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Clean Water, Cheer for a Brighter Tomorrow

Jacobs’ Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project team reaches out into the community to support development in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. 

In the center of Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar, approximately 87 children, between the ages of two and 16 call Unur Bul Orphanage home.

Nearly 500 miles away, deep in the remote southern end of the Gobi Desert lies one of the world’s best copper-gold ore bodies – Oyu Tolgoi. The largest ever project investment in Mongolian history, the Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project (OT) is expected to produce an average of 560,000 tonnes of copper a year once operational.

Jacobs is serving as the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) partner for the OT project and, since 2017, has also served as a community partner of the Unur Bul Orphanage, bringing a sense of belonging to the children and helping them feel valued within the local community.

Tap water in the region is not always safe to drink, and bottled water can pose as an expensive challenge for some families and charitable organizations. When the OT team first learned that the children sometimes had to wait up to one hour for a glass of safe drinking water, due to the time taken for it boil and cool down, Jacobs employees set out to raise money to buy water purifiers through personal donations and a cake sale at the Brisbane, Australia office. 

With clean drinking water in place, the OT team set out to inspire learning and sharing through play at Unur Bul, donating a playhouse and many toys last Christmas.

“Turning up on Christmas eve and giving out the gifts was a very rewarding day and it was a great sight to see smiles and a sense of joy on their faces. I have a happy lasting memory of watching at least 10 of the children trying to squeeze into a playhouse designed for four of them. There was no pushing or shoving; they were all just so excited to get inside it,” said Jacobs OT Project Support Services Manager Wayne Thomson. “We cannot bring back their families, but what can we do is make their current situation feel more like a home and help them to feel part of a new family.”

As the Jacobs OT team’s relationship with the orphanage continued to grow, they learned that the sleeping room for the 20 children ages two to five required renovations.

Led by the vision of creating a safe and colorful space for the children, the team got to work to come up with a design for the room and adjoining bathroom, procure necessary items, arrange contractors and organize team members to help oversee the project. Before considering the job complete, the team of Jacobs OT volunteers returned to Unur Bul to decorate the room, which included painting a beautiful art design on the walls.

Remembering the children’s excitement when they saw their new room, “Not only has it given me a different outlook on life, but it has made me realize how little of an effort it takes to help those in need and how little it takes to make children smile,” said Jacobs OT HR Coordinator Enkhjin Gankhuu. “It feels really nice to know that Jacobs has helped these kids’ bedroom feel like an actual home, as it is their only home, but more importantly to add a smile to their faces which is a feeling more rewarding than anything else.”

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