Mission Without Borders
"Reaching people for Christ: helping thousands of children, families and communities out of poverty into a sustainable future"

Going the extra mile on the streets of Sofia



The homeless people living on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital city, are just as invisible here as they are anywhere. Outsiders, they are unable to participate in those things that make up an ordinary life: keeping clean and warm, accessing healthcare, finding employment and going home to rest and be safe. They see the people of Sofia hurry past towards their homes and loved ones, and they remain outside in sub-zero temperatures, battling hunger and frostbite, hopelessness and despair.
Life on the city streets
But in Sofia, they are seen and known by somebody who models Christ's love to them: Anna Atanasova, their champion. Anna is the StreetMercy coordinator for Mission Without Borders (MWB) in the city. Through her, many of the homeless community are seeing for themselves the sacrificial love that Jesus has for them. Anna passionately models the love of a God who seeks and saves the lost and who gives up everything to bring them home.
There are 500,000 homeless people throughout Bulgaria, reports Caritas Bulgaria, a non-profit organisation. Bulgaria's capacity of just 755 beds for the homeless in its temporary accommodation centres and poorhouses is nowhere near sufficient to meet the need. And homelessness is especially painful in Bulgaria, where there is heavy snow in winter and temperatures can drop to below -15 degrees.
Our hero
Mission Without Borders' StreetMercy Project seeks to provide the homeless of Sofia with hot meals - but once the food has been distributed, Anna and the other MWB workers talk to them and discover their other needs. She said, "We try to offer them emotional, spiritual, material, administrative and medical support. We try to reduce the burden in their lives as much as we can, as the challenges in front of them are numerous."
The reasons for their homelessness are as varied as they are anywhere: some suffer from addictions, some have always known poverty, whereas others once enjoyed high social status and success but fell on hard times.

Healthcare is one area that Anna loves to help rough sleepers with - and this is only possible because of StreetMercy's good relationship with several hospitals in Sofia. She said, "As a rule, no medical institution wants to help such people as they are not medically insured. But when I as a coordinator take them to these hospitals we find all doors open and we witness miracles."