Our Street Mercy appeal is upon us and in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, there are thousands of homeless people – and when temperatures turn icy in the Winter, being homeless becomes unbearable. With few safety nets in place, it is too easy to find lives turned upside down after a relationship breakdown, rental fraud, or eviction – and not enough state provision to provide shelter and a way out.
her family once lived in a warm apartment in Sofia with a bathroom and big
living room. She loved cooking and her husband had a job in construction. But
they became abruptly homeless when her stepdaughter threw them out.
and their two children now take shelter in an abandoned café. Conditions are
insanitary and there is no running water. To wash their dishes and clothes, the
family have to travel 20 kilometers by public transport to Sofia, where they
fill their plastic bottles from a warm mineral spring.
any running water or facilities, it is difficult for the family to keep clean,
which is a problem when looking for work. And as Pamela and Kristian’s clothes
are shabby and dirty, they are often mocked by their classmates.
Without Borders (MWB) supports homeless people in Sofia through its Street
Mercy project. As well as giving out warm soup and bread every weekday, we also
give out warm clothes and blankets to support people through the cold winter.
We do anything else we can: helping people access hospital treatment for
frostbite, providing them with face masks, supporting others to obtain the ID
documents they need.
12, and her brother were given sturdy winter shoes by MWB, she was delighted.
She said, “The shoes are so nice, and they’re warm and comfortable. Now all my
classmates will see that I have good shoes and won’t make fun of me.”
Mercy means a lot to us,” Stefka said. “Sometimes the food we receive from
Street Mercy is the only food we have that day. And it’s not just food – we’ve
also received shoes and clothes, blankets, and backpacks and school supplies
for the children. But most valuable of all is the friendship we’ve been given -
the care, love and hope that brings us closer to God.”
Stefka again becomes tearful when she recalls their previous life before they became homeless. Their apartment was warm, with a bathroom and a large living room where the family spent their evenings. Todor worked in the construction business, while Stefka was a wonderful stay at home mother who enjoyed preparing delicious meals for her husband and children. The whole family was happy and lacked nothing. Now, neither parent has a job. Todor finds jobs here and there, but often employers refuse to pay him. Stefka is thin and looks exhausted. Without any running water or facilities, it is difficult for the family to keep clean, which is a problem when looking for work. Both adults gather scrap metal or plastic bottles for recycling and the children help them.