The Story of Mongol Rally 2014 and “Ambulanti: from Italy to Mongolia through Bulgaria – COME ALONG!”

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By Maya Boneva, Senior Volunteer

Maybe it is too trivial to say that nice things start after a joke. But this time it was really the case.  And most seriously we made a joke on the phone and became a creative trio. My daughter Boyka, a girl that she has just met – Yana and me, Maya  right on the doorstep of my retirement, started an intense written communication, daily and sometimes even more often. This is in fact, my secret wish, and was my small victory. Then I shouted “Long live internet, long live enthusiasm!”

There were days when I felt like a huge stork mother around her young and perky baby storks. Called more than fifty youngsters, introduced myself to them, arranged our meetings and felt true happiness when I could realize how many people deal with civic activities and charity. The truth is that not everything went smoothly and got fixed from the first time, but every time I went home hopeful and thankful. None of the refusals was annoying, because they were sincere and reasonable. This is not a response of my generation – sly, detached and cowardly. These are new relations: you can do something – then you say a clear ‘yes’; when for a reason you can’t take part – you simply say that you won’t participate. Again, there were times when I would know the reason, but I was not annoyed if I wouldn’t. This is something I consider important. This new generation shares a different set of values, the freedom to choose between yes and no, the will to do more or less, as much as they can. I liked the impression that this generation is not petty-minded, neither covetous, but generous and noble. They can take the responsibility and hold it. And I was given the opportunity to be happy, to enjoy and to be diligent.

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This is how the day was defined – the last day of July, the place – Betahaus, a meeting point of, one can say, young, democratic and uncorrupted people. During our short programme I ‘imposed’ content for everybody – adults, young, and younger participants. In other words, a bold eclectic aim – to attract but not mislead ages from 5 to 85. It was nice, a blitz briefing on who is who, like Inter Alia and Ambulanti. The truth is that I was kind of worried: how could one hold a fund-raising for a remote and unpopular country like Mongolia, after our own country moans under the burden of natural disasters and greedy politicians? But it is good to know that we can, we can do that and more, when there is solidarity, in the spirit of the new generation.

Like this, after a really active exchange of e-mails the summer came and along with it came the week of international meetings. Those who arrived first were my children – Boyka, Stoyan and Nikos. We, with their father still haven’t gotten enough of them when the Italians came to share our house, loudly and full of temperament. It has been long time since the table in our small house gathered so many smiling and particular people. In a different situation and arrangement I would probably be upset, but unexpectedly I felt close to Walter, Alex and Alberto, because they predisposed us to being friends and groupies. Here I need to say that they are also responsible people. They were prepared to share the stuff collected in Italy, thanks to the fire kept by Yana. It was not necessary to persuade each other – we implemented the programme as planned, the participants liked the visitors, the visitors liked Boyka, Nikos, Walter, Chari, the Free Runners – Misho and friends.

They also liked prof. Alexander Fedotov, Ema with her talented children and aesthetic year exhibition, they liked the Gajda players Kotseto and Georgi, who right after the show started to an international competition in Gela. And Kotseto won the first prize there, we are proud with him. Everybody will remember Gergina Toncheva in a classic turquoise dress to the ground, who with no microphone and with no quiver read all by heart the Cavafis’ Ithaka. Here is the moment to mention the priceless help of Stoyan Junior. Full of respect and patience, he took care of our antique. I trust that at least three people – our Italians, listened goose fleshed and followed the thoughts of the poem, distributed to them in translation by Boyka. So, Gergina was inspiring with the philosophy of the road and knowledge. No doubt, this evening will be remembered by the Ambassador of Mongolia in Bulgaria too, as more than 100 people have come to fill in the hall.

Probably I have omitted somebody – maybe Nikoleta from Betahaus, who never left the hall, taking care of all the guests. This is the way to bear responsibility, however, we were also easy and didn’t allow for troubles. Mostly we gave reasons for joy, while guests were expressing their thankfulness. These were compliments!

Then, I realized, although not fast enough that my job was done and the time to take for home has come. I left full of emotions and with just one thought: to be alone and to thank silently for this beautiful evening.

As required by an international event of this size, there was media coverage too. Thanks to the social media, done by Boyka and Yana, and the classic journalists Katya Doncheva, Tanya Velichkova, Nevena Pramatarova, Merim Tenev and Gabriela Gavrilova that went smoothly too.

And, as every creative thing, the meeting “Ambulanti: from Italy to Mongolia through Bulgaria – COME ALONG!” flew in a while. Everything was collected and cleaned, while the donations were listed and given further. We are proud now, not ashamed that we could do something but we didn’t. Of course, there’s always room for more, deeper, better selected, but this is the way to discover new challenges. And on this day, we realized that we can handle them. For the next morning were left only kisses goodbye and wishes for a safe trip, and for new acquaintances.

This is how an exciting meeting of several generations came to an end, started as a joke, but left a serious memory in me.