Never Give Up!

She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.

~ Elizabeth Edwards

Nadezhda Vulova Nuza is an Accountant Administration Clerk at Gibraltar Garrison Library, and she speaks English, Spanish, Bulgarian and Russian – Growing up in Bulgaria was very hard. We didn’t have the commodities enjoyed in other countries of the world. We lived in Eastern Europe, in a country that had just come out from a communist stronghold, and life was extremely difficult, restricted and overwhelmingly hard. To give you an example, we were only allowed to have a popular American soft drink or fresh fruits like oranges and bananas once a year for Christmas, and to get them we had to wait in line for hours. The rest of the year these were not available, as with many other products, which we all take for granted every day in other countries.

Also, even if you had money, you couldn’t travel to visit other countries. The political curtain, which almost all our people were under, created an information blackout for world news and events – we were only told what they wanted us to know. Only a select few with Communism connections had this luxury. The rest of us, like my family and me, had to endure the hardship.

When my sister was born, I was almost 11 years old. In order to maintain our family, my father tried very hard to start a new job as a long-distance driver in one of Bulgarian’s transportation companies, which was located in my hometown. This company had contracts to work in Europe, Asia and other non-European countries. My father took this job, as it was the only way he could financially support our family. It was an extremely hard move for him and for the whole family, as my mother would be left alone to raise my sister and me, while my father worked abroad. He worked for many years and thanks to his savings which he regularly sent us, we were able to survive.

In 1989, 11 years later, Democracy came, and a lot of Bulgarian people were very happy, with high expectations for a spectacular change in everyone’s life. In the same year, I gave birth to my eldest daughter, and in my memories, I still remember how my mother waited in line every day with coupons to acquire milk for my daughter. After about a year, the situation changed slowly for the better but not for long. People could freely choose the names of their children, attend church freely, start private companies, and have their own businesses.

My father and I founded a private transport company which we managed for about 12 years, then something in the economic plan went down and we were forced to terminate the business. Unfortunately, he had to leave again to find work in Spain, where he was a long-distance truck driver traveling all over Europe in a tough industry, just so he could send us some money to help us pull through.

Times went from bad to worse, the cost of living was starting to go up, but the wages were still very low. As an example, an average monthly salary was $350.00 USD. From that you paid taxes, and the rest you had to ration so it could stretch until the end of the month.

I gave birth to my second daughter. Then I had to pay for my children’s schooling, which was not cheap either. It was every day an uphill struggle to make ends meet, so we could all have food on our table and clothes on our backs.

When my daughters reached their teenage years, I made the difficult decision to leave my home and find a better life. First, I went to the UK for about a year of hard work, but then I had to go back home to support my older daughter in her candidate university year as the situation had reached a boiling point. Soon my daughter wanted to go to University in Bulgaria and the younger one to the University in the Netherlands, which was a very expensive annual fee and impossible to reach under my current situation. I wanted to give them both their dreams of going to university so they could have a better life. A sacrifice many mothers know all too well.

So, I left my daughters with my sister and mother, and with one suitcase I went to Alicante, without knowing where I was going or even understanding their language. Soon, I started working gathering oranges when the season came. It was a hard life, as my back suffered immensely picking up oranges in the harsh working conditions at the plantations under the intense Spanish sun, from 7am until 8pm, just to earn a little more than I would have, if I had stayed in my country.

For several years, I did this until my father arranged for me to look after an elderly person as a nurse. Here that family took me in, and my life started to seem brighter for a change. As the years continued to pass, I learned the Spanish language and lived as comfortable as I could, but I always missed my family, especially my daughters. This was a constant pain. Sometimes my father would be in the village where I was working and I met up with him until he had to leave again to drive far away, so I didn’t see him as much as I had wanted to.

Every night, the reality of my life hit me, and I would cry myself to sleep. I was all alone and one day I dreamed, like we all do I guess, that my life would change around for the better. My daughters were now reaching the age for university. I had saved up some money, but it wasn’t enough.

And then one day, I met the man who would become my husband. He was on holiday in my village, and we bumped into each other and started talking. He wasn’t from around the area, in fact he was from a country far away. After his holiday ended, we stayed in contact over the next few months. He then invited me to spend a holiday with him and his family, so I decided I would go. Over the next year I went to see him, and he came to see me. He understood my predicament and felt sorry for the pain I had endured in my life over the years. He also wanted to help me, and put my daughters through university – he wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, thanks to his support, my daughters received their education, one in Holland and the other in Bulgaria.

We visited my country where he met my family and we have been visiting them every year since. He asked me to move to his country to settle there, which I did, and we married soon after. We have been married now over ten years and he has been a constant rock for me and my family in rough times.

The moral of this story is, no matter how much sorrow you may be in, your life will change for the better if you allow time to work its magic so all the pieces can fit. Never lose sight of your dreams.

I thank God, myself, my wonderful family and husband, and the consistency and persistence of my daughters. I always told them the words: “I CAN NOT,” “I SURRENDER,” or “I GIVE UP” simply DO NOT EXIST.

Now I am a proud mother of two women who have chosen their path and professional careers, presenting themselves very successfully in life. One is a lawyer with a PHD, and the other an IT Marketing Consultant.

Life is about believing, adjusting and never giving up,

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