Archive for January, 2009

What I’m Reading

30 January, 2009

Novinar, via the Embassy Daily Press Brief:

The top story on front page of the newspaper as well as in other newspapers today is the news that Bulgaria will replenish its gene pool with Danish sperm. The sperm from the EU is of higher quality, says a sub headline to the story. Yesterday at the session of the Parliamentary Commission on Health, Atanas Shterev said that for some years now “Danish babies” are being born in Bulgaria. The reason for this import is in the high requirements to the donors, which decreases the quantity in the sperm banks in Bulgaria. This forces the hospitals to enter into contracts with foreign companies. Pg. 1

Not sure what I should say, so I’m not going to say anything at all.

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Border Tensions

28 January, 2009

This doesn’t directly impact me or my work here, but it’s been in the news quite a bit recently. Greek farmers have a beef with Bulgaria, saying they have been flooding the Greek market with cheaper commodities and it’s ruining several farmers. In response, several rouge Greek farmers have set up blockade on the main road to Bulgaria (as well as Macedonia and Turkey) and this has been going on for nine days!

Greek roadblocks anger Bulgaria

Picture (Device Independent Bitmap)

Lorry drivers fear their cargoes will spoil while they wait at the border

Bulgaria has asked the European Commission to intervene because a border blockade by Greek farmers is preventing goods getting through.

In a letter to the commission, Bulgaria said its hauliers were incurring heavy losses and it demanded that Greece open a transport corridor.

The farmers want help from the Greek government as their industry has been hit by low food prices and bad weather.

They say an aid offer worth 500m euros (£468m; $650m) does not go far enough.

The farmers are now into their ninth day of protests, which have also shut border crossings to Turkey and Macedonia.

Bulgaria’s main road transport association, Basat, says it will sue the Greek state for compensation. It estimated that by Saturday the Greek protest had caused Bulgaria losses of nearly 10m euros, not counting losses from non-fulfilment of contracts.

These blockades can also make for some humorous stories, such as:

Greek Farmers Attempt to Invade Bulgaria in Protest, Border Blockaded

Click to enlarge the photo
Greek farmers tried to storm the Bulgarian border after midnight on Thursday. Photo by actualno.com

About 100 Greek farmers with tractors invaded Bulgaria’s territory briefly at about 1 am Thursday close to the Kulata Border Crossing Point, the BGNES news agency reported.

Many of the Greek farmers are reported to have been drunk. Their group was accompanied by teams from three Greek TV channels.

The farmers advanced with 15 tractors through the bridge on the Bistritsa River close to Kulata. They were met immediately by the Bulgarian border police, and told them they wanted to enter into Bulgaria as part of their ongoing protests against falling commodity prices.

So yea, my country got invaded by drunk farmers (not to belittle the plight of the Greeks, but it is amusing). Thanfully, we were able to repel them.

Dental Project

28 January, 2009

One of the projects I’ve been working on for a while has been to teach my kindergarten class proper dental hygiene. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been shot down by lots of companies both in Bulgaria and international as well as several professional organizations. In the end, I just asked my dentist from the US and picked up a supply of trial-sized kid’s toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Dental hygiene doesn’t seem to be a high priority for many Bulgarians (purely from my observations) as I have seen several people with poor teeth. It’s usually the older generations, but the youth are no exception. Many kids have cavities in my class and there is at least one student whose baby teeth are rotting out. Hopefully, my project will stem the tide.

I partnered with a local dentist to teach this lesson (since my dental vocab is pretty limited).  We went over healthy foods, dental care and how often you should see a dentist. I covered more of the “how to” part of the lesson. I told them that it’s best to brush twice a day and for at least three minutes (play a song and brush for the length of it. Just don’t pick the Бяла Роза! (it’s like, 45 minutes long!))

Here’s to hoping they make a habit out of it!