Andre came with us as we drove to give out boxes at a nearby orphanage for children aged 9 - 18. Here we were joined by twins Bobby and Sevko, residents from our 18+ House of Opportunity in Gabrovo
. These young men have all been abandoned themselves and they were delighted at being able to give out Christmas Boxes and play with the kids. There were some pretty noisy games of table football, games, singing and dancing but the most striking thing was the joy and excitement of the occasion. The children at the orphanage couldn't wait to open their boxes, with some peeking inside before they had been told they could open them. Then there was lots of fun as they looked though what was inside, eating the sweets and showing their friends what they got.
After saying 'ciao' to the children at the orphanage, Bobby and Sevko took us to The Trussell Trust House of Opportunity to show us where they live. Speaking to them and to Pastor Rumen who runs the house was inspirational. The twins were so full of life, making jokes (and tea), welcoming us in and you can tell from from their interactions that Pastor Rumen has been a huge role model for them. He treats them like his own sons and is so loving and encouraging of them. It really was a joy to see. Today has been all about hope and joy. It sounds a bit cheesy but it's true.
Driving through blizzards and freezing temperatures we arrived in the city of Gabrovo by lunchtime. Today has been very long, but it's also been incredibly impactful. First we gave out Christmas Shoeboxes to the residents of our Gabrovo youth centre for abandoned young people aged 16 - 18. They were such lovely polite teenagers that it's hard to imagine the horrors of abandonment and orphanages that have formed their early years. After giving out the boxes I asked Andre, 18, what it was like to live in our youth centre, he said: 'it's so much better than the orphanage. We're more independent, I'm much less stressed, we have people who help us here - even the furniture is better!'.