On May 17, 2014, COHEU sponsored a Festival of Hope in Nessebar, Bulgaria, an historic city on the Black Sea. There were about 120 volunteers from 7 different churches in the region prepared to serve the guests that day. Around 1,500 adults and 250 children attended the festival, which started in the morning and ended at night with a concert by Menora, a gospel group from Bourgas. We had areas for haircuts, manicures, and medical checkups. There were also many games available for all ages like chess, foosball, and table tennis. Children’s activities included balloon animals, paper flower crafts, face painting, and a bouncy castle. There was even a portrait artist and seaside souvenirs given out. Bethel, an organization who works with rehabilitating drug addicts, also had a table to introduce their services to the community. Christian Rockers, a motorcycle club, performed free motor inspections and took photos of people on their bikes. The children had fun posing for pictures! We also gave out 2,000 sandwiches with water, coffee, ice cream and cake and had great feedback from the community on how they were impacted by the compassion shown for the people of their town. Thank you to everyone who made this day not only a possibility, but a great success!
Easterhouse Community Church is situated in an old bingo hall in the middle of a local shopping center in Glasgow’s East End. With a population of 27,000, it is an inner city area associated with generational issues of extreme poverty, gangs, drugs, addiction, crime and hopelessness. On Saturday, 10th of August, 2013, Convoy of Hope Europe sponsored a major community event with Easterhouse Community Church for the second year running. Even more local residents - over 1400 - from local housing estates turned up to enjoy the day and the sun shone over them in every possible way. The kids enjoyed a fun afternoon with face painting, bouncy castles, games and tombolas. Meanwhile, the mothers could get a manicure and hand massage - as well as a day off from cooking as over 650 free burger lunches were handed out to families. There was an excellent variety of live music throughout the day, which entertained all age groups and brought a carnival atmosphere to the square attracting passers-by. Areas to sit, chat and get to know each other saw new friendships being formed and socially isolated people were given the opportunity to feel included and part of the community. Families did not leave empty handed; over 150 food parcels were distributed on the day, along with 400 gift bags for young children. Pastor Stuart Patterson expressed his deep gratitude. “Without Convoy of Hope Europe this event would not have happened at all, let alone on such a massive scale. Arise Easterhouse symbolizes everything our church is about and our heart for this disenfranchised community.” Stuart’s wife, Co-Pastor Tracy Patterson commented, “It has taken another layer off ‘church’ and allowed us to make new relationships. We were able to be accessible and approachable. It was a brilliant day, the best one yet!” For more information on Easterhouse, click here To donate to this project, click here
The COHEU team recently traveled 4 hours into the northwest mountain region of Bulgaria to reach the small village of Novo Selo, located on the Danube River, population, 1,015. Once a thriving community of over 7,000, producing grapes for the surrounding wineries, today, Novo Selo has the feeling of a ghost town. The majority of the wineries are gone, stores are closed, and there is no industry nor manufacturing. There is one school, no churches and one orphanage. Because of the lack of business and vocational opportunities, and resulting unemployment, the majority of the young adults have gone to larger cities. The people left in Novo Selo, according to Lord Mayor Ivan Stoenelov, are “depressed, the suicide rate is up and they feel that they have no hope.” By invitation of the mayor, COHEU brought a Day of Hope to this community on September 7th, 2013. The festival began at 10am. Smiles, music and excitement filled the air. Over 500 people attended. The children were treated to arts and crafts, two bouncy castles, face painting, foosball, skateboarding, hula hoops, ceramic painting, and story time. The older adults did not hesitate to take advantage of the medical services provided by a local doctor and nurse/nutritionist. Everyone seemed to enjoy the free sandwiches, coffee and ice cream while listening to the live music. Many of the older men enjoyed the traditional chess games while the young men competed in the ping pong tournaments. There was a steady line of women waiting for hair cuts and nail pampering, as well. With over half of the community attending, the mayor thanked Convoy of Hope Europe for bringing this Day of Hope to his community. He expressed that it was not common for everyday life here to see people enjoying themselves as they had at this festival. What an honor to be able to spread a little hope to this deserving community. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible!
From September 3rd -7th, 2013, Convoy of Hope Europe, in partnership with Lifehouse Church, Hagerstown, Maryland, dedicated a week of service to the city of Shkoder, Albania. A medical clinic was set up in two gypsy communities serving a total of 300 people with free medical check-ups. We also distributed 100 bags of clothing and 150 bags of groceries to families in the surrounding area. At the end of the week, the “One Day for our City” community event hosted 3,000 guests of honor with free medical check-ups, refreshments and a kids zone with bouncy castles, puppet dramas, games and popcorn. It was a privilege to serve the people of Shkoder, Albania for the second year in a row and we look forward to seeing this community continue to grow. Thank you to Lifehouse Church for your time and effort spent on this project!
For the fourth year in a row, Convoy of Hope Europe has partnered with Cornerstone City Church in (London)Derry, Northern Ireland for their annual “iHeartDerry” city outreach from July 1st-7th, 2013. This year we joined 80+ youths and university students from across America, along with volunteers from the local church. The week opened up with a high energy “volunteer rally” which set the atmosphere for the week to come. Volunteers were then broken up into teams and sent out to four locations; Donemana Primary School, Lisnagelvin Primary School, The Gasyard Centre, and New Pin Centre. Every morning teams held energetic, children-friendly programs which included games, songs and dance, sports, and storytelling. While this was going on, the team at New Pin Centre painted the facilities inside and out, replaced water gutters, restored the garden and installed a playground. In the afternoon, teams participated in street clean-up throughout the city. There was also a mobile medical station for blood pressure and blood sugar check-ups, and coffee/tea stations were set up as well. On July 6th, the playground at the New Pin Centre was officially opened by the Chairwoman for Development of Derry City Council. At the three locations that hosted the children's programs, an average of 243 children participated in the iHeartDerry program. We are excited to have had the privilege of seeing this project develop over the years and look forward to seeing how this year’s events continue to encourage this fantastic community!