This week, we temporarily partnered with the ministry Hope in Bulgaria, based in Nadezhda, Sliven. For those hearing of Nadezhda for the first time, I will give you a little more information about this village. Nadezhda is the biggest Roma community in Sliven, Bulgaria. This village has a population of about 30,000 people in about one square mile. Parts of Nadezhda are built on a workable rubbish dump; where people live, children play, and newborns begin their lives. In the harsh winters, many of these families have nothing but bonfires made out of harmful rubbish to keep them warm. Yet this village’s name means “Hope” in English.
On the day we went to Nadezhda with hats, coats, and scarfs, the warmest it got all day was 0℃. That temperature is only the beginning of the cold winter. Hope in Bulgaria feeds hot soup to a hundred sponsored children three times a week, which we got to witness those children receiving their hot soup. Once we arrived in Nadezhda, we, with Hope in Bulgaria, went through the coats, picking out some of them for the children and families that need them the most. Many of the streets of Nadezhda are too rough for cars, so the only way to the poorest area, the rubbish dump, is by foot or horse and cart.
As the horse and cart pulled up filled with coats, hats, and scarfs, the children came running. They saw the bag of handmade hats and began to cheer, “Shapka, Shapka, Shapka, woohoo!” or in English, that would be, “Hats, Hats, Hats, woohoo!” It didn’t take long for the news to get out; the men and women of the village soon gathered. Mothers and fathers began lifting up their babies in the hope that their child would be one to get a hat. Faces lit up, and cheers were heard when each one would receive that one simple warm hat.
After all the hats and scarfs were given, we began asking certain families to stay as we went to get the coats put aside for their families. There was one little toddler boy who was so happy with his coat. He didn’t want to let go of it; instead, he wanted to show everyone his new warm coat. There were so many people who came up to me to show me that they too got a coat for this cold winter.
With Natasha, from Hope in Bulgaria, we walked around to certain families’ houses to bless them with the coats that we had saved for them. As we were walking, we passed one house; a lady came out, saying that she suffers from hideous migraines and epilepsy. We asked her if we could pray with her, and she agreed. It was beautiful to see that right there on the streets of Nadezhda, Holy Spirit was touching this lady’s life.