It can be very cold in the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia. Late one autumn, when Magpi was three years old, she crept out of the family Ger feeling cold. She lay over the still warm charcoal fire to warm herself up and fell asleep. When she woke up she was no longer the energetic active girl she once was. The brain damage caused by monoxide poisoning and inhaling charcoal dust was considerable. During the second of two visits to the hospital in Ulaanbaatar two visiting French doctors said the there was nothing they or anyone could do for her. The brain damage left Magpi unable to walk or use her left hand and arm and although she has some speech and her hearing is good, she has a learning disability.
She is 44 years old and lives with her younger brother and his wife and children in their Ger in summer and their wooden cabin in the long winter months. Every day is arduous and all the children and adults work hard and long to maintain their herds of goats and cattle. Magpi is happiest when there are people around her or sitting close to the fire drinking tea. Her younger brother Serik and his wife Aygul both take care of Magpi and clearly she is very fond of them. Magpi likes to play with the children Jansaya who is 13 years old and 5 year old Janerke, but scolds them when they get too noisy. Other extended family members in nearby Gers help out and make socks for her or entertain her when they can spare time away from their relentless and often brutal lives.
Life is never easy for the family or Magpi. Her toilet is not far away from the front of the Ger and consists of a hole in the ground covered by a cardboard lid. Because she sleeps in her clothes and pulls herself along the ground outside she can get dirty. Some European tourists saw her and scolded Serik for not taking care of her. He was mortified and deeply upset by this.
The photographs taken in the wooden building, which is their winter home, over a 30 minute period show the ups and downs of her of her emotional life. Just like everyone else she has a mixture of good and bad experiences in her quiet life.