I first went to Bulgaria in 1997 and was immediately hooked by the people, the children and the need for volunteers to raise funds to improve things. I think the children in the homes were the ones that inspired me to get involved. They are so desperately needy, but they greet you with smiles, laughter and love. As soon as you walk in to their world, you are surrounded by them, they are hanging off every available hand, arm, leg etc. They just want to be with you. That is so powerful and the reason I take others to see for themselves. I love seeing the older ones start to make something of their lives - making the most of the slightest opportunity to better their circumstances.
CR The young people that are able to go to the Halfway Houses are much more likely to be able to find work, keep their jobs and become an integrated part of society. They are also, in many cases, taught to read and write and to improve their basic maths skills. Others have speech therapy and other medical interventions that should have happened many years earlier, but because of their lack of parental support, this did not happen. Fund raising is an on-going activity. Over the last few years, I have been involved in raising in excess of £25k. In the last year, the figure has been around £6000. In the long term, Star of Hope would like to expand the Halfway houses to take in more young people to give more of them a chance.