolian Union of Vulnerable Group Business Women.Semjidmaa Damba belongs to the Buryat ethnic branch of the Mongolian nation.
Her people suffered greatly from the communist repressions of the 1930s. It seems almost a miracle that a normal Buryat family had survived to give birth to a child in the war year of 1943. At one time, no male could have been seen in regions populated by Buryats, who were mostly migrants from Russia to Mongolia after the October Revolution. Ancient chronicles usually specify the Buryats as “forest people,” implying that they settled in the North of Mongolia and the Baikal lake region. However, in the eyes of the Soviets, the migration of Buryats back to Mongolia appeared to be a betrayal of the revolution, with all the tragic consequences for the Buryats.
Semjidmaa was born with a peculiarly diversified and positive interest in life. Her active socializing nature stems from her earliest days. While still a pre-school girl, she liked to mingle with neighbours to teach literacy to elder people. For her enterprising and competitive personality, she was often called by her schoolmates ‘a Mongolian Jew’.
Significantly, as medical documents testify, this lively woman lost up to 80 percent of her labour capability through illness and disability, cutting short her promising career in telecommunications engineering. According to her estimates,there are more than 40,000 disabled former workers in Mongolia, while the total number of disabled persons of all ages may reach 120,000. Their condition puts them at greater risk than any others in the face of economical collapse, political pressures and poverty.
Understanding such problems personally and in detail, Semjidmaa challenged one of the most difficult social problems– virtually beyond any concern by the state. Together with other women, she started the the Mongolian Union of Vulnerable Group Business Women (MUVGBW). It grew rapidly, thanks to contributors and volunteers, and now runs six clubs and three local branches.
To ensure the professional efficiency of their practical functions, clubs are highly specialized. One assists treatment of those with Parkinson’s disease. Another is engaged in developing and popularizing the traditional Mongolian medicine and herbal medicine. A third club promotes international relations by disabled students or students from low income families. Another concentrates on developing gifted children of vulnerable group.
Small business training is an important concept. The idea of a market economy still makes many communities uneasy. Furthermore, the Mongolian market as a whole is small, making it difficult to carve out a niche. In these circumstances, small business and self-employment training becomes essential. Semjidmaa contributes greatly to this cause by providing self-employment opportunities. She now travels to various localities in a mobile van to provide training.
Since 2004 the MUVGBW has provided training and publicized service for “social health and family development” to more than 3000 people.
Now Semjidmaa plans to enhance operations through the Union. She looks for new priorities and thinks that the government programme “Green Wall,” designed to prevent desertification, can be a good opportunity for vulnerable communities to earn money on a stable basis. Within this framework, she has begun to talk to authorities about employing women and disabled citizens in a large-scale plan for the Kherulen River Basin to cultivate so-called rhamnoides, an indigenous fruit which is highly marketable raw material for pharmaceuticals and the food industry. This way, Semjidmaa’s social policy may acquire nationwide size and scope. (Read all on 1000peacewomen).
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