Girls in jail...

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

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Flag of Bulgaria  , Oblast Sofiya-Grad,
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday saw the team split to do different jobs after an initial delivery of boxes to Animus, a Bulgarian NGO that houses women who have been trafficked or have suffered domestic abuse. The director told us that they assist between two and three hundred women a year plus any children they may have. Animus are funded by grant making bodies and receive no government or municipal help despite trafficking being such a big problem in Bulgaria and one of the core reasons The Trussell Trust is so eager to build a network of projects like the House of Joshua. We want to be able to prevent young state care leavers finding themselves at the mercy of traffickers and learning vital life skills and gaining employment are the keys to this. At the present Bulgarian society simply has to pick up the pieces of wrecked lives but this is still not a priority as many of the victims are Roma or very poor Bulgarians and as such are not valued. What is one more ruined life for a society that has so long ignored the issues? There are many Bulgarians working hard to change this attitude and part of our job is to help and support them as they make the case for a fairer and more inclusive Bulgaria where young people especially are valued and helped whatever their background. The director told us how impressed her staff were with the quality of the Christmas boxes that we donated to them last year and how happily the women and children received them. She too wants to say a big thank you to all our donors.

Then it was time to split the team with Mimi, Lizzie and Sophia going to prison for the afternoon! A team from Tedy's church had organised a party for some of the children whose dad’s are in Sofia prison. These dad’s are part of a reform group and we gladly gave some boxes so that these guys would have something to give their children at the party. The event was sensitively organised so that before the dad’s were allowed in to see their families they were given boxes with their children’s names marked on them so that as they were reunited with their loved ones they could present their families with the gifts, restoring a little self respect for guys who have hit rock bottom and in many cases have years to serve on their sentences. This was a really touching time; to see these guys with their kids and for them to be able to give them gifts was really special.

Tedy, Vallya and Rich braved the traffic for yet another run to the warehouse and then a vist to Gorna Baniya orphanage to distribute to the children living there. Gorna is a suburb on the southwest of Sofia that has a real mix of rich and poor residents and the orphanage is a large building very close to one of Bulgaria’s largest water bottling plants. Here we gave out some more presents to some very excited kids who eagerly looked through the contents of the boxes to show what they had received. This was the first regular orphanage that would not allow us to take pics of the kids but trust me when I say that the kids were very happy with their shoeboxes. More satisfied customers!

After this the last visit of the day was to Jack Louwe of the Lora Foundation . Lora have been working in Bulgaria for many years. Jack and his wife Elsabe have an amazing story and I urge you to check it out for yourselves at Prepare to be stunned. We have supplied gifts for the orphanages that Lora have been supporting for the last few years and it is always good to catch up with them each Christmas. Please pray for Jack, Elsabe and Lora who have had a genuinely traumatic year with serious illness and criminal attacks to contend with. They need your prayerful support especially with a court case coming up which will be very hard for the whole family to face as Lora’s attackers are brought to face trial.

We know that our God is good but sometimes we all ask, "Why is this allowed to happen?" "How can God say He is love when there is so much suffering in the world?"The truth is all the suffering that we see in Bulgaria or anywhere else is caused by mankind’s unlimited capacity to cause hurt and pain. We are called to be His hand and feet in a suffering world and if as a Christian I ignore this call how can I ever look those who are suffering in the eye and say “God loves you”? I believe that God does love each and every person on planet Earth and that there is no one that cannot be reached by Him.

Not guys in prison.

Not women carrying the burden of large families in dysfunctional Roma communities.

Not young children left by their families in orphanages because of disabilities the state claims are untreatable.

Not young girls working the streets and suffering the degradations of life as a prostitute.

Not the refugee trapped in a system that doesn’t care.

Not the young orphanage leaver abandoned by the state and thrown out of the only family they have known.

Not the kid on the street running drugs for criminals who consider them expendable.

Not the girls taken off the streets and trafficked across Europe to be sold into slavery in London, Berlin or Paris.

No one.
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