Just keep on moving...

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
Trip End Dec 19, 2009

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Flag of Bulgaria  , Oblast Sofiya-Grad,
Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today was mostly spent on the road as we had to travel back to Botevgrad later in the day to deliver some boxes to the Methodist Church there. Pastor Georgi is a long standing friend of the Trust who has worked for many years to help the less fortunate in that town. Despite being in his late 60's and looking after his wife who is very ill he still finds time to run a church and to open the doors of his building to let it be used for a meeting place for local people with disabilities. Pastor Georgi can remember the persecution the church in Bulgaria suffered under communism but it is now really encouraging to see so many churches at the forefront of social care programmes here, playing their part in protecting the vulnerable and comforting those who are suffering.

We have used the Methodist Church as a distribution point for some years now. The pastor knows the neighbourhood very well and knows those families and elderly people who have very low incomes. They are invited to come, with no strings attached, and just simply take a box away. Most of the people in the area are not Roma but regular Bulgarians. Many are elderly and have a very tough existence. Retirement is not really an option as there is very little state provision so you have to keep active and find ways to make sure that you have enough to eat. Gardens are full of veg and many people keeps chickens or a pig as a matter of necessity so these gifts are again very well received.

Before we left for Botevgrad however, we had been invited back to the small "upper room" in Moderno Predgradie to give out boxes to the children that were being fed there. Once again we were touched but just how much the people here care for the children of this neighbourhood. Pavel, Maria, Danny and friends truly care about the kids here and much of their time is spent either meeting needs or trying to teach the children about the dangers of drugs, crime and sexual activity. Many of the local children will live in homes where the dad will be unemployed and trying to find casual work or be involved with criminality and where mum is a prostitute. Our Christmas boxes spread a little joy once again and we pray that God will give Pavel and Maria the strength to continue- most people would have given up in the face of such odds long ago.

After skating our way along the slippery highway over the mountains to Botevgrad and back we actually managed to finish the day at a reasonable time and relax in the evening. The team here really do appreciate your thoughts and prayers and we are very thankful that we have managed to keep safe and (almost) well. Sunday is coming and we have a big plan for the day. We are going to do nothing.

Trams, communism and the law of diminishing returns in regards to passengers...

How do trams make a profit? Designed to carry a carless population during the communist era these things, unable to pull over to the side of the road, ply the streets in a never ending search for people willing enough to risk life and limb to leap into traffic in a desperate attempt to reach the beckoning open doors of the tram. Despite relying on a consumer base made entirely of people with no sense of self preservation there are those who make it onto the trams. This allows them to work up the nerve to get off again. The tram doors open and passengers bolt from the doors like pheasants flushed from a copse, people running across three lanes of traffic in a mad dash for the safety of the pavement (although even there you may get taken out by motorcyclist’s, who regard a pavement as an excellent place to make progress because of all the lumbering trams in the road). Many tram travellers simply assume that traffic will stop for them if they just step out into the road and up to a point this works, but I can’t help wondering how many people are injured or killed every year in Sofia trying to catch a ride for the next few city blocks. Surely that can’t be enough people around now to make these things viable- you rarely see a full one...
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