Jumpers for goal posts

Trip Start Jul 22, 2013
Trip End Aug 03, 2013

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Flag of Bulgaria  , Montana,
Friday, August 2, 2013

Actually we have real goal posts but as you can see from the pics the pitch leaves a fair bit to be desired!  

Yesterday I mentioned the lack of education among the young men in the prison but not all them have never been to school. I met Kolyo and Peter, two lads who attended Lipnitsa Orphanage/School, which some of you will know has had a long relationship with The Trussell Trust, going back all the way our establishment in 1997. Both of these guys are serving short sentences for theft. Their first home was the old Roma community in Botevgrad that was bulldozed back in 2010. They both remember going to summer camps at Kranevo with us when they were small. I can't help feeling sad that these boys have ended up here but it is hardly surprising when you stop and think about where they are from and what their opportunities are. For most young men growing up in Roma communities the future has a certain inevitability about it; joblessness, poverty and crime. I asked them what they are going to do when they get out. Kolyo says he will "look for a job". This will be very hard for him to find. Jobs are not easy to come by in Bulgaria at present and who will employ a Roma kid with a prison record? Peter says he “go and live in Vienna with my mum”. I don’t need to ask what his mum does for a living.

We had a tour of the prison yesterday and Mr Petrov told us that most of the boys here would prefer to stay when their sentence was finished. He thought that if the prison gates were thrown open about 70% of the inmates would choose to remain inside rather than have to fend for themselves on the other side of the walls. I believe him. Food, bed, activities, education; everything is provided here. The only thing missing for these guys is girls! The fact is that most of these guys will end up in adult prison, having committed more crime, where life is a lot harder. Their lives are set, even at this young age. We have been able, in a small way, to come along side these young guys and through a bit of football we have shown them that there are people who care on the outside. I’m not sure what the next step is yet but we’ll see where God leads. With His help perhaps we can offer some of these young men a chance at a better life.

Our last evening at the hotel with our young people from HOP was spent around a small bonfire with sausages being cooked on sticks and music being flicked through and sometimes listened to on the sound system. The kids have had a great time here and it was heartening to hear how the expectations for their time here had been met and even exceeded. We have shot some video and the young people will be able to tell you themselves through this just what the week and HOP means to them. It’s not ready yet but it will be on out Bulgaria web-page soon.

It has been a stunning week with so much laughter and fun. Everybody has really enjoyed the experience and I want to say thank you to everyone for their prayers and support. We will be doing something like this again, I am sure, and after spending time with the young men in Boychinovtsi prison it seems clearer that we will working more here in the future, offering an alternative to the life of crime and imprisonment that awaits so many of these lads. As our coaches, Angus and Chris would say- push forward!

Rich Parsons
Bulgaria Operations Manager (UK)
The Trussell Trust

It would not have been possible without:

Tedi Koleva
Nik Zlatev
Yani Nedelcheva
Vera Georgieva
Veneta Todorova
Christov Gichev

Valya Stankovska
Bogi Tropchev

UK team
Rob Aston
Chris Bishop
Chris Garvey
Rich Haydon
Fran Mathers
Angus Scully

A massive thank you to you all!
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