The village of Pokrovan – real stories about life after turning 65 years

Pokrovan is a village in the Eastern Rhodopes, municipality of Ivaylovgrad. Despite the proximity of the city, time is not the time we are used to in our everyday life. As if the civilization has surrounded this picturesque place and left the locals aside of its comforts – there is no internet, there is hardly any penetration of mobile phones.

The village of Pokrovan has a population of about seventy to ninety people, mainly women and men over the age of 65 years. Over the years, these people have earned their living on agriculture (mainly tobacco) and livestock, but illnesses and loneliness come in with advancing age, the locals are almost impossible to take care of themselves. Their children and relatives have long left the village and seem unlikely to return ever. But while we, at Caritas, walk down the quiet streets, we find the traces of a different, more real civilization that knows no falsity and vanity. There, amid the mist and drops of rain.

Apart from the services in the Catholic Church “Assumption of God”, there is almost no public life in Pokrovan. That’s why for thirteen years, the Day Care Center for Senior Citizens “St. Vasiliy” has been operating with the support of Caritas Sofia. Recently it had an overhaul and refurbishment. The Center employs a cook and two assistants who prepare food for the elderly every day and deliver food for the hard-to-reach elderly people directly to their homes. The center offers special activities to local villagers – watching TV, games and various activities, a bathroom and a cozy fireplace. It turns out that it is one of the few joys in the life of people residing there.

Here’s the story of Yana, 82-years old lady from the village of Pokrovan, who visits the Center: “There is food, it is good. Now, after the repairs, it is very nice. How do we live? So-so. We live. We are now very old. My son has thrombophlebitis, he’s not working. He does not leave home at all, does not go to work and is on disability pension. I am on a pension as well – BGN 170-180. Somehow it’s enough to live. I have no other relatives, they are either very far away, or everyone stays at home … I’m doing myself, who could help me? Caritas help me, they cook. I wish life and health to everyone!”

With smiles we send our grandmother Yana to continue our walk. Together with one of the Day Care Center employees, we go to feed an elderly family – Grandma Ivanka and Grandpa Angel. We find them excited while talking on the phone with their daughter. Grandma Ivanka can hardly hide away her tears.

“My greatest joy is my daughter and grandchildren. She and my brother-in-law are military. Far from us, they have long lived in the big city. Last year the grandfather got a stroke and had very difficult time. He dropped on the yard and struck his legs. He was bed-stricken for two weeks at the hospital in Svilengrad, but there he was treated for stroke. Eventually he had to cut his legs in Plovdiv. My daughter said that unless they cut his leg, he would die. After all, we listened to the doctor. He got back without one foot.”

“Otherwise, we are good at everyday life,” says Ivanka. “My husband is called Angel and is 78 years old, I am 77. We have a wonderful yard, he just wants to sow. Angel spent a lifetime working with great desire – on the yard, on the field, taking care of the pig. He helped the Eucharist sisters, all the houses and gardens, without complaining. Just give him a job! But now he is not able to.”

On the occasion of the forthcoming liturgy, the elderly woman, who is moving hard, says: “I attended the church regularly. I was singing a second voice, I loved it! It is my desire to sing a second voice.” But soon after, she is saddened again. “I have been an orphan for 48 years. I had a sister but she died and I was left alone. It is difficult.”

Villagers tell about her that they have never heard a word spoken by someone. Her daughter is good, but she lives in Plovdiv and has no chance to visit her often.

“I will come, Grandma, I will come! ” most often promises Grandma Ivanka to her granddaughter, but fails to meet her promise. “I want to be alive to see her ending up with medicine. I want to cry.”

Caritas will continue to support elderly people – a vulnerable group of people living in isolation and poverty, despite the long years of work in their lives.