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Mongolia’s Homeless Living Underground In Sewers

Mongolians living underground in sewers to avoid winter cold.

Mongolians living underground in sewers to avoid winter cold.

From ifeng:

The “ant tribe” that doesn’t hurt the city’s appearance: Mongolians of the underground sewers

A homeless Mongolian lives underground to hide from the harsh winter season.

Ulaanbaatar’s [or Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia] winters are very cold, its temperatures reaching -25 degrees Celsius. Therefore, for those homeless people without homes to return to, winter is a relatively difficult season, and they have no choice but to go underground and near the heating pipes to avoid the winter cold. When it gets dark, like ants, they crawl into shared areas [underground], not blocking the roads, with no need at all to evict them, “absolutely” not harming the city’s appearances. Photographer: Paula Bronstein. Editor: Wang Pinwei. Photograph source: CFP.

First time photographed.

First time [they were] photographed.

A homeless Mongolian emerges from the sewer in Ulaanbaatar.

2000 October 15, Ulaanbaatar, the 8-month pregnant 17-year-old young girl Altanchimeg crawls out from “home” to look for her livelihood. Altanchimeg says she has been living in this city for 8 years.

Mongolian girls preparing food in their underground home.

2000 October 15, Ulaanbaatar, Altanchimeg (right) and her friend Tsetsegee are at “home” preparing a meal, the two of them taking care of and depending on each other in life. Every winter, they live beside a nearby heating pipe to hide from the cold winter.

Two Mongolian girls living in the sewers, reading a book by candlelight.

2000 October 15, Ulaanbaatar, Altanchimeg is brushing her hair, Tsetsegee (front) is on the side reading a book by candlelight.

A drunk Mongolian boy collapsed at the entrance of his underground home.

2000 October 15, Ulaanbaatar, 11-year-old youth Menhtor, who has already learned how to get drunk, lies dazedly at the entrance to “home”.

A drunk young Mongolian boy passed out on the entrance to his home in the sewers of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

2000 October 15, Ulaanbaatar, dead drunk Menhtor is asleep, having collapsed on the manhole cover.

Second time photographed, ten years later.

The second time [they were] photographed.

A Mongolian woman looks up out of the manhole that is the entrance to her underground sewer home.

2010 March 16, Ulaanbaatar, 36-year-old Erdenetsetseg sits at “home” observing a sky the size of a manhole cover. Five years earlier, Erdenetsetseg arrived in Ulaanbaatar. Without work, she has survived by collecting trash.

A homeless Mongolian in Ulaanbaatar lies on underground heating pipes.

2010 March 16, Ulaanbaatar, Erdenetsetseg lies on a heating pipe to sleep.

A Mongolian who lives in the sewers uses cardboard as a door.

2010 March 16, Ulaanbaatar, to make it more convenient to enter and exit, Erdenetsetseg uses cardboard [instead of the manhole cover] as a “front door”. To this end, she has also poked a hole in the cardboard to allow air circulation.

A homeless Mongolian man sticks his head out of the sewers.

2010 March 15, Ulaanbaatar, Naranbaatar sticks his head out from his “home”, to feel the wind bask in the sun.

A drunk homeless Mongolian man crawls into his underground home.

2010 March 16, Ulaanbaatar, drunk Naranbaatar lies at the hole, looking into his own “home”.

A Mongolian man asleep in the sewer by the open manhole cover.

2010 March 16, Ulaanbaatar, deep night, a male falls asleep with the “door” open.

A Mongolian child yawns while sitting on a bed pan in an underground sewer that serves as his home.

2010 March 16, Ulaanbaatar, 18-month-old baby boy Munkhorgil is sitting on his “home’s” bed pan yawning. Perhaps he should be called “sewer child” [“sewer second generation”].

Memorable.

English photographer James W. Hill’s photographic work “Love and Peace (Ouynaa And Tsetsegee)” is memorable.

A mother hugs her daughter at the mouth of their underground sewer home in Mongolia.

Nikon Photo Contest International 2002-2003 winner: “Love and Peace (Ouyaa And Tsetsegee)”. In Mongolia’s Ulaanbaatar city center, a mother hugs her daughter at the “front door of her home”. The photographer successfully captured a rare expression of happiness of the “underground people”, showing their dignity of their lives. Photographer: James W. Hill (UK).

