NEWSLETTER issue 6/2017

Hope Came to a Forgotten Village 
- Baby Boxes Opened the Door!

By Ignat Ivanov, President

A village we had passed by countless times

We had seen Karnare, a small shanty village, many times from the main road as we visited the surrounding villages. We wanted to start work there too, but it was difficult to establish contact with its residents.

Then we decided to try with baby boxes.
We asked the pastor of the Roma church in the neighboring village to go to Karnare and make it known that we would like to help families. He found out that there were over twenty families there with young children.


The first visit - we didn't know what to expect

There is tension between the majority population in Bulgaria and its Roma people. We were not sure how the villagers would react to our coming.

But when our team arrived in Karnare, friendly people came to meet our van. The children were curious and excited. We visited the families and brought them clothes and food.

The villagers shared about their problems.
They suffered enormously: hunger, unemployment,
illness, and only one water faucet in the whole village!

A shock for us and them

In September we went with helpers from Finland to Karnare again and took baby boxes. The primitive shacks and the children’s living conditions in the midst of filth and stench were a shock to both our guests and us.

But the villagers were astonished as well. How was it possible that a group of mothers from a distant country would come to visit them, bring clothes for their babies, hug them, and pray for them?

"Do you want a church here?”

What can we do to really help the people in Roma villages?

We have seen that there is only one way to change their lives long-term: establish a church and preach the Good News, teach, and help. That is what we would like to see happen in Karnare.

There was a vacant two-room house in the village that we bought to renovate into a house of prayer and activity center. It was touching when we called the villagers to gather in front of the house.

- “We would like to bring you help and hope.
There is not much we can give,
but we would like to start a church here and do what we can.
Do you want to have a church here?” we asked the people.
- “Yes!” they exclaimed. 

After that we prayed with the villagers and blessed their families. 

Renovation has started

Men from the churches in nearby villages have begun renovation on the building.
Our goal is to open a soup kitchen there for children this winter and to organize their first Christmas celebration.

The baby boxes are very much needed for the mothers and infants in Karnare.
These beautiful packages are proof that somebody cares about them.

 

One of this year’s unforgettable moments

Ministry begins in a new village and hope arrives!
Pictured is the coordinator of Finland’s Baby Box Project, Päivi Ranta (on the right), along with volunteers, delivering a baby box to a needy family in Karnare.

“We left part of our hearts with the poor children and their young mothers.”

Impressions from a group who visited the slums in Bulgaria

A group of volunteers from Finland, who have been active in collecting baby clothes for the Baby Box Project, visited Bulgaria in September to distribute baby boxes in Roma villages.

“We were in Bulgaria for only three days, but it affected us more than we expected,” says Päivi Ranta, who coordinates the project in Finland.

Here are impressions from some of the volunteers:

*  *  *

“We visited the village of Karnare where about two hundred people, mostly children, live in terrible conditions. Some of its shacks are homes for families of ten!

“The director of Mission Possible in Bulgaria, Roumen Ivanov, told the villagers why we had come. We took the first baby box to a family with six children. The youngest was four months old. The home was only a few square meters, there were two mattresses on the stone floor, and one rug. We prayed for the family (after asking them first) and presented the box to them.

“Many of the children in the village were sick and had infected eyes and runny noses. Some had yellowish eyes (which is a sign of hepatitis B) and abscessed sores. Many were barefoot. On the grounds there were pieces of glass, feces, trash…”

“The first home in Karnare where we took a baby box was unforgettable.
In the shack there were two old beds, a crib, and an old stove
– and dirt, junk, and tons of flies.
There were seven children in the family.
Our first thoughts were, ‘How is this possible?
How can they survive here?’”

“When I was collecting clothes in Finland I thought I knew where the baby boxes were taken. But now that I’ve been there, what I thought I knew has been shattered completely. I had my eyes opened to realities that are difficult to understand and accept.”

