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 Our first Delivery tothe Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008

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PostSubject: Our first Delivery tothe Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008   Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:00 am

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The Story So Far
Thursday, Nov 13, 2008

Our Donation to Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008




Chapter 1 Going back to Silistra


It all started last year, Dougie and I, Berni decided we wanted to help our local Orphanage in Silistra. We asked our Bulgarian friend Nellie to get as much information as she could from the Orphanage Director for us, as she could act on our behalf. She explained that we wanted to help and asked him what it was that the children needed most. Then she told us, they need coats, jackets, winter shoes, boots, jumpers etc. When we got back to UK we decided to start collecting the stuff our self. We bought the clothes and stuff in the sales and at boot sales, from Ebay from warehouses, Tescos, Poundland shop, everywhere there was a bulk outlet. Then we told our family, who were only too glad to help. We have 10 grandchildren so you can imagine we had lots and lots of stuff from them. We also told our friends, who also joined in and the people at my work were just absolutely wonderful and help too. We also had wonderful stuff from our very good neighbours, and some good friends on the freecycle. So, as it happened, we had lots of good quality clean second hand and new stuff collected before long. We sorted boxes for the boys and girls in age groups from 6 to 18 as we picked it up, therefore, it was ready for transport. We were given all sorts of other stuff too, inc shampoos, makeup, games etc We were just amazed at how generous people are. They were all just wonderful. It got to the stage where people would not throw anything away without asking if we could use it. Each and everyone of them were just brilliant. Thanks a million guys you are all just wonderful.

Everything is ready and packed up waiting for Oggi to collect from UK and take to BG on Saturday. We have worked so hard collecting, boxing and sorting the stuff for the Silistra Orphanage. We have something for everyone. We have about 50 odd boxes of clothes, shoes, boots, coats, toy, play stations and games, a nintendo and games, video and film, story books, writing pads, pencils, toiletries for each child and a huge box of mixed stuff shampoos, gels, soaps, toothpaste and brushes, in fact everything they would need really and much more for the Orphanage. We also have various boxes of clothes, shopping trolleys, dishes, pots and pans glasses towels, cd's, dvd's bikes, skates and various other stuff for our friends in the village and their families in Silsitra. We have two cookers, one for Ginka D and some cupboards and a lovely set of saucepans. She knows nothing about these, so she will be well surprised. I can't wait to see her face. The other cooker and hob is for the community centre along with cupboards and work surface. The idea is that, when the women have concerts and events, in the hall, they can do all the preparing and cooking etc in one area, instead of everyone cooking and bringing stuff along. This way, they can all work together and not have to drag heavy bags with them through our awful dark roads. We also have various boxes of clothes and shoes for the men in the village and we can take them all to the centre at the same time.

Our son Lee and daughter in law Claire and our lovely neighbours Jack and Norma and friend James will oversee the loading of the lorry here in the UK and we will hopefully have help in BG unloading when it arrives next week.

We had planned on taking a trailer, which Dougie built from scratch. It cost a small fortune to build it. It was well built and looked great, now it was ready and waiting to be loaded. Two weeks before we were due to go to Bulgaria, Dougie said we should load it and try it out. We bought a jeep to haul it and to use in BG. It has to travel about 3000 miles, so no room for errors. We all set to work loaded the trailer, but soon it was jammed packed and we still had half as much left over. This was not good. It seems like we got too carried away with the collections. Our son Lee and friend James took the trailer out on a test drive, but soon returned stating it is way too heavy. Lee said he had difficulty in controlling it and it weighed a ton or more, therefore, Mum, would not be able to manage it unless we took half the load off but that was defeating our object. So we had to rethink our options. We decided we had 2 options, one: we buy a large box van and drive that over. However, I was not in favour of this option, as I have never driven a van before and due to Dougie's heart condition he could only drive for short distances, hours of driving would put too much pressure on him. The other options was to contact Oggi who owns a Bulgarian transport company. We have used Oggi before and he was very good, however, this option would be costly and as we were funding all of this our self, it would mean it comes from our savings, plus we would still have the cost of driving over to take our own jeep. We pondered over this for a while. All of 2 minutes hahaha!!! but needless to say, we opted for the latter. I really did not fancy driving a van, plus we also needed a vehicle out in Bulgaria and a van would be too costly to run.

