Portraits

Welcome to our series "Portraits" that pays a tribute to the impactful and often visionary work of the organisations we support.

Our "Portraits" tell the true stories of the beneficiaries our partners stand for. By presenting their lives, aspirations and challenges, we want to raise their voices so they can become an example and inspiration for social change.

Click here to read the other Portraits

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Artisanal and Small Scale Mining National Federation, Mongolia

It is not easy to realise one’s own dreams. Munkhzaya knows it well. A happy wife and mother of three children, she wanted to be a dressmaker, but a series of unlucky events prevented her from achieving her ambitions.

In 2016, Munkhzaya lost her job and her husband died in a car accident. Left alone to care for her children, she returned to live with her parents in a rural town in Khovd Province, in the extreme west of Mongolia. She had no choice but to become an artisanal miner in informal gold mines – a common trade in a region where job opportunities are scarce.

One day, Munkhzaya heard about a project developed by the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining National Federation (ASMNF) that encourages female miners to seek safer employment alternatives. She contacted ASMNF and was selected to participate in the project.

Her life changed almost overnight. She received business training and support to open a sewing workshop, “Goolingo”. Customers and orders started to increase exponentially, and Munkhzaya expanded her business by opening a beauty parlour and a barbershop.

Thanks to ASMNF, she received the opportunity to demonstrate her value and achieve her ambitions. Yet, the realisation of her own dreams was not enough for Munkhzaya. She wanted to do more to help other female miners that were experiencing the same challenges that she once faced.

I think that we should share our success with other people and make effective contributions to our society. This is why I am helping other single mothers and unemployed women”, says Munkhzaya.

The local community has already started to reap the rewards of her commitment. On 2019 International Women’s Day, Munkhzaya awarded a grant to a single mother that enabled her to receive training at “Goolingo”; she donated 180 hand-made scarves to help ASMNF support a campaign to empower other female miners and children; she is now planning to hire more women in full and part-time positions in her businesses.

Munkhzaya not only pursued her dreams beyond material and emotional difficulties, she is also helping other women realise themselves by multiplying the support and opportunities that she once received.

The Trafigura Foundation is collaborating with ASM NF to improve the socio-economic conditions of artisanal miners in Mongolia. Discover more about our partnership here