To God be the glory: Pleven update

October 29th, 2012



Friends, may I present to you, with tears of joy, the latest and greatest update on the Pleven baby house, copied by permission from Shelley Bedford’s blog:


Last week, Toni, who is the director of the Bulgarian non-governmental organization responsible for overseeing the Pleven Medical Fund (PMF), went to Pleven to visit with the new director and to see, first hand, the changes that have taken place at the Pleven orphanage. I am very pleased to report that there have been MANY WONDERFUL CHANGES since Dr. Georgieva took over as the director of the orphanage. She is truly working for the good of the children and making a lot of very positive changes at the orphanage. She has a HUGE job ahead of her and she continues to need a lot of help to fund all the necessary projects that need to be completed to ensure that ALL of the children living at the orphanage in Pleven have all of their needs met. There are so many older children who suffered YEARS of neglect and the condition that they are in as a result of that won’t be fixed quickly.

Below is a report of some of the positive changes that have already happened, some of the changes that are in the process of happening and future projects that we will be seeking donations for:

Changes that have already been made:

1.) One of the first changes Dr. Georgieva made was to the kitchen staff. The entire staff was fired and replaced by a staff that would make feeding the children good quality food a priority. The glass beer bottles used to feed the children are GONE. The liquid mixtures of flour and low calorie liquids are GONE. The children are being fed high quality solid foods. All the children that are capable are being taught to eat from a spoon and they are fed foods with as thick of a texture as they can tolerate. The children who still require bottle feeding are fed while sitting upright and given time to digest their food. Their caloric intake has been increased to an acceptable amount needed so that they can grow and gain weight. GONE are the days of the children having a bottle shoved in their mouth while they were lying flat on their back. GONE are the days of the quick 2-3 minute feedings. The staff is required to take time feeding each child individually and this is monitored. How is it monitored? Well, that is the next positive change!

2.) Dr. Georgieva installed CAMERAS throughout the orphanage to monitor the staff’s interactions with the children. This allows her to watch the children being fed, how the staff is holding the children, how often diapers are being changed….and when staff members are sitting around chatting and not working with kids. All of this is being strictly monitored. As you can imagine, not everyone is happy about this change. There has been some staff turn over as Dr. Georgieva works to ensure that only people who truly want to be there caring for the children are on staff.

3.) All the children are having their diapers changed 5-6 times a day at a minimum. Again, this is monitored using the cameras and the director is holding the staff accountable for this as well. For those interested in donating money designated specifically for diapers, this can now be done through the PMF. The diapers will be purchased and given to the orphanage and an official donation receipt will be issued by the orphanage, translated and provided to the donor. If you are interested in doing this, after you make the donation to the PMF, please send me a copy of the Paypal invoice via email ( so that I can ensure that the correct amount is designated specifically for diapers and that you receive a donation certificate after the diapers are purchased.

All donations to the PMF are tax deductible through Eli Project.

4.) If you’ve seen any photos of children that were recently adopted from Pleven (particularly, the older children), one thing that is pretty noticeable is the horrible condition their teeth are in. This was a result of the lack of nutrition and the lack of dental care. EVERY SINGLE CHILD in the orphanage has now seen a dentist (this is paid for by their National Health Insurance) and the children who need it will receive appropriate dental care.

5.) Many of the older children have osteoporosis as a result of years of malnutrition. Dr. Georgieva is in the process of beginning treatment for this. The PMF is covering the cost to have all the children tested for osteoporosis. These tests are being conducted this month. Once the results are back, all the children that have a confirmed diagnosis of osteoporosis will begin treatment for it. The estimated cost for this is $1,000, though an exact amount won’t be known until all the testing is complete. The medication required to treat the children diagnosed with osteoporosis will be covered by the Bulgarian National Health Insurance and treatment will continue for as long as it is needed.

6.) The PMF is currently working to fund a vehicle for the orphanage. This vehicle is used specifically for transporting children to medical appointments, to the hospital if they are sick, etc. The vehicle that was previously owned and used by the orphanage to transport children broke down about a month ago. The vehicle was assessed by a mechanic and it would cost more to repair the vehicle than to replace it with a different (used) vehicle. Since this vehicle is used to meet medical needs, the director asked if the PMF could help with this expense. Estimates have been received and the total amount needed to fully pay for a vehicle to be used by the orphanage for medical appointments is $2,848, which includes having the new vehicle assessed by a mechanic, purchasing the vehicle, paying the notary that does all the legal paper work and paying for the title. $1715 of that has already been raised through a fundraiser conducted by [Makayla’s mom] Susan in which she was raising money for her own adoption from Pleven and pledged to give any money donated above the amount she needed to the PMF specifically to help pay for the vehicle. So, the remaining amount needed to cover the vehicle is $1133. Since over $1700 has already been raised for this purchase, the vehicle has been secured and is already at the orphanage for use to transport the children to medical appointments. Donations can be made through the PMF to help cover the cost of the vehicle. Here are some photos of what it looks like:


7.) Dr. Georgieva has installed a GPS in the vehicle. This is so that she can strictly monitor where the vehicle goes to ensure that it is only used to transport the children to medical appointments and not being abused by the staff for personal use.

