Dobromir’s eyes shine with excitement as he recalled the fantastic time he had at a Mission Without Borders (MWB) Summer Camp. The 12-year-old lives with his grandparents and 13-year-old cousin in Ognyanovo in Bulgaria’s far south-west. He was abandoned by his mother when he was only seven months old. His father moved away, remarried and now has two younger children, and Dobromir rarely sees him.
With sadness in his eyes, Dobromir said, “I don’t remember my mother. I have a good relationship with my father’s wife, but it’s not the same. It’s difficult to grow up without a mother’s love.”
Dobromir’s paternal grandparents, Iskra and his namesake Dobromir, have paid work looking after wealthier villagers’ horses, who graze in the forest. However, both grandparents have health issues which means that Dobromir and his cousin do the lion’s share of looking after these animals as well as the day-to-day chores. It takes an hour to reach the forest, and there are no days off.
Dobromir said, “I go to the forest every day to check if everything is alright with the horses. I groom them and return them to their stables for the night.”
Spaska Bozhikova, MWB Family Support and Summer Camp leader, tells us more about Dobromir’s circumstances.
“I’ve known Dobromir since the beginning of the year,” she said. “He is a very responsible child, but very quiet. The family relies on him and his cousin for their income, so he rarely has time to play or to laugh with his friends in the neighbourhood. He doesn’t have any toys or a bicycle. The family live in one room – Dobromir and his grandfather share one bed, and his grandmother and cousin share the other. There is no bathroom or toilet. Because he has to spend so much time helping his grandfather, he is often not able to do his homework.’
Despite the harshness of these circumstances, Dobromir does not complain – to him, the way the family lives is normal and he points out that there are poorer families than his.
Last year, however, Mission Without Borders was able to give Dobromir and his cousin Desi an opportunity to experience a taste of childhood at an MWB Summer Camp.
Spaska recalls Dobromir’s reaction when he found out he would be leaving Ognyanovo for the first time. She said, “He couldn’t believe it - his eyes filled with tears of joy. He was excited, but also a little nervous. What would he do, who would he meet? Dobri was surprised to learn that all he had to do was play with the other children! Each day was full of surprises and new challenges, such as swimming in the pool, playing games, learning Bible lessons and new Christian songs.