Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Толгойт Халуун Ус - Bathing in Tolgoit

Many of the students I have met at this college live in nearby Tolgoit, a western peri-urban informal settlement of Ulaanbaatar. There are two main community bathing houses there in the 3rd Khoroo (informal village) of our Songinokhairkhan district, so when I was invited by the Gender Centre for Sustainable Development there, I was interested in visiting one, with regard to accessibility. (website unreliable - alternatively see this.)

Миний ярилцаж байсан коллежийн ихэнх оюутнууд Улаанбаатарын баруун хэсэгт орших хагас хотожсон суурин болох Толгойтод амьдардаг. Сонхинохайрхан дүүргийн 3-р хороонд хоёр нийтийн халуун усны газар байдаг. Нийгмийн Хөгжлийн Жендер Төвөөс намайг тэнд урьсан. Би бүх хүмүүст нээлттэй эсэхийг мэдэхээр нэгэнд нь очиж үзэхээр болсон. (вебсайт боломжгүй байгаа тул эндээс үз.)

Bayarsgalan and Enebish (of GCSD) met me punctually at our college and we drove to Chimbat's bath-house, the newer of the two, where the community NGO had secured a room - donated by the proprietor - to be adapted for 'universal accessibility'. Encouragingly, the community workers had sourced and photocopied the Mongolian Norm MN 301-04-01. Chimbat herself and a staff member watched as we inspected the tiled 2.3 x 2.6 metre room she was offering for the project. Currently there is a hand-shower in one corner (with a high mounting) and a wooden duckboard.

Баясгалан Энэбиш (НХЖТ-ийн) хоёр надтай манай коллеж дээр цагтаа уулзаадЧинбатын халуун ус руу машинаар очсон. Тэндхийн эзэн нь хандивласан нэг өрөөг ТББ-нхан хүн бүрт хүртээмжтэй өрөө болгохоор авчихсан байсан. Мэргэжилтэнгүүд Монголын стандарт MN 301-04-01-ийг үндэслэсэн байсан ба түүнчлэн хуулбарыг нь байрлуулсан байсан. Чинбатын төсөлд зориулж өгсөн 2.3 x 2.6 хэмжээтэй өрөөг биднийг хянаж байхад тэр ажилтантайгаа мөн тэнд байсан. Өрөөний нэг буланд гар угаагч болоод шалан дээр тавьдаг модон хавтан байсан.

Certainly some wall hooks would be useful, but Bayarsgalan's proposal for a new bath and an internal wall and seemed ambitious, especially when I learned of a nine-day deadline, and negligible budget. The access to the centre entrance up steps and over a 150mm high pipe in the corridor would present greater accessibility challenges. (At 1:12, over 3m of temporary ramps, which could also present a lifting hazard for staff..) I explained that enlarging the 680mm door opening would involve considerable business disruption and some skilled labour or supervision in order to replace it with a wider one. Textured wall guide strips for blind users may be given a lower budgetary priority, given the narrow corridor width. I reflected on my own bathroom adaptations when I was temporarily wheelchair bound. Perhaps some reliable secured handrails would be a practical adaptation.

Ханын өлгүүрүүд тэнд байх нь дээр боловч Баярбаясгалан зөвхөн шинэ банн болоод тусгаарлах хана санал болгож байсан. Сүүлийн хугацаа нь 9 хоног бас санхүү бараг байхгүй гэдгийг нь би мэдээд түүнийг өөрийн сонирхолын төлөө байгааг ойлгосон. Орох замд 150мм-ийн өндөртэй усны хоолой байдаг нь хүмүүст саад болдог. ( хэрэв 3м-н урттай байнгын бус налуу шат байрлуулбал үүнийг зөөхөд ажилчдад хэцүү байх болно). Хаалгыг 680м болгон өргөтгөвөл бизнесд таатай бус төдийгүй энэ тохиолдолд ажиллаж чадах ажилчид хэрэг шаардагдах болно гэж би тайлбарласан. Хараагүй хүмүүст зориулсан тэмтэрж болох барзгар хана, өргөн багатай коридор зэргийг тэд чухал шаардлагатай бус төсөвт оруулж магалгүй байсан. Би тэргэнцэртэй байсан үеэ эргэн санаад магадгүй бариул байх нь илүү тохиромжтой гэж бодсон. (to be continued soon)

It seemed time and money limitations might work against the potential for a community project for vocational students, but I suggested a proposal be put forward to local people and students to engender participation over a longer period. I was told that some research on disability and accessibility needs in the area had already been done. Could a user be found, I now persisted, who might be consulted before and after the alterations, and who might collaborate as a future champion / advocate for a wider programme- I was lobbying for grassroots participation. Next, spontaneously, I was taken to visit a local person with disability.

(Mongolian version to be continued...)

The car was parked a few dusty blocks away at a Ger compound, with a ramshackle building. The ubiquitous guard dogs in this case were mere pups and a dusty mop of a terrier. We passed a ger with children sitting outside in the gravelly yard, and approached Enkhsaikhan's shack. I followed into the dirt floored lobby over a high wooden threshold and then stepped up into a darkened but richly furnished room, with carpets and tiered suitcases, as is customary. Enkhsaikhan a man who looked about thirty, was lying on a bed in a corner with only his head visible. Introductions were made, and when no limb was extended from under his bedsheet I firmly touched his shoulder in an attempt at greeting. I was told the man had no arms and legs. But later in the conversation about the bathhouses, including Khataanbaatar's, where he had previously worked, he showed an arm with amputated fingers. Two young boys sat and listened. Enkhsaikhan said that in his opinion the main issue for the bath house was the water temperature and the hard water due to a shallow well. He bathed weekly at Khataanbaatar's, separately from his able seven year old son, who currently was sitting at the foot of the bed. He did not feel he could comment on wheelchair accessibility, as he had (understandable given the environment, I thought) rarely used the wheelchair he had been given. It reminded me of winter here (...December blog) when afterwards I heard that the man had previously been sleeping rough in the cold, alcohol afflicted, before the amputations to his hands and feet for frostbite.

(Mongolian version to be continued...)

3 comments:

nomadologist said...

see also these comments

nomadologist said...

Thanks Cheryl for your email note:
"I am fascinated by the accessibility issues and your visit, recently, to the bathhouse. I am very interested in what it means to make architectural and design tools available to non government and non business folks. How would they design their own spaces?

Last week I worked very hard producing alternative designs for a site in the centre of town here in Clarkson (part of larger Mississauga). RioCan (owners of about 2200 shopping centres in Canada) want to redevelop the site. Their focus and driver was a big box store. Also along for the ride is Chartwell (owner of 250 seniors homes in Canada). So these are the big boys and the townspeople did not like what was being presented - a big box motif with 7 storey seniors building perched on the edge, lots of surface parking. I spent about 40 hours doing up 8 alternatives for the first meeting. They liked #4 so I developed about 4 iterations of it for the next meeting. What people wanted was underground parking and a plaza. We had the big meeting with all the big guns, including the commissioner of planning for the city of Mississauga. And, you know, all that design work and all that visual rep in 3ds Max and Photoshop, probably made the difference. It moved the discussion from 'no' on both sides to 'how do we implement this?'. It demonstrated to me the importance of getting the tools and a rational way of thinking about design out to the community, to the ordinary folk, so that they have a voice when the big boys come to the table with their architect, and planner, and urban designer, and lawyer etc.

I can't wait to hear more about this past year once you have had time to think and reflect from a bit of a distance."

samraat said...

sangambayard-c-m.com