Some things never change.

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

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Flag of Bulgaria  ,
Friday, December 21, 2012

Skravena Roma Community is a collection of ramshackle huts on the edge of the village. The people that live there scrape an existence at the margins of society. The men can be seen driving their horse and carts all over the area, looking for wood to burn in the stoves at home and stuff to recycle for an income. In the winter weather, fuel is a priority. The children are wild-haired and filthy. Some attend the local school and will have received a Christmas box already but today we are bringing boxes for the rest of this community, along with some blankets for the babies.

There is quite a bit of snow on the ground and the community looks deserted but a couple of the men are just returning and they soon stir up the other familes who all come out and flock around the van. With the crucial help of long-time local translator Valya the team begin to give out shoeboxes. This sort of distribution can be tricky and a bit disturbing for anyone who has not witnessed one before. There are usually raised voices and jostling among the families but today the cold seems to have sapped their energy and the husbands, wives and kids wait relatively quietly (this is a Roma community after all; shouting is a way of life) for Valya, Rich P, Nick and Laura to find the right present for each person.

Many of the kids only have one layer on; one has no shoes. It is very cold and we are warm in our hats and coats but every year we see that these people still live in conditions that would be unbearable if you suddenly found yourself having to endure them. Millions of Roma, right throughout Eastern Europe, live like this and know no other way of life. The Trussell Trust works with other organisations in a small but growing way to support projects that will bring an improvement in the qaulity of life for Roma people. Hopefully an increasing number of young Roma people will be able to escape a life of grinding deprivation through these intiatives. Today provides a reminder that there are large numbers of children growing up in communities like this one in Skravena; marginalised, ostracised, vilified even. There is a lot more to do.

This is our last post form the 2012 Christmas box trip. We have had a challenging but successful trip with more presents than ever before being given to children and families all across Bulgaria. None of this would be possible without the tremendous support of our donors in the UK (both of boxes and time) and the team in Bulgaria. Thank you for all your support; you have helped to spread a lot of joy among some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Eastern Europe.

I want to thank the Bulgaria team; Niki, Tedi, Vera, Nick, Valya, Vicki, Toshko and Chris.

The UK contingent: Laura and Rich Haydon (who has shot a lot of film- should be good).

Thanks for reading,

Rich Parsons
Bulgaria Ops Manager (UK)
The Trussell Trust

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Val on

It was wonderful being able to see the results of all your hard work, also to read the blog. This is the first time we as a family have donated shoe boxes, but it certainly will not be the last, and in future will ensure that they are for a larger age range, as they were all for children in 2012. Carry on the good work.

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