When Maria Glezos travelled to Popovo, Bulgaria to visit the older child orphanage there to visit her future son, she anticipated poverty. But nothing prepared her for the empty eyes, the hopelessness and the squalor she encountered. 82 children in Popovo are housed in a ramshackle building that was formerly used as a technical school. Cold, echoing empty rooms, broken water pipes, two working toilets for 82 kids, urine stained mattresses, rotten pillows, lack of warm clothing, and broken windows, all of it horrified her to the core. The children smelled terribly from not taking baths. There was no hot water. There were no games, no balls, no toys. Nothing but misery. Maria contacted me last summer and told me of the tremendous needs in Popovo. As a Christian broadcaster and adoptive parent of two from Eastern Europe, I have found radio and television to be a bully pulpit for spreading the word about waiting children around the world and helping coordinate humanitarian aid for orphanages in need. Popovo quickly grabbed my heart. I have a son who is now nearly 17 who was adopted from Buglaria four years ago and my husband and I could not imagine him living this way. With the help of Maria Glezos, we have begun a project to aid the children of Popovo. Their needs extend far beyond the obvious physical things. These children need academic attention and mentoring, structure, discipline and moral training if they are to have any kind of a future. None of these children are currently adoptable and their only hope lies in a change in their living conditions. The region in which they live explains much about the condition of the orphanage. Popovo has an unemployment rate of around 80 percent. When intact families are struggling to buy bread for their families, orphanages are going to certainly struggle.
Our immediate goals are to provide for the physical needs of the children. That includes new mattresses and pillows, blankets, clothing, repaired water pipes and restored hot water, etc. We have raised about $8,000 for these needs. The long term goals are to oversee a reform in the structure of the orphanage that will ensure that younger children are separated from the older, that mentors and sufficient caregivers are hired and that a nurturing atmosphere is created. These long term goals will take time to develop, and many obstacles will come up. But we are confident that with God, all things are possible. Our Popovo project is a single candle in the darkness for these children who have been discarded by everyone in their lives. Maria remembers the empty eyes she saw and it haunts her. Those eyes haunt me as well. My husband Tom is headed for Popovo in the middle of February to assess the needs with our coordinator and begin the process of purchasing needed items for the orphanage. We pray that God will use our efforts to show love to children who have been forgotten. If you would like to see photos of the orphanage and read about the orphanage project, visit our website at http://www.ftchildren.org . We will post updates as we have information. Above all, remember these lost children in your prayers. Jeremiah 29 :11. "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, Plans to give you a hope and a future . .." Ingrid Schlueter Popovo Project VCY America Radio Network P.O. Box 08385 Milwaukee, WI 53208 (414) 607-1757