8.) Nurses have been interviewed and approved by the director to work on the 6th floor. The money to pay the salaries of these two nurses was raised through another non-governmental organization (not the PMF) and these nurses will start work as soon as the contracts are signed with the non-governmental organization. Both ladies are well qualified and eager to work with the children. One of them is even a foster parent! They are both Christians and are ready to be the hands and feet of Christ while working with the children on the 6th floor. The money was raised to cover the salary of both nurses for an entire year.

9.) Dr. Georgieva is working to establish a standard of care and expected schedule for the Babas and therapists that work at the orphanage under contract with other non-governmental organizations. She is working to ensure that these people are actually doing the job that they are being paid for and the children are receiving the maximum benefit of having these people in the orphanage each day. In the future, there will be an opportunity to fund Babas and other staff members through the PMF. However, at this time, Dr. Georgieva has asked for time to get the currently employees all working efficiently before adding any additional personnel.

10.) Dr. Georgieva has brought in a physical therapist from the University Hospital in Pleven to evaluate all the children. This physical therapist has volunteered her time and evaluation services. The doctor has made the recommendation that each child with special needs such as cerebral palsy (and any other child with a physical disability or physical delays) receives one hour of physical therapy every single day. This includes massages, positioning and the use of therapy equipment. She is helping to set up a physical therapy schedule for the children to ensure that every child who needs therapy is receiving it.

Current projects that need funding:

Dr. Georgieva has set a goal to bring EVERY CHILD in the orphanage out of their crib and down to the dining room for meal time. She wants to set it up so that at meal-times, the caretakers and the Babas will take all the healthy kids and all the kids with special needs who physically could be brought down to the dining room to eat. That would mean getting them out of the cribs, diversifying the environment of the children and teaching them that the place where you sleep is not a place where you also eat. That will also provide some walking to the kids and some change in their routine. Most importantly, that will teach them the right way of eating, being independent with spoons and get rid as much as possible of the bottles. The director is not aiming at anything luxurious or huge, she just wants to make it a cozy, bright place, as it should be for children. Several things need to be done in order for this to happen:

1.) The dining room must be completely renovated. This is what the dining room looks like now:


For THREE DECADES, it has been used as a storage room. It is in desperate need of repairs. A quote has been given for the cost to make the repairs to the dining room. This includes: removing all the old sinks and buying new ones and installing them/getting them operational; removing the old paint from the walls; ground coat of all walls; painting of all walls; removing the old windows which leak and are broken, buying new ones and installing them, replacing the doors and the lights and any other repairs that are needed to make the dining room functional. The total cost for this, which includes supplies and labor, is $1,800.

We have stepped out in faith and said, “People will step up and fund this,” and the work to clear out the dining room has already started this week.

2.) Adaptive high chairs are needed for the children with physical disabilities to sit in while in the dining room. These can be purchased for $60-100 each. Due to the fact that there are many children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities that physically limit the children’s movement, several adaptive high chairs are going to be needed in order to accommodate all the children.

$3,000 could renovate the dining room AND provide 12 adaptive high chairs so that EVERY CHILD at Pleven could be brought out of their crib and down to the dining room for meals.

If you’d like to make a donation toward the dining room renovation project, tax deductible donations can be made through Eli Project for the PMF.

Additional needs:

The orphanage needs several gait trainer walkers for use with the children. These walkers support the children’s chest while working with them on building strength and mobility. These are especially important for the older children. Dr. Georgieva is currently pricing gait trainer walkers and donations will be accepted to cover the purchase of these as well.

The final recommendation from the University doctor who has done the physical therapy evaluations is the purchase of four specific therapy devices to be used on the children with cerebral palsy, paralysis and those with disabilities that cause respiratory or lung issues. The total cost for these 4 devices, including a 2 year warranty on each device, transportation/shipping cost to get them from Sofia (where they have to be purchased from) and training on how to use the devices for the staff is $5,200. If you’d like to make a donation toward the purchase of these devices, you can do so through the PMF.

