Bulgarian Aid send another container of Food, consumables and hospital supplies to the poor of Bulgaria.

Just prior to Christmas, Market Rasen Rotarians and some helpful associates, helped fill the most recent container, destined for dispatch to Bulgaria using a warehouse and facilities on the old Binbrook aerodrome. 20 pallets of food as well as 550 boxes packed with medical stuff, over 1000 nurses uniforms, clothing, toys, walking aids, Zimmer frames, walking sticks, arm crutches and two overbed tables were loaded into the container.

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Three years ago a great need was identified amongst elderly people. Most of them women, widows, who had worked all their lives and now found themselves in need. Usually they live alone in a two-roomed flat in a concrete block, they have to pay rent, water and electricity bills every month or they are 'cut off'. Their pensions are very small, commonly in the region of 150 lev (£65) a Month. As we travel over there and live there for weeks at a time, shopping in the markets, we were very aware of the price of foodstuffs. These elderly people have no chance of supplementing their income, and are only living on bread and yoghurt. A decision was made to concentrate on helping the elderly. On our last trip, 1500 food parcels were personally distributed to vulnerable needy people. Also, some food was given to Homes for the Elderly and Disabled.

This container was destined to arrive in Varna on Friday, prior to Christmas and was unloaded in the warehouse of a Rotarian in the Varna Euxinograd Club. we flew out, and stayed for two weeks to distribute everything personally and safely.
The medical supplies were donated to the hospice and home at Provadia (who were absolutely delighted with the two overbed tables) and two hospitals in Varna. The Doctors in Charge examining everything and making sure they each got what was appropriate for their hospitals and commonly used items were equally shared!

Some of the food was assigned to a scheme that helps 150 elderly ladies with whom the Charity have worked before. The organisation do a wonderful job of keeping the spirits of the old ladies up - they have a choir, hold craft classes every day and arrange outings. This scheme is funded by the women in business in Varna.

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Some went to a Hospice and home for the elderly and some to a Home in Provadia, about 40 miles from Varna, for the Disabled. (That's another story but suffice to say 70 disabled people are housed in the old offices of an old bus station with one toilet and one shower on each floor, for 35 people. The ones upstairs cannot come down because there is no lift or ramp and they are all in wheelchairs).

The Rotarians in Varna told us that, since we were there in June, several schemes have started up that provide hot meals each day for vulnerable people. These schemes were desperate for donations of food.

When we arrived, prior to Christmas at the first Soup Kitchen there were 500 people mostly elderly, waiting, in the bitter cold weather. Some of them had been there for 2 hours, they had seen the donation being delivered and decided to wait!

During that afternoon, each one of the 500 received a food parcel, dry foods like spaghetti and packet soups, tinned fish, vegetables, cereals, long life milk and some 'treats' like biscuits or chocolate bars. They were all very grateful and the volunteers at the scheme gave heartfelt thanks, saying the donation must have been 'heaven sent' because until they heard about the donation they had no idea how they were going to provide any food for Christmas Day and Boxing Day to the 800 people registered with them.

Another scheme, at St Michael's church in Varna, provides food at the weekends. This scheme also received a donation. We went along to witness 150 people, again mostly elderly, queuing up for a yoghurt carton of good vegetable soup, a small loaf of bread and a carton of yoghurt, Most of them consumed the soup and bread immediately standing near tables in the church garden, taking the yoghurt home for later.

An organisation that takes meals to housebound people, St Andrews, was also helped and a Day Centre that cares for 40 disabled young people every day, giving them lunch and tea before they go home. The visit there was quite a happy one. The young people danced and sang in a little Show for the visitors and had also made a picture, with a Snowman, A Christmas Tree and Father Christmas on, every child had contributed something to the picture!

It was a very different Christmas for Christine and Christopher but was a very fulfilling one. At the same time the gratitude of all the recipients was humbling. Christine said, 'They were grateful for so little in comparison with what we have in Britain, it makes you want to help them again. The helpers are not well-off by our standards but are working to help those less fortunate." Judging by the emails we have received from Varna the need is becoming even greater so when Christine and Christopher return home they will be trying to raise funds for another shipment.

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The food is obtained from a charity Hisfood who are based at Binbrook near Market Rasen. Manufacturers and Supermarkets channel their 'excess' food through this charity. A donation is made to Hisfood for handling. So the 20 pallets of high quality food, plus the carriage of the container, usually around £2700, as the Bulgarian port charges are also paid, costs approximately £5,700 – but the food is worth maybe ten times more than that. The hope it brings is incalculable!

So Bulgarian Aid is committed to sending another container of food aid as soon as possible and will welcome any donations or offers of help .

Christine can be contacted with offers of help, or with questions at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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