Some more photographs from Sohu:

ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA-MARCH 16 : Erdenetsetseg,36, tries to keep warm down inside the sewer  filled with garbage where she lives  March 16, 2010  in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Erdenetsetseg moved to the capitol city from a province, without work she collects cans and bottles to make enough money to buy a little food and vodka. Since 70 years of communist rule ended in 1990, Mongolia has become one of the most pro-business countries. While economic reforms have brought prosperity to Ulaan Baatar, there still widespread unemployment, some used to work in the now defunct state industries. Approximately over 35% of Mongolians live below the poverty line, many unable to buy basic food needed to survive. Social problems include depression, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime. Mongolia suffers with a very high number of alcoholics, all consuming cheap Mongolian vodka that is readily available to the poor and the unemployed, Many Mongolians have immigrated to the capitol city from the far away provinces seeking employment.  For the homeless during the winter this means extreme hardship, for some homeless living in the sewers means warmth verses dealing with temperatures dropping as low as -25C mid- Winter. This year Mongolia has experienced the worst winter in 30 years. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

Erdenetsetseg, 36-years-old, is huddling her body for warm. Mongolia’s winters are very cold, the temperatures reaching -25 degrees Celsius. Therefore, for those homeless people without homes to return to, winter is a relatively difficult season, and they have no choice but to go into the city’s sewer system to live.

ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA-MARCH 13 : Erdenetsetseg,36, drink vodka, living in a sewer filled with garbage  March 13 2010  in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Erdenetsetseg moved to the capitol city from a province five years ago, without work she collects cans and bottles to make enough money to buy a little food and her daily fix of vodka.  Since 70 years of communist rule ended in 1990, Mongolia has become one of the most pro-business countries. While economic reforms have brought prosperity to Ulaan Baatar, there still widespread unemployment, some used to work in the now defunct state industries. Approximately over 35% of Mongolians live below the poverty line, many unable to buy basic food needed to survive. Social problems include depression, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime. Mongolia suffers with a very high number of alcoholics, all consuming cheap Mongolian vodka that is readily available to the poor and the unemployed, Many Mongolians have immigrated to the capitol city from the far away provinces seeking employment.  For the homeless during the winter this means extreme hardship, for some homeless living in the sewers means warmth verses dealing with temperatures dropping as low as -25C mid- Winter. This year Mongolia has experienced the worst winter in 30 years. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

Erdenetsetseg often drinks until she is dead drunk.

ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA-MARCH 16 :  A homeless man warms up inside a homeless shelter, taking a night off from life in the sewer March 16, 2010  in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Since 70 years of communist rule ended in 1990, Mongolia has become one of the most pro-business countries. While economic reforms have brought prosperity to Ulaan Baatar, there still widespread unemployment, some used to work in the now defunct state industries. Approximately over 35% of Mongolians live below the poverty line, many unable to buy basic food needed to survive. Social problems include depression, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime. Mongolia suffers with a very high number of alcoholics, all consuming cheap Mongolian vodka that is readily available to the poor and the unemployed, Many Mongolians have immigrated to the capitol city from the far away provinces seeking employment.  For the homeless during the winter this means extreme hardship, for some homeless living in the sewers means warmth verses dealing with temperatures dropping as low as -25C mid- Winter. This year Mongolia has experienced the worst winter in 30 years.  (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

A homeless person exiting the sewer.

ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA-MARCH 16 :  A homeless man warms up inside a homeless shelter, taking a night off from life in the sewer March 16, 2010  in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Since 70 years of communist rule ended in 1990, Mongolia has become one of the most pro-business countries. While economic reforms have brought prosperity to Ulaan Baatar, there still widespread unemployment, some used to work in the now defunct state industries. Approximately over 35% of Mongolians live below the poverty line, many unable to buy basic food needed to survive. Social problems include depression, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime. Mongolia suffers with a very high number of alcoholics, all consuming cheap Mongolian vodka that is readily available to the poor and the unemployed, Many Mongolians have immigrated to the capitol city from the far away provinces seeking employment.  For the homeless during the winter this means extreme hardship, for some homeless living in the sewers means warmth verses dealing with temperatures dropping as low as -25C mid- Winter. This year Mongolia has experienced the worst winter in 30 years.  (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

Surrounding the heating pipes to stay warm.

ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA-MARCH 16 :  A homeless man warms up inside a homeless shelter, taking a night off from life in the sewer March 16, 2010  in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Since 70 years of communist rule ended in 1990, Mongolia has become one of the most pro-business countries. While economic reforms have brought prosperity to Ulaan Baatar, there still widespread unemployment, some used to work in the now defunct state industries. Approximately over 35% of Mongolians live below the poverty line, many unable to buy basic food needed to survive. Social problems include depression, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime. Mongolia suffers with a very high number of alcoholics, all consuming cheap Mongolian vodka that is readily available to the poor and the unemployed, Many Mongolians have immigrated to the capitol city from the far away provinces seeking employment.  For the homeless during the winter this means extreme hardship, for some homeless living in the sewers means warmth verses dealing with temperatures dropping as low as -25C mid- Winter. This year Mongolia has experienced the worst winter in 30 years.  (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

At night, they can only use candles for light.

ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA-MARCH 13 : Erdenetsetseg,36, drinks vodka sitting on a water pipe, also used as her bed living in a sewer filled with garbage  March 13 2010  in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Erdenetsetseg moved to the capitol city from a province five years ago, without work she collects cans and bottles to make enough money to buy a little food and her daily fix of vodka.  Since 70 years of communist rule ended in 1990, Mongolia has become one of the most pro-business countries. While economic reforms have brought prosperity to Ulaan Baatar, there still widespread unemployment, some used to work in the now defunct state industries. Approximately over 35% of Mongolians live below the poverty line, many unable to buy basic food needed to survive. Social problems include depression, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime. Mongolia suffers with a very high number of alcoholics, all consuming cheap Mongolian vodka that is readily available to the poor and the unemployed, Many Mongolians have immigrated to the capitol city from the far away provinces seeking employment.  For the homeless during the winter this means extreme hardship, for some homeless living in the sewers means warmth verses dealing with temperatures dropping as low as -25C mid- Winter. This year Mongolia has experienced the worst winter in 30 years. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

Drinking alcohol has become their only pleasure.

Comments from Tiexue:

251278745:

Everyone don’t be unreasonably arrogant, China isn’t lacking in such poor people either.

眼镜鱼:

Beijing isn’t lacking either — If you have the chance, go to the Beijing Film Academy campus gates and look under the manhole covers…

华夏毛小哥:

Come back, Mongolians! Great and proud China hopes you guys can come back once again!

国魂1937:

I don’t care whether or not the country is ready to go to war, nor do I care about how many corrupt officials have been caught, I only want to say: Until the issue/problem of the poor people who are the vast majority of the population worrying about their children’s education costs, having a place to live, medical care, their basic survival and dignity is solved, all [other] problems are not problems.

“While meat and wine go to waste inside vermillion gates, the poor freeze outside” [while the rich and powerful waste, the poor are suffering]. I hope in this so-called civilized times, I hope there will no longer be so many poor and long-suffering people dying in the cold winds.

糖葫芦367:

I get the feeling that this will give our beggars and homeless in China an idea…

ymlshpa:

The Soviet Union is good! The Communist International/Comitern is good! Choybalsan is good! At least China doesn’t have people living in sewers! Now even if you random leftovers wanted to come back, old grandpa [China] wouldn’t want you!
Only need to say one thing:
Get lost! Wretches! Bastards!

antihunter001:

Having depended on the Soviet Union, shouldn’t their lives be blissful? Why are they complaining about being poor now? It was their own choice. The Chinese-hating Neo-Nazis are also their peers [Mongolians].

武以安邦:

I’m wondering if someone is going to says “Look at them, definitely not China, living in sewers and yet no one does anything [no chengguan]. So democratic.”

zhb1986:

Once this is exposed, I bet they won’t even have sewers to live in.

铁血勇士07:

This kind of stuff happens in foreign countries too? Then for China to have this kind of problem is very normal!

贫僧吃荤:

Back then, they insisted on independence! Now they’re poor to the extreme! Everyday shouting that they are Genghis Khan’s descendants, yet they themselves have discarded their Mongolian traditions! Only Inner Mongolia has kept their original traditions!

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

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