Project Expansion

We had a very important meeting this week with Tseesuren, our friend and embroidery partner in the Peace Corps Merit Badge project. We don't get to meet with her very often since she lives hours away in a small village, though we do get to see and work with her daughter Enkhnara every day here in the capital city of our province.

The project has expanded much larger and more quickly than we had anticipated, requiring all of us to adapt and think of new ways to approach this unique service project with its many business aspects. As you can imagine, communication here can be challenging and even more so when you consider how quickly Volunteers and translators come and go along the way. We are in the process of making this project sustainable for many years to come, allowing people around the world to order and pay for badges online, for those orders and payments to be transmitted easily and accurately, and for the products to then be shipped and in the hands of the customer within a reasonable amount of time. As you know we originally thought our market was a couple of Volunteers in Mongolia, we now know our market is tens of thousands of people around the world. We have currently sold over 300 badges and just received an order for 150 badges from the National Peace Corps Association and this is very literally just the beginning.

Tseesuren and Enkhnara got involved with this project as a favor to us, a few Volunteers who wanted some nifty little pieces of Mongolian felt to remind us of incredible adventures and wonderful memories. They have been very open-minded and had the vision themselves to allow this project to continue to grow, involved more embroiderers, family members and friends in the process and extended handshakes and hugs to people who want to join in. We are talking about a small and meaningful idea that is growing into a big and more powerful idea. By doing the small things right, by keeping this project about the individuals and the small communities that it impacts, we will do the big things right.

We are very lucky to have a strong and dedicated team that loves each other, loves Mongolia and loves Peace Corps and with that at our back, we will always handle operational challenges like online transaction fees, website optimization, payment methods, shipping complications and merit badge design with a high level of humility, humor and fun. After all, this project always was for that purpose: to help people and have fun. It's wonderful to see it achieving both those goals every day.