Breaking Free

Maria’s story

The chance to be carefree children

Gotse Delchev is a beautiful region of Bulgaria, rich in history and popular with tourists. However, high unemployment levels and low wages also mean many families live in poverty.  

Maria, who is only nine years old, lives in Gotse Delchev, and despite her young age, she has already encountered significant upheaval in her life. Her mother, Nikolina, is unemployed, and her dad, Slavcho, works at a car wash – but isn’t paid well enough to meet all his family’s needs. The family doesn’t have their own home and has had to share with various relatives, moving from one set of grandparents to another.

“All of these changes and the many problems the family went through affected the children in different ways,” shares Ventsislav, a family worker employed by Mission Without Borders (MWB). As part of the family sponsorship program they are enrolled in, he frequently visits the family and provides various forms of support.

He added, “We often don’t realize what’s going on in our children’s minds and hearts, but as they grow, many things become apparent.”

Maria had developed many insecurities and was very shy. She preferred playing and being by herself and relied heavily on her parents.

When Ventsislav invited Maria to go to the summer camp organized by MWB, she wasn’t sure whether she’d manage on her own for a whole week away from her mother.  

Summer camp aims to give each child a wonderful week-long treat, with the chance to be carefree children and take a break from any responsibilities, chores, or worries they face. The children receive emotional and spiritual support, swim, play games, make new friends, and hear all about the gospel and the love Jesus has for them.  

“During the first days of the camp, Maria wouldn’t leave my side,” said Elena. She is a MWB volunteer who helped out at the camp and is also an after-school teacher at the MWB center in Gotse Delchev.

“She was crying, looking for attention, had a constant headache, and came to me every time before meals to ask me what she should and shouldn’t eat,” Elena continued.  

“There was such a significant difference in Maria after summer camp. At camp, she was able to overcome what was holding her back from participating and enjoying life. She started communicating and laughing freely with other children, not just those her own age. 

“We couldn’t get her out of the pool! And the songs - she would not stop humming all the time, memorizing every song and every Bible verse. What a change! Unbelievable. God helped this child to overcome her fears.”

Maria said, “This summer was so special for me! I’m not used to being with so many children, and it was a bit uncomfortable at first, but after a few days, I started to feel so good, enjoying every snack, every game, every walk, every conversation.

“I can’t believe how nervous I was coming to the camp, but now I don’t want to go home. I learned many new and good things, met so many new friends, and had fun like never before.  

I had fun like never before.


“In one of the Bible lessons, we were told that Jesus taught us to pray for one another, and I realized how true that is. Since then, I’ve started praying for my mother and father, my new friends, and my teacher Elena. Thank you for giving me an unforgettable week!”

Ventsislav said, “When I asked Maria what the best part of the camp was, she answered, ‘Everything!’ without thinking twice.”

While summer camp may only last a week, its impact is often felt for life. For Maria, she will always look back and remember summer camp as the time when she broke out of a place of isolation and insecurity – and discovered the fun of friendship and community. Find out today how you can support our summer camps and help children like Maria connect with God and others.  

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Children will have the opportunity to attend one of MWB’s Summer Camps

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