I had to contact Oggi and ask him if he could fit us in at short notice - This he did, bless him, but of course at a price, as we now had 20cb mts of stuff. We sold the trailer on Ebay for a fraction of its cost. We had no choice really, we needed it out of the way before we left for BG. I booked Oggi on Wednesday before we left. He could fit us in for the Saturday 27th and we leave on the Friday 26th Sept. My next problem was how to pay him, as I could not take such a large amount of money by road, it would be too risky and Oggi's driver would have the same problem. So we decided on a bank transfer which, I did on the Thursday before I left. Also organised help for the lorry to be loaded. So now, after all the problems and setbacks we have had, we are finally ready to go to Silsitra at last and deliver our presents to the children and our friends. Christmas in October. Don't know who will be more excited us or the children friends

Oddy

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PostSubject: Our first Delivery tothe Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008   Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:03 am

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The 1st trip to the Orphanage. 17th Oct 2008



Today Thursday 17th Oct 2008 we are very excited as Nellie has organised with the Director for us to take the stuff in today. Our friends Debs came over in her estate car and Jerry came with her to help with transport of the boxes. We had our jeep loaded too, but we only had two cars, so the rest of the boxes would have to wait until we can sort them our later.

We loaded up and drove into Silsitra. When we got to the turnoff road for the orphanage there were 3 cars blocking the road off. Jerry got out and asked the security man could we pass, but he said no, he cannot help us, there is a demonstration going on and nothing will move until they get the all clear. We pulled into the garage and waited. I rang Nellie to tell her as she was waiting for us to pick her up. She said ok, don't worry I will get a taxi and meet you there when it has cleared but, just before she hung up all the cheering started, it was over and the road was opened again. She said I will be there in 5 minutes. We got back into our cars and in a few minutes were up the hill parked waiting for Nellie. The guard at the orphanage wanted to know what we wanted. Then Jerry told him the basics. Nellie arrived and we went inside up the stairs to the staff office. Jerry and Debs went off to look around and chat with the children.

The staff were very nice, they explained that the Director was call away on urgent business and apologised. Nellie explained we had boxes of donations for the children. They said they are happy to accept them but they would have to wait for instructions from the director, regarding opening them. It was agreed that we were only allow to drop the boxes off. Not all the children were there some of them were still at school. They gave us coffee and show us around. We saw the bedrooms, small but were neat and tidy. The medical room looked well stocked up. The dining area was nicely laid out and the kitchen was large. It was very clean. All the food was laid out ready for the children when they come home from school. The kitchen staff were lovely, very friendly and were happy for us to take photos etc. The children were just fantastic, all they wanted to do was hug us. Even the shy ones said hello. I wish we could open the boxes and give them present now, but this is not an option. Such a shame, I was gutted but, they have to do things properly and also to think of everyone else. The teacher told us a little bit about the place. They organize the unloading of the boxes with the older children who, by now, as you can imagine, were very excited. Some of them said 'hello' in English, Ah!! that was so nice and one little fellow said hello and goodbye all in one sentence. bless him.

I left them unloading and I went to the dining room area and started to empty onto the table the two rucksack full of sweets and sherbets, that myself and my team members at work donated. You know, the story, each year a collection is made for that member of staff who has a birthday and a present is bought. When it is my turn, I always remind them, not buy me a present, as, I will double the amount collected and send a cheque to the NSPCC. This year it was different, I decided to buy sweets for the children in this orphanage. You should have seen their little faces light up when the saw the first ruck sack emptied, but they were ecstatic, when they saw the second one. The children had never see so many sweets before, They were delighted, eyes bright and the smiles, beaming, just wonderful and ones you could cherish all you life. Ivan, one little lad shook his head and then put his head in his hand, in complete disbelief, such a reaction from a small child I did not expect, reminds me of a little onl man, what a little darling. They were jumping up and down and running off to finding the others to tell them. Yet, not one child touch a packet, I thought this was so strange, then it became obvious, naturally, to be fair to everyone, the teachers will distribute the sweets accordingly. The children knew this and were happy to wait. Such polite, caring, wonderful, happy, patient children, I have never met in my life. Glad we brought the sweets now.

We were about to leave when the Director came back. We introduced our self and he led us to his office. Jerry kindly stepped in to translate as Nellie had to get back to work. I explained that Nellie asked the staff if they could help collect the other boxes in their bus, Jerry was just telling him this, when the teacher came in and told him what had been arranged. He said of course no problem, and we arranged for collection and a proper visit on Monday 20th Oct, plus he would have an English speaking translator as Nellie is working till 5pm. The boxes were stored until Monday and the children had to wait another 4 days to see what was inside - poor little darlings. They were very excited. Needless to say, so were we. But, can I wait till Monday - aghhh, well waiting this long, another 4 days won't hurt.

