He is the 111th child in the orphanage, starting today. His mother brought him here. Before my eyes while I was having tea with Father Ivan.
The boy’s father died two years ago and that turned his family’s life upside down. The mother is unemployed. Without any chance of finding a job in this crisis, as she told me.
She had been to the Social Services, to the Child Protection Agency and in SOS homes. All she got were promises and promises. … And the suggestion to leave Ivan in an orphanage.
- Father Ivan, can we take him on Saturdays and Sundays?
- Of course. You can come and take him any time. It will be good however not to keep him away from school. I will enroll him in the local one by tomorrow.
- And on Friday nights you can take him to a local educational center in Drujba. He has been attending the Shakespearean school for two years now. It has been founded by some English people. There such schools only in our village Patalenitsa and here, in Drujba. They are going to give a performance in a month. Ivan will play the main character.
- We will take him there. Do not worry about it. And we will support him, for his talent. Right, son?
After this conversation between Ivan’s mother and Father Ivan I felt like I had to go out into the yard. My ears were pounding. My blood started boiling and went into my head.
I felt totally frustrated, helpless and meaningless.
I felt I had to cry.
I had not visited Father Ivan from Novi Han for a long time and so I have not told you about him and about his “little children”.
On Monday we made the spontaneous decision together with my older daughter to visit with the priest and we decided we should do it on Wednesday. Just like that. We had nothing in particular in mind.
And as I have been telling you the Unanticipated chance has been holding me by the hand. So it turned out it was St. Mina’s Day today. St. Mina- the protector of the family and of people who had taken along journey….
The latter I certainly take as a metaphor.
A metaphor for the long journey we, the Bulgarians, started 20 years ago.
This morning I told my friends on Facebook that today, 11th November is the first day of the next 20 years of our journey to our cleansing. What an irony of the accidents.
My last visit to the St Nikolay Orphanage in Novi Han was in the beginning of April. Then there were about 30 children aged 10-12. Don’t ask me how embarrassed I felt when the candies I had brought we barely enough for only half the children there.
Now there are 53 children younger than 12 and about 30 older than 12. Together with the mothers and a few women from the staff a total of 111 people!!!!
All of them under the roof of the orphanage, and in the yard of St. Trinity Church and on Father Ivan’s hands.
There have been 5 newborn babies in the last 3-4 weeks only.
As 19-year-old Iva told me the crisis had its toll with more intensity two months ago. Iva is looking after her 3 children here.
They had only a few packages of rice left on stock. They virtually had nothing to cook. Iva told me they had never seen Father Ivan cry so bitterly. He got into his car and took away. By the evening he had provided food for a few days more.
Only in two years Father Ivan had built a spacious extension of the orphanage. With the great help of Peter Dikov, The Chief Architect of the City of Sofia, who had donated the plans as well as the entire paperwork in process.
The new extension provides for medical offices, a computer room. Unfortunately, they are not finished yet as there is no money left. Right now 6 new windows are urgently needed. Each window costs 160 leva.
The wiring is not done as well. Some company had promised Father Ivan they were going to do it but they never showed up. Some 120 square meters of laminated flooring are also needed.
Another pressing problem are the diapers for the children. There are 17 children who need them every day.
I saw Father Ivan receive 5 orders for medication for various children only while I was there.
After spending 6 emotional hours at the orphanage we had to leave, in the late afternoon. “New” Ivan’s mother left with us.
Most of the children in the orphanage are named Ivan, Iva, Yoanna.
- Is this Father Ivan’s orphanage?
- Yes, this is it.
- Is he here?
-Yes, he is inside.
We exchanged smiles and she went inside. She must be bringing some clothes for the children, I thought. And I felt happy there were such people.
It turned out, however, that the woman we met at the door had traveled all the way from Stara Zagora to seek shelter at the orphanage. Probably the 112th.