Roaring along

Trip Start Dec 10, 2012
Trip End Dec 22, 2012

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Flag of Bulgaria  ,
Monday, December 17, 2012

After a relaxed weekend (just some boxes delivered to Botevgrad Methodist Church, a new lad delivered to our House of Opportunity in Skravena and some furniture shifted out of the Sofia office; oh, and tow-starting Niki's car, again) we were back into the swing of things with a road trip to see our friends Gancho and Milena at World Without Borders in Stara Zagora, the Gabrovo projects and also to drop in on the House of Opportunity at Ruse, among other places.

After a somewhat confusing couple of hours at the warehouse we finally managed to get the vans loaded and began to push our way through the mist and murk to Stara Zagora. There we met the team from WWB who had organised some vists to different places to deliver boxes. First off we had to pick up the deputy mayor and then we visted a home for adults with learning disorders and mental health issues. It was a real joy to meet the residents and give them each a present. The home consists of two houses next to each other, one for ladies and one for men, with 10 residents in each. Most of the residents have jobs locally and the manager and her team clearly spend a lot of time building a family atmosphere where each individual feels at home.

Then we roared south to Radnevo where with the help of Andy the Lion (actually a volunteered teen lad known to the WWB team) we gave boxes to children who had been resuced from dangerous domestic situations. There was much excitement as each child received thier gift from the King of Beasts! Wearing a green leotard. Don't ask...

Then we visited a Roma kindergarten project where Gancho encouraged the families present to keep sending thier children to learn at the kindergarten. One of WWB's main projects is a kindergarten in a huge Roma community in Stara Zagora so they are very eager to encourage Roma people to commit their children to receiving an education. So many Roma kids never finish school (only 11% of Roma kids start secondary education) leading directly to huge unemployment (80-90%) among this group and a cycle of poverty that drags down each new generation. WWB's work both in education and health care (funded by Trussell Trust) is groundbreaking and has far reaching consequences for the individuals that benefit from it: Like one little girl whose dad refused to let her go to the kindergarten because he didn't want her to learn Bulgarian. This is common and many girls are trapped by these attitudes throughout Eastern Europe. Thankfully the team were able to get the girl into the k'garten. The health project often catches women with life threatening conditions; one lady thought she was pregnant but in fact had a huge tumour which thankfully was discovered by the WWB team while it was still operable.

After this the vans picked their way over Shipka pass through the snow and fog to Gabrovo to drop off boxes to the FSCI projects team there. After a well received meal we dropped in on the protected youyth home that FSCI/Trussell Trust runs in the city to give presents to the residents and chat into the late evening.

Tomorrow we head to Ruse but for now we welcome our pillows...
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