Just as a general update on how the money from the PMF has been spent to date:

Children from the orphanage are continuing to go to Tokuda for evaluations and treatment. Surgeries are being performed, children are being fitted for orthopedic shoes and splints (and these are being purchased through the PMF), blood tests, genetics test, metabolic tests, CT scans, lenses for cataract surgeries and any other medically necessary procedures are being done. Dr. Georgieva has also found doctors at the University Hospital in Pleven that are willing to provide some treatments and testing for the children at a reduced price. This option is being explored as a possibility to meet some more of the immediate needs and the medical expenses for some of the younger children that are not suffering from malnutrition and only need immediate medical care/testing, so that travel to Sofia is not required.

There is $20,600 remaining in the PMF as of the end of last week.

Now that the medical needs of the children are being met and the nutritional needs are being addressed, Dr. Georgieva has begun looking forward to what her DREAM is for the orphanage.

We asked her for her “wish list” and this is what she said:

1.) Renovating the day center, which is where the Babas and caregivers take the children to play, by adding new educational toys and learning items that have a specific purpose in improving the development of the children

2.) A sensory room

3.) A physical therapy ROOM (renovating the current space): to be equipped with a ball pit, floor to ceiling mirrors and other items used specifically for motor development

4.) Oxygen treatment equipment for the children with severe medical needs that require oxygen in order to live

Just as a side note to these “dream” items and how many children would benefit from them, since we are often asked how many children currently live in this particular orphanage:

The orphanage has 3 different “sections” that fall under Dr. Georgieva’s care. One section is what most people typically think of as a “baby orphanage”…the place where orphans from birth to age 3-4 live until they are old enough to be transferred on to the “older child orphanage” in Pleven. The second section is the older children with special needs. This is why there are older children at this orphanage. These children all have some type of medical issue or more serious special need and they stay in this section at Pleven instead of being transferred to an institution. The third section is a mother and child section. Here, mothers come with their newborns and live there. They learn how to care for their child and have the child’s physical and medical needs met. The goal of this section of the orphanage is to teach these mothers how to meet the needs of their new baby. Sadly, Dr. Georgieva reports that many of these mothers still end up leaving their babies at the orphanage. Thankfully, Bulgaria has a very active domestic adoption program, so the newborns who are healthy are adopted very quickly. The babies with special needs stay at the orphanage longer. Those with more significant special needs that are rejected by Bulgarian families for adoption are eventually registered for international adoption. Since there are 3 different sections to this orphanage, MANY children would benefit from all the proposed changes to the orphanage.

We are THRILLED to see so many positive changes happening at Pleven. The need is still great and there is still much work to be done. There are several projects that will need funding over the next year and we are praying that people will step out and offer the financial support needed to see this complete overhaul of the conditions at this orphanage come to fruition. It is a BIG job, but it can be done with the prayer and support of many.

I have debated sharing this part of the update that I received, but I believe that it is just as important as all of the rest:

We are asking for those who believe accordingly to PRAY for Dr. Georgieva and the work that she is doing. MANY changes have been made and much work has been done. Not everyone is happy with what she is doing. There are people who thought that nothing was wrong with the previous conditions at Pleven. There are many who still think that the children are not worth it. There are those standing in the background watching…and hoping that Dr. Georgieva fails at what she is doing. She still faces opposition to the changes. SHE IS IN THE TRENCHES fighting for the children of Pleven and she needs the prayers of Christians to lift her up as she continues the fight. Even if you can not provide a monetary donation toward all the projects happening at Pleven, you can pray for the director, for the children and for all the good things that are in the works to come to fruition so that the CHILDREN of Pleven reap the benefits of all that is being done.

As a final recap, the current needs through the PMF are:

1.) The remainder of the funds for the vehicle: $1,133
2.) The dining room renovation: $1,800
3.) Adaptive high chairs for the dining room: $1,200
4.) Physical therapy equipment: $5,200

As quickly as these financial needs are met, we will begin working with Dr. Georgieva on her “dream” list!

~Shelley Bedford


“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

“…our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.”

“For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever, Amen.



Bonus Post Script–

Susanna:  Shelley, as I prepare to re-post your Pleven update, I am anticipating a question I know I will receive, and I’d like to have an answer ready. If there is still over $20K in the PMF, why can’t these other expenses you listed be drawn from that existing fund?

