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MISSION WITHOUT BORDERS
"Reaching people for Christ: Helping people out of poverty into a sustainable future."

A Thrilling Trip

The -children -on -the -train -1

After School children in Bulgaria Travel on a Narrow Gauge Train

13/07/2018

"I had never been on a train and I was thrilled. I was glad I could see it and touch it. It was a wonderful experience."


Twelve-year-old Maria Stefanova was one of 40 children from Mission Without Borders' (MWB) After School projects in Gotse Delchev and Krupnik who went on an exciting trip this Spring.


The children with MWB staff and volunteers took the narrow-gauge railway line from Dobrinishte to Velingrad - the only working railway of its kind in Bulgaria. It is a tourist attraction as well as a means of transportation for local people.


Near -the -lake -in -Velingrad

 

The children who go to After School club come from backgrounds of poverty where providing necessities such as food and heating is an everyday struggle. Most of them had never even seen a train before, let alone travelled on one, and they had lots of questions.


"Is there water on the train?"

"What about a toilet?"

"How does the train take the turns?"

"Who is the man with a red cap and a stick in his hand and what is he doing?"


Fortunately, MWB coordinator Ventsislav Bozhikov was with them - and he has a degree from the University of Transport, specialising in railway transport. He patiently answered their questions and explained to the children all they wanted to know about railways and trains. The children learned interesting facts about how the railway connects the three mountains Rila, Pirin and the Rhodopes.


The three-hour train journey passed through beautiful scenery. When it suddenly entered one of the many tunnels on the route, many of them were afraid as they had never been in a tunnel before, but as they became used to them, they started enjoying them.


The route goes through the highest railway station in the Balkans - Avramovi kolibi (Abraham's huts), situated at the altitude of 1267m. The train reduced its speed to 2km /hour and Ventsislav explained that as the road is very steep, it had move slowly so that the engines would not overheat.


In Velingrad, they visited Kleptuza, the artificial lake that the town is famous for. In the park next to the lake, the children played ball, badminton, rope jumping and ate their lunch. On their way back home on the train, some were singing songs, others were telling stories and still others fell asleep, tired from the long journey and all the excitement.


Playing -badminton

"I was looking forward to that trip as I have never been on a train. Some of my friends have seen it in a picture but I haven't, so I had no clue what to expect. I liked riding through the tunnel, as well as going to the lake," said Slavcho Apostolov, one of the children.


Volunteer Spaska Ventsislavova added, "For the children from the Roma community it was a wonderful time filled with positive emotions. Most of them can't afford such an outing and now they can tell their friends from personal experience what riding on a train is like."
MWB's After School clubs support children from vulnerable backgrounds by giving them a place where they receive help with homework, hear Bible lessons and enjoy a nutritious meal. We also want to teach them about the world around them and give them new, enriching experiences.

The trip on the narrow-gauge train was a joyful, educational experience that they will always remember.