Here we snow again

Trip Start Dec 09, 2010
Trip End Dec 22, 2010

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday brings even more snow and a bright clear morning.  As we wait at the House of Joshua for the other van to arrive, Pete tests out his new paraffin...cue trial fire juggling!  Watch this space... 

After a little bit of ferrying boxes between the two vans we sit down to make up some extra presents for teenage boys. So with a busy day ahead, we put the extra presents on the van and the team splits in two with Pete, Valya and Niki going to Sofia to load up with more boxes before heading off to Vratsa.  Here the team dropped off boxes with a few mother and baby group and also at an orphanage - the older kids especially loved Mr Big's juggling and were really enthusiastic about joining in, before doing a final drop off at an Orthodox Church - these boxes will be given to a local adult prison for men.

Meanwhile, the other team, Miryana, Chrissy, Rich and Beccy, went North to Montana where the first stop was a Roma Church linked with Breakthrough Christian Centre in Sofia.  The Church was in an upstairs room above the pastors house and the team received a very warm welcome in the form of a play about God's gifts to us all which was really lovely. Presents were given out to the children who live in the very poor local area and then we talked to the pastors wife who told us about their work with the local orphanage in Berkovitsa.

Next we had a sobering visit to a juvenile prison for boys age 14-18 where we gave them the 66 extra gifts we had made up. We were shown around the prison and met some of the boys; many of them receive the first education they have ever had whilst they're there. This is the only institution of it's kind in Bulgaria, meaning that the boys come from all over the country - visits from family are rare due to the cost of travelling, in the whole prison there are 2 visits a week. The simple presnts that we left for them will be given out by Joseph (effectively the chaplain) at the Christmas celebration when the boys will perform a play. 

We end the day with a lively visit to Berkovitsa orphanage for kids age 7-18.  We were again received with warmth and smiles from the younger and older kids alike.  This orphanage has been transformed in recent years with the help of the church we visited earlier today - the kids were eager to show us around and play with their new gifts.  One of the girls from this orphanage, Ivanka, now lives in the Trussell Trust's House of Joshua and the staff are so pleased that she is able to do so.  The kids at the orphanages crave attention and affection, as soon as we come in they are asking for cuddles and holding our hands. Some of the children gave a recital and dance performance and then it was time to give out the Chritsmas boxes- lots of excitement and happiness all round!

Berkovitsa has a history of tragedy and scandal but now seems to be changing in a positive way. The number of childen living here has halved in the last two years and a new building where smaller groups of children can live in a more family like atmosphere is nearing completion. Your shoeboxes were eagely anticipated and gratefully received/played with/eaten. Great fun.

The trip home proved to be a bit of a challenge as when we emerged from the orphanage it was snowing hard and we had 100km to cover. Bulgaria does not come to a halt because of a bit of snow so despite some hairy moments we made it back to Botevgrad without having to spend the night on some lightly iced highway.

Tomorrow we have a Roma community to re-visit, a drop off to make at Lora Foundation and two orphanages to visit, all being well. But you know what happens to best laid plans...

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