We just want to say a huge thanks to Debs and Jerry for their help with the transport. Debs is a little star, I offered her petrol money, but of course, she would not hear of it, as its for the children. Poor Jerry had been driving from Turkey till early hours of the morning, she was shattered, poor love, but still managed to come to help. Also the superstar of all is our Nellie, without her we could not have managed at all. She was out main contact, she translated and organised the meeting. She found out what was required etc, all in her free time, which is very limited. She is just wonderful but yet, she would not, under any circumstances, take any money from us. She said we had brought her and her family so many presents, she feels obligated to us, but the truth be know, it's the other way round. She is happy to help anytime. She is a wonderful person. Thank you Nellie. Also want to thank Tsetsi, our other friend, she took the photographs for me and sent them to us early in the year. Thanks a million Guys you are all just wonderful.

Oddy

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PostSubject: Our first Delivery tothe Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008   Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:08 am

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YOU WILL NEED THE TISSUES ON THIS ONE

Monday 20th Oct 2008 Finally Arrived



The Director is Mr Stilian Stoichev, he and Elaina his translator, arrive at our Villa at about 2 45pm Monday 20th Oct. He told us the plan was to take the boxes into the dining room and all the children will be waiting. He told us he did not allow the children to open the boxes that we took on Thursday, as all the children were not there and it would be unfair, so they will be opened today. We can come in and present them to the children. Naturally the children were very excited and are waiting for us. We had prepared all the boxes ready by the gate and then Stilian and his driver loaded them. Elaina came with us in our jeep as there was not enough room in their bus now, with the boxes, the driver and Stilian.

We arrived at the orphanage at about 3.15. The exact name is 'Dimcho Debelianov home for children and teenagers'. The children were already out in the grounds waiting for us and they waved and followed the jeep when we drove in. We were bombarded with children when we opened the jeep door. The ones we met Thursday came up to hug us. The children were just super. They just wanted to be hugged and have a little attention. They are such beautiful friendly children. At present, there are 66 children here, but this changes daily. 3 of them do have parents that they go to some weekends for an hour or so. The children said they love it here in the Orphanage and they are well looked after, everybody is kind to them.

The Director led us to his office where we had coffee and biscuits. He then proceeded to tell us a bit of history. The orphanage was established after the end of World War II for the children who became orphans in Silistra region. The home was located in Sracimir village and in Sept 1998 they all moved to this building in Silistra. This building used to be the residence of the former communist leader - Todor Jivkov. The caretaker and the children all help maintain the grounds. Since he took over the Orphanage, he has made some improvements, like good quality bunk beds and furniture for the children's rooms. New windows and doors on one part of the building and once they have enough funds, will do the rest in stages. The are also planning new wooden flooring for the bedrooms and various other thing, again it will depend on the funding. They have no recreation hall only the dining area. He told us about the children and their general background. The programmes they have set up for them, ensuring they are well taken care of here, giving the a good educations etc and preparing them for life outside ie survival programs when they leave the home, find them accommodation so they ease themselves into the working or study environments etc. He told us they play football, tennis, and are in 2nd and 3rd place, not being a football/tennis fan I don't know exactly what that means, although he show us cups, they are very proud of. Also they are or, will be, performing in a concert in Sofia, singing and dancing folklore. The have talented chess players and painters. The children love to sing and dance. We were invited to an event in April 2009 at the home.

We had the grand tour and we took some pictures. First place we saw was the little area dedicated to the history of Bulgaria. There was lovely costumes and old antique stuff nicely laid out on tables and on the walls. The children are well protected with security all round them. Inside there are 14 small but comfortable bedrooms. The west wing for the boys and south for the girls. There are 6 beds in each room (3 sets of bunk beds) A chest of drawers or a desk and chair and a small built in wardrobe. The furniture was pine and was in good condition. There is a toilet and a washbasin in each room which was in the same bedroom, but in a smaller room off to the side. The children are responsible for keeping their beds made and keeping the rooms clean. What struck me most, was, we did not see one single item of clothing left lying about, everywhere was so neat and tidy. Everything was in its place, exactly the same elsewhere too. Wonderful.

