One down, one hundred and three to go!

I now have internet in my apartment. You can expect to find the cunning witticisms and insightful insights you’ve grown to expect to find here. Or at least see what I’ve been up to.

I can’t believe that my first week here has flown by. I’ve gotten know several people via dance class as well as people on the street. I have gotten some ideas for projects as well as starting to teach next week. My colleagues have suggested that I build on the project of the volunteer I’m replaced. He received a SPA (Small Project Assistance) Grant to repair the roof of one of the municipality’s village hospitals. This grant was coupled with health lectures for the villagers. My counter part has asked me to look into writing a grant to repair the actual rooms in the hospital. Hope to visit soon. I briefly met one of the doctors and he was enthusiastic that showed interested. Unfortunately, I cannot submit a grant for the first three months and USAID pulled out of Bulgaria when they joined the EU. This means they will only be offering these grants until the end of 2008. But there are several organizations that offer grants for such projects. In fact, with the accession to the EU, there have been several more candidates for local office. They believe (and I don’t know if this is true or not) that with membership, it is easier to get money for project. I do know, however, that the European Union spent a lot of money in Bulgaria to help get them up to their high standards. It seems that every highway I’ve been on has benefited from EU funds. In fact, in Rila, where I did my training, there were several churches that had received funds for restoration. Not bad for a town of 3,000!

As for this past week, if the rest of my time here in Bulgaria follows suit, I can’t wait! Everyone has been so nice and I feel more and more “at home”. Keep it up, Bulgaria.

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