For over a year now, IBTS, alongside other three partners from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Northern Ireland and Lithuania has been involved in a project called SICRIE, sponsored by the EU’s Grundvig programme. The partners meet four times during the course of the project. The first meeting took place in Prague last November; another one in Northern Ireland in May of this year; and yesterday, together with other colleagues, I have returned from the third which took us to Sofia, Bulgaria.
Plovdiv, where I went with a few others, sounds like fun; and fun it was, of course, to see its 2nd century AD amphitheatre dug out just a few decades ago, the the Roman stadium, or the Djumaya mosque. But what has made the greatest impact on all of us was a walk through a Turkish-speaking Roma district – really, a ghetto. We were welcomed there by a German family of “real” missionaries – you know, the ones who actually live, rather than only serve, there, who have their children marrying the locals (yes, including someone from the ghetto itself)… “Real” missionaries who asked us not to take pictures because they don’t want the inhabitants to feel like in a zoo. That by itself spoke worlds about the respect we were expected to have for those people, and yet also a sense of realism of the hardships one should expect to encounter when settling in such a challenging setting. (more…)