The first day we, (me, an American college student, a Bulgarian teenager (our translator), and a friend who is the director of the orphanages in Pazardijhk), got there we mostly talked to the lady who was in charge of both of the houses. It was a wonderful conversation as she told us more information about each child in the house and how their needs were and weren’t being met. She told us about a child who would cry every time it was meal time. At first they couldn’t figure out why and then they realized that this child was used to living in the old orphanage where adults would come in just to feed them and then leave. Therefore this child who longed to have interaction with adults but couldn’t communicate that, was still believing that these new adults would treat her the same way. Over time this little girl stopped crying at meal time as the adults that are now in her life are right there beside her 24/7. As we talked more about the week and what our plans might be for the children, I mentioned some various activities that I do with my students and the director got really excited about them.
The next day we came with some beach balls, a parachute, and some vacation bible school crafts that I figured some of the children could do and others could do with some assistance. We had a lot of fun helping the children hold the parachute and toss the balls up and down as well as making a cross out of sand. I brought some bubbles which created a lot of smiles and laughter as well. The next day the principal walked in and to my surprise she had the exact materials I had talked about in order to have a sensory experience with the children. I opened up the corn starch packets and added a little water and we made our own sensory bin. One of the little boys who only has two words but communicates a lot through pointing, played with this fun material for at least an hour. Huge smiles came across his face as he picked it up and let it fall out of his hands. I showed the other staff how you can put this sensory activity on a cookie sheet and bring it to the other students who are wheel chair bound. Many of the children have little mobility in their arms and legs and are not able to feed themselves. I picked up the little girl’s hand and ran it through the weird feeling corn starch/water combination.
Each day that we went back that week the principal kept buying materials from the store that I had mentioned in order to create sensory activities. I showed them how to make fake snow with baking soda, how to make your own play dough, and how fun it can be to play with shaving cream. So much joy was brought to my heart as the principal was so enthusiastic about each activity as she played with the children. I could tell she cared deeply for each child who lives there and truly wants to do everything she can to show them love each day. As we talked (through a translator at times), she told me that all of the children were not used to drinking straight water as they were never given water in the old orphanage, therefore they refuse to drink it now. I suggested that they mix in a little bit of juice with the water and slowly fade out the amount of juice they put into it. She immediately tried this with the little girl sitting right in front of me. Sure enough the little girl drank the watered down juice after refusing to drink just plain water! I thanked the Lord for this moment as I had been praying that He would use me in any way He chose to be of some help to them. He answered! Psalm 31:5 says, “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you.”
Thank you Macedonian Outreach for providing support to these two houses filled with children whom the Lord created and loves. It was a privilege to go there on your behalf and spend time feeding children, playing with children, and supporting/encouraging the staff to keep up the great work of caring for these children.
-Kerri Perdew, Volunteer
Picture of us playing with fake snow
Picture of the corn starch water mixture that he played with for hours