buildings and street

Tulovo

Bulgaria

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a shack
OUR COMMUNITY

Located a mere 17 kilometers north of Stara Zagora and an entire world away is the village of Tulovo. An impoverished town, of about 1,300 people, lying in the heart of Bulgaria, Tulovo’s residents have few opportunities for economic progress. The population is nearly evenly divided between Roma (Gypsy) and ethnic Bulgarians. Possibilities for good employment are few and far between as most of the Roma population works in menial services such as sweeping sidewalks or hauling trash, or agricultural jobs either nearby or in the village itself. The local school provides a mediocre education at best, with most Bulgarian families sending their children to school in the nearby city. Relationships between school staff and parents are poor. Parents rarely attend required student-teacher meetings and see little need for education. Violence and student apathy are huge problems. Good relationships between the ethnic Bulgarians and Roma are a positive factor in the community, but truly meaningful and good paying jobs are few and far away; gainful employment remains a great need. The only evangelical church is located in a small decrepit shack that needs repair. Naturally, the Roma community attends this church while most of the Bulgarian population is either completely unchurched or nominally affiliated with a small Orthodox church in town.

children playing
OUR WORK

Our current ministry consists of teaching adults to lead Bible studies for children. This has been ongoing for the past 7-8 years. A major area of focus will be the local school, working to encourage and motivate teachers toward excellence, and partner together to improve the learning atmosphere and level of education of the children. As we expand to other areas of need, we would like to begin teaching English conversation classes in the local elementary school to help the staff and students. While doing this, we hope to improve the relationship between the school staff and Roma families in the community. We hope to come alongside the church leadership to start a children’s afterschool group open to the entire village reaching the Bulgarian as well as Roma young people.

Our most difficult task next will be to integrate the church to include both Bulgarians and Roma. Even though relationships between these two ethnic groups are positive, they rarely interact together. Many old social prejudices and traditions keep these two groups apart. However, through special programs celebrating holidays, such as Easter and Christmas, we hope to break the ice and build bridges.  Of course, we will continue to identify and equip local Roma believers to be involved in leadership positions within church ministries.

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