When the system is not working…

At first, when I saw this image yesterday, I didn’t understand what these “Suspended” receipts mean. And I’m sure you won’t either.

So let me explain to you…

Imagine you have a grocery shop in a small neighborhood. In a country called Bulgaria, where the economy is currently suffering a serious recession. You’re trying to sell organic healthy and good products, despite the bigger supermarket chains which sell big amount of low-quality products.

You know your customers, they are your new friends – you see them every day and chat about different things, about live, TV shows, the weather. You try to pack a smile in the groceries back before you give it to them.

But… there is something that is just not right. You see this old lady coming in your shop every other day, counting the coins in her hand and asking for half a bread and a yogurt. You always give it to her for less than the actual price, but something deep inside just hurts. You know that a yogurt with a bread is all she will eat until the next time she comes and buys the same. And you know she’s not the only one.

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She could be any old lady in the block. Actually, she reminds you of your own grandma. And it hurts…! You know that she will never go on the street and beg for money. She lived her whole live with dignity and pride, worked hard every single day in those 45 years of her career. She paid all her taxes to her country. Her live during the communism wasn’t easy, but she brought up her children and grandchildren well – they all live somewhere far, went to work in any different corners of the world and she’s on her own now. Relying on her pension.

The most retired people in Bulgaria receive just a bit above the minimum pension of £65 (150 BGN). When the electricity bills, taxes and fees are paid, the medicines for blood pressure, heart and old bones are bought, whatever is left from the pension is not enough to buy food. Everyone knows it, but most people prefer to not think of it. The system is not working, the government doesn’t care – it seems impossible to do anything to help.

You just want to help her. And a few other old people in the block. What can you do though?! You can’t give them all food for free. First, they won’t accept it; secondly, you will soon have to close down.

Until one day you’ve just had a chat with one of your customers and both shared the same sad feelings about that lady. And you both came up with this idea – anyone who comes to your shop and wants to help, can buy an extra bread, or yogurt, or maybe cheese… just the essentials, and not take them. The products will be paid for, but will stay in the shop. To be accurate in front of the Accountancy Agency, you will issue a receipt for selling them, but you will put this receipt on the window and when the old lady comes you will tell her that someone paid for a whole bread and didn’t take it, so she can have it.

A few days later, it happens…!

A month later – the good people from the block found out and started buying an extra bread or piece of cheese once weekly. Instead of a pack of cigarettes. You put those receipts on the window, so the old pensioners can see them and pick a piece of hope. Hope that there will be Tomorrow.

They told each other. Every time some of them comes and the also ask you with a bit of shame, if they can come back. They hope and are so happy for such a small joy – a piece of bread with yogurt on the table.

The good news spread quickly and more people joined, from different blocks, different towns. I hope it will spread through the whole country! Any even further! This is why Facebook is good – people share.

When the system doesn’t work, we still can make a difference. We can help each other and those that need us now. Small acts, but where are needed most!

You can check on the Facebook page of the Organic Shop and translate with Google – the shop that made this happen. I made up the story with the old lady, just to make you imagine. I’m pretty sure it happened in a similar way when it started. Because it’s real. Unfortunately.