The village of Tazha is in central Bulgaria in what is known as the Valley of the Thracian Kings. The population numbers around 1500, evenly divided among Gypsys and Bulgarians. Most people's livelihood depends on agriculture. Access to "food" is not of great concern so we will focus mainly on the areas of "freedom and forgiveness". Tazha has its own kindergarten and primary school, but the Bulgarian population send their children to a neighboring town for school and so Tazha's school is small and has only Gypsy pupils. There are specific needs at both ends of this spectrum - to help children who do not speak Bulgarian in the home to get a good start in school so they do not become demoralized, and to help those in 6-7th grade (especially girls) to keep up their grades and stay in school. Drop-outs are a major contributing factor to social inequality.
In addition to the school, youth of all ages basically have nothing to do during the winter months and stretches of bad weather. The village actually has a room renovated for this purpose, but it has gone unused as no adult wants to take on the responsibility of organizing it. I foresee providing a place where they can come, enjoy cheap refreshments and play games, watch a movie or just talk.
The town has little or no spiritual presence - the Orthodox church only works on holidays or for special occasions, the small number of Muslims have no mosque and an evangelical church in another town, which tried to start a church a few years ago, saw it only grow to a couple families in the home of one local Christian and decided to curtail their efforts. I want the residents to know that God has not forgotten Tazha.
The school has one general study hall for all the students from 5-7th grade and the students have little in the way of textbooks and workbooks because they are no longer provided with government funds after fourth grade. Additionally, I would like to focus on the sixth and seventh grade girls (as a starting point) because Bulgarian gypsy cultural tradition often leads to them dropping out of school - either to get married or to avoid being taken as a wife/daughter-in-law by an undesirable family!
The square in the middle of the village is a perfect place to go and meet people during the warm seasons. The second floor of this building would be a great location for a community center or church service, but it is owned privately and has been left derelict for too long! Pray for us to find a place in the village where the residents can come and feel at home.
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INTEGRATED COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION
When we enter a community, we seek to relate to and understand the community through the eyes of Jesus. This includes pre-training and ongoing on-field research.
EVALUATE and ENGAGE
We repeat a collaborative cycle that aims to work alongside others in the community to identify and assess both needs and resources. Alongside the community, we encourage initiatives guided by a strategy and help implement them.
As transformation takes hold in a community our role changes. We avoid creating unhealthy dependencies and focus on what Jesus is doing within the community. This typically leads to expansion as transformation impacts surrounding communities.