“Baby boxes are the first step along a road that will lead the people in Roma villages out of hopelessness and give them more optimism for the future.”

“Mission Possible’s project is not just about distributing clothes for babies. The planted seed is watered and nourished through Christian teaching, health education, and soup kitchens. Education is emphasized as a way out of hopelessness.”

We want to change the life of these children and families. This task is not impossible!

We, along with the visitors from Finland, went to another village where we have worked for several years. There is a functioning church there, and in spite of poverty, the people’s situation has clearly improved.

“Believe it or not,” said Roumen Ivanov, “just a few years ago this village was like Karnare!”

There is hope for the people of Karnare!

...........................................................

Daniel Makes His Living by Burning Waste at the Dump

Daniel has just turned fifteen, but this frail boy looks instead like a ten-year-old. We came to know him a couple years ago when we started children’s ministry in his home village.

His family lives in very poor conditions, and we have helped them however we can. Daniel has two brothers and a sister, who, although she is still a minor, recently had a baby.

Daniel’s mother is unemployed and an alcoholic. Most of her children’s government allowances are used to buy alcohol. Daniel, in spite of his young age, has been forced to provide for the family.

Daniel’s main source of income is from his work at the city dump, quite far from his village.
His job is to burn garbage, including toxic waste, which gives him headaches.
If he finds something edible, he takes it home.

Daniel attends our Bible club. Last summer we invited him to our youth camp. There, this boy, exhausted from responsibilities and long work days in filth and waste, seemed to be revived. He felt loved and, above all, precious to God. He found new friends and understood that even with his hardships he is not alone.

Hundreds of children attend Mission Possible’s Bible clubs in Ukrainian villages.
Daniel is one of them.
Thank you for your help that makes this work possible!

“We Have to Get There! The Children Are Waiting!”

“Mission Impossible”

Did you know that in part of Eastern Europe Christmas is celebrated in January? We, however, begin the celebrations in November, organizing dozens of events in our target countries and by sharing Christmas gifts with thousands of children.

Christmas season is the highlight of the work year in our Ukrainian villages. The celebrations provide a possibility to connect with new people in new places and open doors for ministry.

The problem is that during this season it is sometimes practically impossible to access some villages. Only a little rain or snow is needed to render the rough roads impassable. But this challenge must be overcome because the children are waiting for us! They make preparations for the Christmas parties by learning songs and poems and by crafting gifts and decorations.

A warm celebration in the cold gathering hall

“The twenty-five-mile-drive from Odessa to the village of Uchenicheskoye took a long time as we tried to find detours and solid ground to drive on,” said our worker Tanya. “But because of the children we could not turn back!

“When we arrived, forty children and some mothers and fathers were waiting in the ice-cold auditorium, donning winter clothes. But the cold did not hinder the festive atmosphere!

"The Christmas Gospel drama was touching, and the songs, games, and tea kept everybody warm. We spoke about the meaning of Christmas, how the Savior was born to the world, and how He wants to come into every person’s heart.”

Just a little love and work is needed for children to change!

“In the first row sat thirteen-year-old Vitaly. We met him at last year’s Christmas party – which he attended drunk! But during the year he kept showing up for our children’s Bible club, and he began to change. We talked with him and prayed for him. ‘I so much wait for the Christmas party,’ he told us.

“He sat without moving and absorbed everything he saw and heard.
I looked at him and thought,
‘Just for the sake of this one boy it was worth coming here.’”

Soup Kitchens Help the Children through the Winter - and You Can Be Part of It

For the people living in shacks in impoverished villages like Karnare, winter is a great challenge. During the summer they can generate some earnings by working in the fields and collecting mushrooms and berries. But there is no work in the winter – and it is cold!

During the long stretch from October through May,
our soup kitchens feed the children.
The meals are served at the church,
and the children and families come to know it
as a place of hope, blessing, and help.

You can be a part of this by sending a gift for “soup kitchens.”
Feeding one child for a month costs about $15. 
Thank you for your help!

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