Shelley:  We have discussed that at length. It actually CAN be used, since all of these things are related to meeting the medical needs of the children. However, our fear was that people would get mad if we used that money for something other than paying hospital/actual medical expenses, since that was how we said we would use it when we asked for those initial donations. We’ve tried very hard to maintain the integrity of the PMF with accountability, so we didn’t want to spend money that was donated for hospital care to go for something else.

You have no idea how much we agonized about that.  It would have been SO easy to just spend the money in the account for everything that the orphanage needs. But, that wasn’t what it was donated for…and I am PRAYING that people will give for all of these projects too.

Susanna:  I hope people are impressed with HOW FAR their money will go! What was the original total given to the PMF?

Shelley:   $36,580 was the initial deposit into the fund. $16K has gone a LONG way!!! I told Toni that here in the US, one hospitalization for one child that included X-rays, tests and a surgery would go over that amount in a DAY!



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43 Responses to “To God be the glory: Pleven update”

  1. Vertical Mom says:

    Thank you for sharing that last part.  During your entire post, I kept thinking, “She is making some enemies with all of these changes!”  Satan does not want her to succeed in helping the children!  We need to pray God’s indestructible wall of protection about the Director.

  2. Becky K. says:

    Happy Dance!!!!!  Praise the Lord for His goodness!

  3. Carol says:

    Tears of joy here too.

  4. sabrina says:

    Tears of joy. What an amazing update. Our family is so happy to know that there are real changes being made in the daily lives of the precious children living in the Pleven orphanage.

  5. jenni says:

    so happy, especially for #8. praying for Dr. Georgieva to be steadfast and strong in the path God has laid before her.

  6. Genna says:

    so we see how God is continuing to honor Verity’s life…sort of like the book, ‘If you give a mouse a cookie!…..who could ever have imagined how her precious life could end up affecting the lives of so so many…all we have to do is be obedient to what we are called to do….He does the rest…how cool is that?

  7. Praise the Lord!!!  This was *such* a blessing to read.  But as someone else has said, the enemy is NOT happy so we MUST *pray*.

  8. debbie says:

    Thank you for sharing!  Completely amazing the mountains being moved for these children! 

  9. Helen says:

    Wonderful to hear this amazing story of progress and light being brought in by Dr Georgieva and team. (Peace and understanding to those who were hurt and displaced.) Thank God that these children now have a real chance for some quality of life. Well done to everyone. 

  10. gail says:

    Have you ever arranged mission/work teams to go over and help in tanglible ways? Is this something that might be possible? I have only recently been reading your blog and I am so happy with this report!

  11. Aunt Carol says:

    That is wonderful news!  Praise the Lord!

  12. What wonderful news!  Praise the Lord!!!  :D

  13. Marie Reid says:

    Wow,wow wow can’t believe it, cried all the way through reading this report, worked as volunteer with these amazing kids and am so grateful and humbled that this is now finally happening wow

  14. Susanna says:

    Gail, you have asked a good question. Until very recently, this isn’t something that would have been possible for several complicated reasons, but it looks like it could be in the future. We can certainly be praying that an avenue like this would open up!

  15. Courtney says:

    I am so happy to read this.  I, too am praying for mission opportunities to open up. 

  16. Jill says:

    This is absolutely amazing news! I am so happy to hear that positive changes are being made!  My 5 year and I pray every single night for the kids at Pleven- we will continue to pray for continued progress!!!

  17. Warriorbride says:

    The Blessing of Verity, INDEED!!! Just look at all that has come about because of her precious little life!!! To God be the glory! Yes!!!!! 

  18. Bri says:

    I totally agree, Warriorbride!!! Praise the Lord for the way he has worked through one small, smiling “morsel” girly! Praising the Lord through whom all blessings flow for this great news!!!

  19. It makes the Pleven my boys came from seem like a bad dream, from long ago.

    Love to see how far the money goes!! Can’t wait to ask our boy’s medical Drs to donate! They are so interested in helping! 

  20. Gigi says:

    HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!!!!   This woman is an angel!!!!   Such a great thing to hear!!  Thank you Susanna for all you do!!   Katie was a beautiful instrument in God’s plan for this woman and this orphanage.  Can’t wait to hear more!

  21. Jaclyn says:

    Thank you for sharing this amazing update. I love that changes are being made!!!! 

  22. Elaine says:

    I have chills.  Praise be to God!

  23. Cinderellamommy says:

    SuchSuch wonderful news!!! Will be praying for a hedge of protection around the children and director. Thank you so much for sharing!