After the tour, the children had gathered into the dining area patiently waiting for us. Stilian spoke to them and explained who we were and I think, why we were here and lots of other stuff. In the meantime the translator said, the director has asked if I would say a few words, would I mind. Now my Bulgaria is not that great, I understand more, but hey lets give it a go. As Stilian handed over to me the room went quiet, Dougie was not by my side I was on my own with all these children and adults watching me - my God, mind went a blank for a moment, then I said in my best Bulgarian, Good afternoon children, I am Berni and this is my husband Dougie, well the whole room roared and clapped and cheered and whistled, I filled up immediately and the tears flowed - I was truly overwhelmed and Dougie was by my side in a flash, he too was tearful. I was totally shocked at the response. I expect it was because I spoke to them in Bulgarian. It was just so wonderful. Elaina said they are happy to meet you, can you carry on, this time I spoke English as there was too much to say and Elaina translated. I told them we had brought them some presents from us, our family and friend in England and we hope they like them. Stilian told us they had been very good children and if they continue to be good, we will do our best to bring more next time. - then Stilian said only if they are very very good. Then they clapped and cheered again Elaina asked me to open the boxes and give some of the stuff out to the children, which I did and again their faces were a picture.. I looked over at Dougie and I knew from his expression we had done the right thing, he was as bad as myself he had tears running down his face, he was delighted as he looked from one child to the other. As I looked round the room, through misty tearful eyes at these wonderful little angels, I felt so proud of us. The children they were just beaming with delight. This is what it is all about, our mission was accomplished, the look on their faces, the joy and happiness we brought them for a few hours was magnificent. It was just heaven, really no other word for it. Then I opened a box that had the football shirts in and they were wild for them. In the end I was getting over crowded and threw them to Stilian, he gave them out. I did not think about bringing toys as they are not essentials, but we decided a few bags of small cars and a few boxes of soft toys wouldn't take up too much room, so we shoved them in. I opened the box with the soft toys in and the children went mad for them. The box was empty in seconds. Whoever, told me, toys were not a necessity, were greatly mistaken, if you seen these children with the smallest toy, you would be amazed. I wish now we had put more boxes of toys in. We never in our whole life saw the delight and happiness in children as we saw this day. It was just the most moving experience I have ever had in my life. Naturally there were tears and hugs and more tears, it was just wonderful. So we left the teachers to sort the rest of the stuff out and distribute amongst the children at their convenience.

Stilian said the children are really excited and they want to sing for us, so we all went to the TV room, where the children were waiting with the accordionist. The sang folklore songs. Then the boys and girls danced the traditional dance as well. The were having a great time and we enjoyed it all as well. Then on of the girls recited a poem she wrote herself, which was translated by Elaina. It was very good all about looking over the town of white Silsitra. Such a shame we forgot the video camera!!! Dougie was kidnapped again, by the children as they wanted to be photographed and by the end of the visit the battery was dead in the digital camera.

There was a meeting in the office and Nellie was on her way. She arrived a few minutes later. Someone found Dougie and escorted him to the office, in case he got waylaid again. We told Nellie about the day and the excitement and Stilian wanted to express his thanks for our kindness. I asked him did he think the children were happy with the stuff, he said there are now words necessary - just look at them. There are currently setting up a website and gave me all the literature but it is in Bulgaria, Nellie will translate it when she gets time. I will see if I can set up a website myself, I have some good friends who will help me, hope you are reading this Bill - BulgariaBill.

Well that was it, the staff had sorted the stuff out and will distribute in due course. The brought up to the office all the games, jigsaws, colouring pens, books, pens, pencils, pads and divided between each teachers group. I wish we had brought more now, they are very short of this kind of stuff. We will know better next time. The other thing was the little bottles of sample perfumes, soaps, powders, few pencil cases, hair bobs etc the teacher said the have kept as special rewards for the children. A lovely lady Ruth from England gave me hand made necklaces and bracelets she made for them. The teachers were truly delighted with them but would only give them to the most deserving child.

We want to say a very special thanks to our family for all their help in collecting, packing and overseeing the loading. Thanks to our friends and neighbours for all their help too. Jack you are a little darling thanks a million for being there with Dougie.


Oddy

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PostSubject: Our first Delivery tothe Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008   Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:37 pm

Debs you were right about the tissues [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] I don't know how you cope with all this emotionally let alone the physical side of it all, it makes me wonder how many more places in Bulgaria are in the same situation? that have gone unnoticed for many years and these poor children not being cared for in the way that they deserve, I have just finished reading this and I was in a flood of tears, so god knows how I'm going to be reading the rest?

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PostSubject: Our first Delivery tothe Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008   Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:48 pm

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who had to reach for the tissues, I can only agree with all that Sarah has said and lets hope that things do start to improve ? and who knows maybe the Bulgarian government will step in and clean up its own house, I know that the BBC program that was aired not so long ago and also a year ago has made a huge difference to these children who were forgotten, so I hope that the same may apply here and that Bulgaria as a nation can start to care about that which is important and that is their children, because without them there is no future for Bulgaria of any of its people old or young, I have said it before and I will say it and again well done you 2 and let us know as a group of people/members how or what we can do to help, I realise that you are sorted for this years but lets see what we can do for next year, I'm sorry if this sounds a little stupid but having never been involved with raising money for anything I don't know where to start

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PostSubject: Our first Delivery tothe Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008   Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:55 pm

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Thanks a million guys for all you good wishes, we really appreciate it, will have to get my thinking hat on and will let you all know how you can help

Thanks Oddy

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PostSubject: Our first Delivery tothe Silistra Orphanage Oct 2008   Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:49 pm

I guess I will have to update the second trip for 2009 soon - I have wrote it but trying to find it is another matter

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