Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Update on Naiden

Meet Naiden, my first and best friend in Bulgaria. Briefly, this is Naiden’s story. Naiden lived at the orphanage longer than any other child; he was only a toddler when his parents left him at the orphanage. They never visited or contacted him again. He doesn’t know if he has brothers, sisters, or any other relatives. For his entire life all holidays and birthdays were spent at the orphanage. The orphanage became his home and his family.

In 2007 on my first visit to the orphanage in Lom, Naiden and I quickly realized that we shared an interest in gardening when he proudly showed me his small vegetable garden. Through our translator, I told him that he and I could weed the garden together the next day. By the time I arrived the next morning, he had the garden completely weeded; he had worked into the night to get the job done. This was our first indication of Naiden’s amazing work ethic.

Life wasn’t easy for Naiden. When we arrived at the orphanage in 2008, Naiden wasn’t there. He had been sent away for special treatment for his “anger issues”. He was able to return to the orphanage for one afternoon so that he could visit with us. His permanent return to the orphanage was questionable. However, being the resilient young man that he is, he overcame his problems and was back at the orphanage in time for our arrival in 2009.

Through the years many of the older boys looked forward to working with our men on various repair and renovation projects in the orphanage. Naiden became one of the most dependable and able workers. From the age of thirteen Naiden would find a summer job in town, usually doing hard manual labor on a construction site. He would finish his job and return to the orphanage around 4:30, just in time to get his orphanage work assignment from Wayne and David. After supper he would begin his orphanage assignment, many times working until 3:00 or 4:00 AM.The next morning he would leave the orphanage around 7:00 for his summer job. He kept up this schedule throughout our entire visit.

Naiden now lives in Sofia and has a good job at a construction company keeping an inventory of supplies coming in and going out. He has friends and a good life. Although there is nothing in his early years that would predict a happy and successful life, no one deserves it more than Naiden. I love a story with a happy ending!