  24. Corrie says:

    Thanking Jesus with teary eyes! what huge changes. We will continue to pray!

  25. Rita from Spain says:

    You made my day with this post. Thank you.,…

  26. debbie fitts (momys) says:

    Wonderful good news!!  Praise Him!

  27. Lisa says:

    Amazing!  I am off to donate right this minute.  I am thrilled that these babes will finally have the opportunity to eat sitting up, do physio and get healthy.   Yeah!

  28. JessicaD says:

    There are no words for the JOY this brings!! Those lovely babies are going to end up having THE BEST faciity… Taj Mahal of Bulgaria! 

    I wonder if Dr G realizes she could have a lifetime job in store – going from one to the next and helping… :) 

  29. Susanna says:

    JessicaD, what a lovely thought! I may just mention that idea to her, uh, if I ever get to go back to her country, uh, which is in Eastern Europe…


  30. Susan says:

    What absolutely splendid news! Thank you so much for sharing. Our prayers are being answered, most abundantly, with all these blessings. Dr. Georgieva clearly is a caring, perceptive, and imaginative person – bless her for all she is doing!

  31. Kay B says:

    This is such fantastic news, thank you for sharing the update.  I will continue to make donations to Pleven and pray for the director.  I, too, am crying tears of joy for the  amazing way God is moving in Pleven and in the hearts of all the donors. 

  32. Saylor says:

    Thank you for including the part requesting for us to pray. My oldest daughter has some severe health problems and I am currently unable to work because of them. I would love to contribute financially, but right now that is just not possible. I was feeling like, what can I do??? Thanks for letting me know that since all I can contribute right now are my prayers, they have value to you. I will keep them coming :)

  33. Christine says:

    Susanna, how are you guys dealing with the storm?? I’ve been thinking about your family and hope everything is alright.


  34. Susan says:

    Since my return from Pleven, all I can say is this…the director needs prayer, lots of prayer. She has a big job ahead of her. May God bless her every move towards helping all the children. Please pray.

  35. Amanda R says:

    Susanna, thank you (and Shelley) for such an incredible detailed and positive update. PRAISE GOD for the many changes!  I’ve already sent a Thank You Note to Dr. Georgieva, but is it ok to send her another one just to keep the encoraging going?  Also, the doctor at Tokuda Hospital who has been so helpful and instruamental in getting these children the care they so desperately need, is it possible to wrie them a Thank You Notel as well?

  36. Kristina says:

    WOW!  Can you post the address again where we can send notes to encourage the director?  You have convinced me that I need to do this!

  37. Ginger says:

    Thanks for the updates! I just donated (hopefully to the right place). I clicked on the PMF link and donated via paypal at the Eli Project site (wrote Pleven Medical Fund in the special note section).  The paypal receipt says its for Ukraine MInistries of Oklahoma.  I hope this was the correct way to donate, but didn’t see anyother donate button for that.
    Thanks for keeping us informed about all the amazing changes. 

  38. Susanna says:

    Ginger, it was exactly right. THANK YOU!!!!

  39. Sally Shaw says:

    Prayers are being answered – thank you Lord and thank all of you who are praying for these children.  Thanks for Dr G – she is a good person and will need all the support she can get – she will face much opposition and negativitiy following years of corruption, negligence and abuse and will need to stay strong.  There will be many who will want her to fail. Thank you all for your intervention and positive actions which are making a real difference to these children.  I have been to Pleven as a volunteer several times and know how terrible and cruel this system is.  I have felt  despair and inadequate and unable to do anything but bring a little short term comfort to these children, BUT they have been in my prayers daily, and when I see the amazing pictures of those little ones who I know and have seen in Pleven and who now belong to loving, caring families, I know that prayers are being answered.  You are bringing hope to lives that had none and I thank you with all my heart for that.  Keep plucking them out of there, one by one, and give them a future, a life, love. God Bless You.

  40. Susanna says:

    Sally, you have made my tears flow freely, because you have been there, and seen, and because of this, your words carry profound weight. Thank you so much for writing and for your love and faithful prayers for the children. Thank you.

  41. Valerie says:

    Thanks be to God!!  Susanna, thank you for sharing this miracle for us.  We couldn’t have seen this w/out you!

  42. vicki says:

    This is so wonderful!  The link to PMF is no longer working, does the fund still exist?

  43. Susanna says:

    Hi Vicki, thanks for asking! Shelley Bedford spent last week in Pleven, and we’re planning to talk by phone sometime this week. I hope to ask her that question along with many others! Bless you for wanting to help!

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