Who needs a van anyway?

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

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Where I stayed

Flag of Bulgaria  , Sofia Region,
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 7 begins with the poor little van refusing to start again, it must have a cold.  Undeterred Chrissy, Pete, Beccy and Rich grabbed boxes of blankets and t-shirts and walked the short distance to Skravena Roma Community without a translator, brave or what?  So with much gesticulating, smiling, waving and people talking louder and slower in their respective languages (not helpful!) we gave out blankets to the families and t-shirts to the older boys who had not had presents when we visited earlier in the week.  Despite no common language we had great fun with the families and at a mere glimpse of the camera we had more people posing for photos than you could shake a stick at!  It's amazing how much you can find out without words - Chrissy 'spoke' to a lady who had 5 kids - 3 boys and 2 girls, one of the boys had grown up and left the community, Chrissy told her about her kids too ... These people live in extreme poverty - on the UN Human Development Index they are on an equal ranking with those living in sub-saharan Africa; yet even without words we find common ground with them.  A young boy named Mitko followed us up the snowy hill pushing his bike and chatting to us as we went on a little walk up to the monastery to see the views over the village.

Having earlier pushed the van into the sunshine to defrost, it now starts, woop woop!  We pick up the rest of the team and make our way to Razliv orphanage.  The kids are waving and running around the van as soon as we pull up; ice was not the only traffic hazard to contend with!  The kids all settled down to watch Pete show them some tricks but we soon found they gave him a run for his money; a few budding experts were in the midst.  And a new addition to the act... a hush descended as Pete started juggling with enormous knives - you could have heard a pin drop.  Presents then given out were excitedly received and rapidly unwrapped; anything edible instantly scoffed.  The kids all share their sweets round and gleefully show each other their new toys.  We played with the older and younger kids outside, sliding around on the ice and ... drumroll... Pete's piece de resistance - fire juggling! Needless to say it went down an absolute treat! 

Last stop of the day - Vidrare, an orphanage for children and young people with serious mental and physical disabilities who in this society are total outcasts.  Two years ago this orphanage had been a place of serious concern to the team who had visited then.  Today the head carer showed us around, including the light sensory and physio rooms on the tour.  We had so much admiration on entering the critical room for the staff who care for the most severely handicapped children; how do you wash and dress a child whose spinal and limb deformities are so severe that they look as though they are folded up? 

Despite all the difficulties facing Vidrare it is clear that the staff are truly dedictaed to these children. We were treated to a rehearsal performance of three songs by the Vidrare "choir" and it was a real joy to see and hear the kids clearly having such a great time.

The evening sees Rich, Niki and Pete back in Sofia to deliver Christmas boxes to Lora Foundation. It was a real joy to see Lora again (if you haven't already checked out www.lorafoundation.co.za then I urge you to take a look). Lora was full of joy and life and after the terrible couple of years the Louwe family have had it was great to see them in such good spirits. Then it was time to head back over the mountains to Botevgrad with a load more boxes for our eagerly anticipated vist to Lipnitsa Orphanage/School tomorrow. Can't wait...

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Peter from Woodfalls Methodists on

Just to say thank you for the whole blog and for the pics. Very informative and
very moving. I would like to pinch your para on visit to Pastor Georgi and the
photo to put in our January notices as part of the thank you to those who
contributed boxes. Is that OK, Rich? Blessings for the remainder of this year's
trip. Peter

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