Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Soccer Champs!

From: MTG United for Peace: A Charity for Children

Excited young players were eager to see just how far their football talents could take their teams on 6-8 September when MTG United for Peace Cup was held in Sofia. The Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and international football stars from all over Europe had also arrived at the national stadium “Vasil Levski” to entertain the young football players and the crowd in a charity match.

Boys’ teams, all from underprivileged backgrounds, had travelled from all over the country to participate in the football tournament. For a lot of the 12-14-year old players this was their first visit to the country’s capital and their excitement really filled the air. The prospect of winning and getting on a plane with their team mates to the international final in Oslo was in the back of every player’s mind.

A lot of fun things happened surrounding the matches to make the tournament something to cherish. Every player received a goody bag from beauty product makers Refan while “X-Factor” stars Maria Ilieva and Poly Genova, along with the children's group “Bon Bon”, kept the spirits of the young footballers up.

Close to 7,000 people came to take part in the football fun at the charity match. The Bulgarian All Star team, with renowned national stars like Hristo Stoichkov, Lyuboslav Penev and Yordan Lechkov, was led by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. They faced MTG CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht’s team of European football legends Patrik Andersson, Stefan Schwarz, Erland Johnsen and Jan Age Fjortoft (who’s also the chairman of MTG United for Peace) to name but a few.

No one in the audience was disappointed as the exciting match got under way. It was a fairly even game, where Bulgaria had the most opportunities. And even though the football players were engaged in friendly banter before and after the game, when they were out on the pitch, they all took it seriously:

“I think their competitive instincts took over during the game and emotions ran a bit high at times,” said central defender and peace ambassador Erland Johnsen after the match. “One red card was even given out, and I got a yellow one! It also slightly embarrassing that we didn’t manage to score any goals,” Johnsen laughed.

The Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov did however score, from a penalty in the 50th minute, which resulted in a 1-0 victory for the home team.

The Prime Minister, a keen football player and friend to a lot of the Bulgarian players, was not difficult to attract for the event: “I’m always ready to take part in initiatives such as MTG United for Peace, when the focus is on children,” Boyko Borissov said. After the match the children went onto the football pitch to meet up with their idols and get their autographs.

When the thrilling children’s tournament drew to an end, the team “Milosardie” from Lom on the river Danube had fought their way to become Bulgarian champions. The biggest aspiration for the entire event was for the children to make new friends and realise that we’re all the same, no matter who we are or where we’re from. Or, as former football pro and peace ambassador Johnsen so nicely put it:

“I think it’s great that the country’s Prime Minister took part in the game. It shows that even a person in a position of power like him is also human, like the rest of us. It shows a big openness to other people, which is what being a peace ambassador for MTG United for Peace is all about.”

The entrance fees from the big crowd will be used for sports scholarships for children deprived of parental care. The money generated from last year’s event has so far given out 14 sports scholarships for children living in caretaking institutions. The next 26 scholarships will be handed out next month.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Update

This is from a recent email from our translator, Steffi:

The school year started just two weeks ago and it has been a busy time for us all. Some of the kids from the group home moved to the school where my son attends and I get to seem them regularly. Laura, from the orphanage, is going to school for the first time ever. She is in my son, Sammy's first grade class. The orphanage soccer team won the national competition and is going to travel to the European competition in Finland next week. Zoran and Anatoli are also part of the team. Below are pictures of Zoran's recent birthday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Meet our English friends. From left to right: Emily Applegate, Beth Watts, Aimee Pilcher, and David Applegate. Beth has joined us for all five mission trips. Emily has been on three trips; David and Aimee have been with us for two summers.

A new adoption!

Great news from Lom! Desi is going to be adopted by an Italian family. Desi is smart and has a very sweet nature. She loves to play games and participate in craft projects. She is pictured with her good friend Sashka and also with Joe and Lucho.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday update by Wayne

On Friday we built two of the Corn Hole game boards using some discarded wood trim which was almost a 2 x 4 in size but with an ogee cut on one side and a new piece of particle board (we could not find 3/4" thick plywood). We will let the boys put a few coats of paint on it after we are gone. We were expecting some men to bring a brick saw with a diamond tipped blade to come cut the concrete tiles that will be installed around some of the perimeter, they were supposed to arrive at 10:00 am. As they had not arrived by lunch time we went back to the hotel to eat. We had marked several of the concrete tiles that needed to be cut before we left. The workers had arrived while we were gone and had cut the marked pieces and were now waiting on us. We marked the rest of the tiles and installed them as soon as they were cut. The man who operated the saw also took a try at playing cornhole. He threw his first toss right through the hole! Later in the day these same guys delivered five of the used concrete/wood benches which will be installed on the patio. By the end of the day we had completed our work on the patio with the only item remaining to be done was to fill the cracks with the grout Kiro instructed the boys to use. The corn hole game boards were also completed and several minutes were spent tossing the bags made by Nicky.

