We will not change the world during our service and we won’t fix all Bulgaria’s problems while we are here. I can accept these terms and will not be losing sleep over it. I can’t say the same about coming to terms with the realities how little I can do for my kids.
I have gone red in the face explaining how work with youth ‘at-risk’ is not synonymous with dealing with ‘bad kids’. They are faced with circumstances beyond their control and put into the sort of situations that force kids to grow up fast. Work with these kids may demand more but it’s understandable considering these kids hurt more. We can’t erase their pasts or replace the cards they were never dealt. We struggle to protect them while we have them and have no control over what may come once they leave.
Two years is a long enough time to find a few kids that you love become the real life examples of what a childhood at-risk puts them all at risk of. It’s these 18 year-old’s get swept up and trafficked,
and these girls that become child brides at 13.
The kids painted
while I made up fairly unimpressive rap lyrics with each of their names. Notice how I’m the only one laughing?
My painting partner moved into the orphanage this week. At nine, he will be attending school for the first time this year.
It took me far too long to realize the reason he wasn’t participating. I showed him how to use the paint and while we practiced the Bulgarian names for each color. After the introduction he couldn’t be stopped.
The girls got side-tracked. 8 going on 20.
Not quite too cool for me yet.
Today the kids celebrated Halloween at school.
My counterpart and I helped our 5th graders carve their pumpkins.
I also gave an impromptu lesson on knife safety. (Thanks TVSR)
Under that mask is 20 minutes worth of face painting art. We’re talking butterfly wings, color gradients, and glitter. The mask was obviously cooler.
My youngest from the orphanage with his friend from 1st Class.
The kids from 3B were awful giggly. Closer observation suggests the markers may have been left unsupervised.
C proudly displaying her prize for best costume.
These are the B-27′s. The final group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Bulgaria. We clean up rather well.
Dancing a particularly fast paced horo in my town’s traditional costume.
This is a documentary that aired on Bulgarian television to celebrate the closing of the Peace Corps Program in Bulgaria. (English Subtitles)
We broke out the paint this afternoon.
Everyone grabbed their favorite color and got to it.
A few countries fell off the map in the mayhem.
We’re not pointing fingers.
The director gave us permission to paint the back walls of the orphanage yard.
We have started the first section off with a World Map.
“Are you going to give us prizes for this?”
“Prizes? No. Why would I give you a prize? This isn’t a contest. We’re all working together.”
“But this is work.”
Obviously missing the point.
“No. I know! We’re like volunteers! Volunteers like Lauren.”
Well, whatever. Close enough.
“This is meant to be for fun,” I said convincing no one.
The map had started to take shape by Sunday morning and the kids were much enthusiastic about getting involved.
The kids all enjoyed it and wandered to and from the wall throughout the day.
They took to arriving in shifts and someone was always keeping me company.
There were many snack breaks and I had a constant supply of apples.
We had finished the sketching by the afternoon.
We traced pencil makes of the real borders with markers in preparation to paint.
The older girls were a huge help, double checking with the keys to catch the mistakes.
The little kids were a little too anxious and a little less careful in their excitement to get to the paint.
There were a lot of extra countries in the early stages of the map.
We worked until 7pm on Sunday before calling time-out.
The older girls and I have spent some time painting over and correcting the mistakes.
The whole group returns tomorrow and they’re all eager to help paint.