A struggling Roma family experiences the joy of Christmas

“Thank you because I see that good still exists."

Krupnik is a village in southwestern Bulgaria where many Roma families live in poverty. Unemployment is very high, and work is often temporary and low-paid. 

Ivan, 34, works as a laborer when he can get a job, but he can't afford everything his big family needs. The house they live in is in very bad shape; they have no toilet or bathroom, no running water, and little furniture.

His wife Adriana, 31, said, "There are many nights when my children go to bed hungry because there's nothing to put on the table. My heart breaks – but that's our reality.

"Because we don't have water at home, I can't bathe my children and wash their clothes to go out anywhere, or to school. There is no way the younger ones can go to kindergarten; we have no money for clothes and shoes. I'm glad that at least the older ones, Valentina and Ivan, are studying at high school. They are my pride and joy. They fill water in bottles from the city fountain and then heat it on the stove at home. 

"Valentina helps me with raising the younger children and tries to keep up with the learning material as well. The truth is that daily life is a constant struggle."

The Christmas season has always been a difficult time for Adriana and Ivan. For their children, 'Christmas gift' is an unknown concept. The children could only dream of a table full of food, a house decorated with lights, and a Christmas tree with presents. 

This year, however, is different. Every Christmas, Mission Without Borders (MWB) runs Operation Christmas Love, delivering food parcels to families and elderly people living in poverty throughout eastern Europe. The boxes are filled with food necessities and also special treats such as chocolate. MWB also includes Christian literature that shares the real meaning of Christmas – and the significance of God's gift of his Son Jesus.

"Mommy, Mommy, come and see what Uncle Emil has brought to us!" Adriana's children shouted excitedly, jumping up and down. 

MWB's family worker in Krupnik, Emil Metodiev, had arrived at the family's door with Operation Christmas Love boxes – and the children couldn't wait to see what was inside.

Emil said, "Over the years, I have seen many people living in poverty, but I have never met people living in such poverty as Ivan and Adriana.

"When we took the food boxes to them, the children's eyes looked at us with such anticipation and excitement. Their faces shone with so much joy as they opened the box and saw all the goodies.”

They had never seen so much food in one place – and all for them.


Adriana said, "Thank you, dear people, thank you – because, for the first time, someone has come to my house and given us something for Christmas. Thank you because I can feed my children, thank you that at least over the Christmas period, I can be calm and don't have to worry about tomorrow. Thank you because I see that good still exists."

Emil added, "The Operation Christmas Love campaign brought warmth and peace to Adriana's family this holiday season.

"But the greatest gift of all is that, once again, thanks to our donors, we are reaching the hearts of more people, showing them the love and care of our Heavenly Father."

With your help, we can reach more families in eastern Europe this Christmas. Will you join us? To find out more about Operation Christmas Love click here.

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42 000

Operation Christmas Love boxes are planned for distribution to families, individuals and the elderly across our six field countries, including 10 000 to those in war-torn Ukraine.

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