Trucks, trams and traffic...
Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
12Trip End Dec 19, 2009
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Where I stayed
House of Joshua
I guess we should really introduce the team so you can see who's who and so you can avoid them in the street back in the UK lest they start talking about Christmas boxes when it is in fact March... This does happen.
The team from The Trussell Trust UK are Lizzie Abnett (Trussell's UK Volunteer Co-ordinator), Sophia Chichester (gap year student with the Bulgaria dept) and Rich Parsons (Bulgaria Operations Manager).
Batting for the Bulgaria team are Tedy Koleva (National Development Co-ordinator), Mimi Georgieva (Admin/Projects Support) and Valya Stankovska (translator and all round helper)
Do not be impressed by these titles. We made them up so that they sound great.
It's not often that you can say that everything went to plan on a Christmas box trip day but today it nearly did, which means we are pretty happy. The day started with a typical battle through Sofia traffic to reach our warehouse (big thanks here to Bulgaria Baptist Union for letting us use some of their space) to unload the truck. The trick with driving in Sofia is to take everything that is bad about UK driving behaviour and embrace it as your friend and ally. Going with the flow is the order of the day and as long as you remember that every motorcyclist that you see has absolutely no sense of self preservation and will attempt to make that gap and that buses/trams/trolleybuses are essentially mobile chicanes to be negotiated at speed then you will be fine. Also, do not attempt to drive down tramways- this is bad. Ahem.
We had a fantastic team of volunteers rustled up by Tedy to come and help unload the boxes and we had the job done inside 90 mins. A team of guys from an ex-prisoners reform group really got stuck into the job and together with some guys from Busmantsi Refugee Centre and the TT team the warehouse was soon full and we waved Tsvetan and his truck goodbye.
Then it was back to the town of Botevgrad to vist the Roma community and give out vouchers for the box distribution tomorrow. It was really good to see some old friends again. Having spent some time working in this community Rich, Mimi and Valya are quite familiar with the people there but it is still a shock to see just how poor this community is- 200 people, 2 outside taps, no toilets, pirated electricity and real excitement about the two pigs that are being fattened for Christmas
Tomorrow the fun begins with an early stop at Sofia bus station for Mimi and Rich to foward some boxes to Varna and then our first Christmas box distribution of the year will take place at Skravena School and then we visit Skravena and Botevgrad Roma Communities. Hooray.
More tomorrow, assuming we don't find ourselves stuck to the front of a tram Rich...