Krupnik is a village in southwestern Bulgaria where many Roma families live in poverty. Unemployment is very high, and work is often temporary and low paid.
Ivan, 34, works as a laborer when he can get a job, but he can’t afford everything his large family needs. The house they live in is in very bad shape; they have no toilet or bathroom, no running water, and little furniture.
His wife Adriana, 31, said, “There are many nights when my children go to bed hungry because there’s nothing to put on the table. My heart breaks – but that's our reality.
“Because we don't have water at home, I can't bathe my children and wash their clothes to go out anywhere, or to school. There is no way the younger ones can go to kindergarten; we have no money for clothes and shoes.
I’m glad that at least the older ones, Valentina and Ivan, are studying at high school. They are my pride and joy. They fill water in bottles from the city fountain and then heat it on the stove at home.
“Valentina helps me with raising the younger children and tries to keep up with the learning material as well. The truth is that daily life is a constant struggle.”
The Christmas season has always been a difficult time for Adriana and Ivan. For their children, ‘Christmas gift’ is is an unknown concept. A table full of food, a house decorated with lights and a Christmas tree with presents are something that the children could only dream of.
This year, however, is different. Every Christmas, Mission Without Borders (MWB) runs Operation Christmas Love, delivering food parcels to families and elderly people living in poverty throughout eastern Europe. The boxes are filled with food necessities and also special treats such as chocolate. MWB also includes Christian literature that shares the real meaning of Christmas – and the significance of God’s gift of his Son Jesus.
“Mommy, Mommy come and see what Uncle Emil has brought to us!” Adriana’s children shouted excitedly, jumping up and down.
MWB’s family worker in Krupnik, Emil Metodiev, had arrived at the family’s door with Operation Christmas Love boxes – and the children couldn’t wait to see what was inside.