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Giving People Dignity

Over the past four years, FCTrelief and its subsidiary association "Heart for Bulgaria" have supported five excursions for retired people with disabilities from Bratsigovo, Bulgaria. In this way, we provide people the opportunity for a change of scenery and give them dignity. Gordon Merk reports.

The association for people with disabilities in Bratsigovo regularly organizes excursions so that people with disabilities can experience something out of the ordinary from time to time. Everyday life often doesn't offer much, so they appreciate such excursions all the more. This gives them the dignity that is often withheld. What many people in the West take for granted, other people appreciate as something special. FCTrelief makes it possible.


Bulgaria is a very beautiful country and offers many sights. It is also known as "the Switzerland of Eastern Europe." This is not because of its economic situation (Bulgaria is the poorest country in the EU), but because of its landscape: forests, mountains, riversBulgaria's nature is beautiful. It even has a sea to offer, the Black Sea.


Excursions with Places of Interest

Bulgaria has a long, rich history. The first civilizations in the Bulgarian territory are among the oldest in Europe, Plovdiv (formerly known as "Philippopolis" after Philip, the father of Alexander the Great) is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Europe. Later, the territory of Bulgaria was part of the Roman Empire. The first Christian emperor Constantine I wanted to make Serdika (the Roman name of Bulgaria's later capital Sofia) the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Kingdom of Bulgaria was founded in 681.


As a result, there are many places of interest throughout the country. The museums, monasteries and monuments bear witness to this. And it is precisely such places that are the destinations of the excursions we support. In 2020, the trip went to Shipka, where both a church and a stone tower stand as monuments. The decisive battle against the Ottoman Empire was won there despite being outnumbered.


In 2022, a group from the association visited museums, churches and monasteries in Assenovgrad and Kalofer. Monasteries were important places of protection and education during the Ottoman occupation (from the mid-14th century). The Christian faith was retained and passed on despite oppression. Hence the close connection between history and religion in Bulgariatheir faith in God gave them strength during this very difficult time. Beautiful, often melancholic songs and poems date from this time of tribulation. One year later, the group from Bratsigovo went to the beautiful monastery in Bachkovo and then higher up into the mountains to the memorial site "Krastova Gora" ("the forest of the cross"). This year's excursion went to Karlovo and then Kazanlak, known for its Bulgarian roses and rose oil.

Winter Socks for Zambia


As a small token of this gratitude, the association, led by Dimitrika Kaneva, launched a campaign for our children in Zambia. In addition to clothing, hats and other items, many handmade Bulgarian winter socks were also donated. Someone asked whether such thick socks are needed at all in Africa, the "continent of the sun." My answer was that for them from plus 15 degrees it is already "cold"... and if you look at the domestic situations of some of our children, such thick socks are very practical as a kind of "slippers."


These special wool socks are called "Terlitsi." Each pair is unique, an original. And this was also the symbolic message to our children in Zambia: they are all unique and original! The joy was great, as was the gratitude. The surprise over such socks, which they had never seen before, was special. The campaign was a success! The Bulgarian media reported on it, especially with a video in which the children said "Blagodaria" (thank you) in Bulgarian. Heart for Bulgaria is grateful.

This has created a special link between the work of FCTrelief in Bulgaria and Zambia. The women who knit these socks are enthusiastic and more are already being collected. This task also gives them the joy and dignity of being able to do something for others. Not only are they out and about despite their disability, they are also active. We are grateful to them. Sometimes small things can really make a big difference.


Support our work however you can. It is worth it. Thank you!


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