The children knew that our time there was coming to an end and several good-byes were said through teary eyes, theirs and ours. Svetly gave me his blank personal diary and told me that I was his best friend. Svetly will be leaving the orphanage in September to go to a vocational school to become a chef. Most of us guys think he would be better suited for a demolition contractor. He is supposed to return to the orphanage next year for summer vacation. We also took our annual photo assisted by Zoiko.

On Saturday we packed up, checked out of the hotel and went by the orphanage for a couple more hours and more teary good-byes. We drove to our hotel in Sofia and will leave Bulgaria on our flight which is scheduled to leave at 6:10 am. On our drive from Lom plans were made and notes taken on what we would do next year.

Friday and Saturday!

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Friday and Saturday! , a set on Flickr.

view pictures here!

On our long journey home!

Wayne on the van!

We stopped to look at the sunflowers!


Today we stayed at the orphanage for about an hour just to say our goodbyes. It is always so hard to leave them! We all shared lots of hugs and kisses! Of course there were also tears on both sides! Zoiko arrived at our hotel early this morning during breakfast. He knew it was our last day and wanted to help any way he could. He collected our luggage and helped pack it on the vans. He also brought small gifts to us as tokens of his love and appreciation. Definitely not the same Zoiko from the first year! We took lots more pictures and promised to send them along with letters from home. Steffi, our translator and friend, will be able to deliver them to the kids and translate for them. She is a wonderful friend and has been a tremendous help for us. We could not come to Bulgaria without Steffi and Kris! We missed having Tedi along this year. She had to stay and take care of their son, Christopher, who was recovering from his tonsil surgery. We were pleased to leave lots of supplies and stuff for the kids. The men were satisfied with their completed projects, too. God has definitely blessed us all!


Zoiko is one of our "success" stories from Lom! The first year we came he despised us. He cursed at us and was determined to ruin all of our games and activities. Zoiko pitched many fits and generally sat around smoking that year. Each year we have returned to find a much improved Zoiko! This year Zoiko acted as our assistant. He met us at our hotel to help unload the luggage and drag it all upstairs. He greeted us each day and eagerly joined us in our games, activities and construction projects. When we played our handbells with the children, he made sure the kids understood exactly how it worked and gave out strict instructions. When our cd player did not work, he came outside with his and played our music for us. Zoiko organized several limbo contests and on the last day, he took over as "game show host". For the past few years we have played a "white elephant" game with bags of small gifts we bring for the kids. This year instead of Kris or Steffi explaining the rules and organizing the game, Zoiko did it. He took over beautifully! We all thoroughly enjoyed watching him and the kids loved it! In the stack of t-shirts we brought, Zoiko found one that was most appropriate for him. The shirt he wore said "I have decided to put myself in charge."

Decorating in Bulgaria

One of our projects this year was to help the older girls decorate their rooms. We assumed that we would be working on the rooms they usually occupied; however, we found out that they were moving into different rooms. The director of the orphanage decided to remodel the rooms previously used by the "babies" for the older girls. We arrived to find some of the work was started, but not much had been completed. Two of the older boys, Naiden and Todor, were plastering and painting. Some local carpenters were installing doors and preparing to install a small kitchen. Once it is complete, the girls will have three bedrooms, a sitting room and a kitchen. The director hopes this will help prepare them for independent life when they have to leave the orphanage. Everything will be very nice once it is done, but things move very slowly in Bulgaria. No one really gets in a hurry! Susan had to spend most of the week waiting on the walls to be painted and the other work completed. On Friday she finally got to hang the curtains she brought and decorate the walls some with pictures, posters and decals. The girls were very excited about the stuff Susan did to their "apartment"! Susan was happy but frustrated that she had to leave things partially finished. Hopefully, Steffi can send us pictures of the rooms when they are completely done.

The New Home for the "Babies"

Ten of the children from the orphanage have been moved to a new home in Lom. They renovated several rooms in the local kindergarten school building just for these children ages 3 to 7. We visited Thursday morning and spent a couple of hours playing with them. We recognized 2 or 3 from last year. The new space is great! It is very clean with lots of room to play and lots of caregivers. Five of the 10 children are still in diapers. Two are very handicapped and don't walk very well. The children who were able to play went outside with us. We blew bubbles, drew with sidewalk chalk, danced and made a hand print poster with tempera paints. Back inside we surprised them with balloons. They loved the balloons and did not pop a single one! Then we made pictures with stickers. It was a great visit! We delivered gifts of diapers and cleaning supplies along with our cd player and music. We were very pleased with the new home for these children. When they are older, they will probably have to move back into the orphanage.