Tim Chambers, the Englishman who Changed the Fate of a Bulgarian Village
16 years ago, the village of Brashten in the Dospat region, with nearly a thousand inhabitants, was like all the others in the Rhodope Mountains, with a record number of unemployed, after the small workshops were closed down after the rise of democracy. The price at which tobacco is purchased - the main occupation of the people there, is becoming cheaper and cheaper. Day after day, locals begin to cross the border to Greece - some legally, some not - to work and rescue their families from poverty.
The village is gloomy, unsightly. There is perspective for those living in it.
It is currently the richest in the Chech region (southwest parts of the Rhodopes), consisting of about 60 Bulgarian and Greek villages.
On Saturday, some of the inhabitants of Brashten saw for the first time the Englishman who changed the fate of many of them, but also of the settlement as a whole. Few are the families that do not have a member working for him. The people hired by him this summer are 350 people from the village.
The Englishman Tim Chambers came to the wedding that his high-ranking official in the "Oakden Farm" of the Dospat village of Shukri Cholakov organized for his daughter. He is 52 years old and owns a raspberry, blackberry and rheum farm near Maidstone, Southeastern England.
A small gesture had made a great impression on everyone.
It was raining, before the bride's house as her family expected the groom to come with his family with traditional music playing to take her out. An elderly grandmother, with a humped back over the years, went to see the wedding guests. There was rain, and she stood leaning against the fence. Seeing it, the foreigner went with an open umbrella and stood next to her. He kept her out of the rain for a long time until the doors of the car opened for him to go to the restaurant's party.
In the restaurant, or more precisely in the canteen of the boarding school in Dospat, he was excited to see nearly 800 people sharing the joy of connecting two lives into one.
Tim danced with all the Bulgarian people while learning the steps. Every glance directed at him during the dance he welcomed warmly and with a smile.
"It was my pleasure. Wedding here is a very social moment and you can see that the whole village, all people gather together. In England, there is more family tradition, where only the family gathers and celebrates. We generally sit and eat, then dance. And here you eat, dance, then eat again and dance again. English weddings are more organized. Everything that's happening here is very casual, "Chambers said after the celebration. He owns a farm in England with 1,200 workers. Of these, over 1000 are Bulgarians. Of the Bulgarians about 350 are from Brashten. The rest are from Romania.
Asked how he would describe at home the Bulgarian wedding, he replied: "It is like a community gathering, as a fair, as a holiday for all. You do not have to be invited - just go. "
He says he danced very badly on the dance. "From the side it looks like something very simple, very slow, but when you dance it turned out very complicated," he laughs.
For him the wedding was time to relax - a break. He knew more people than when he was at home. He has seen many familiar faces during the wedding, some of them working for him, though he does not know all of them by name.
Despite all that he owns, though so many people work for him, Tim Chambers does not considered himself important, or someone who is more significant than the others. "That's because I see myself as everyone else. I work, I have a family and am like everyone else, "adds the businessman.
His chief manager, Salih Hodzhov, from Brashten, says this is his personal feature: "His family is very well educated, working hard and behaving humbly."
For the first time the entrepreneur came to the village of Dospat 11 years ago. Now he sees the change as follows: "The roads are much better. Buildings look very well maintained, as if they have become much more colorful and nicer than the previous ones. "
He says that local people are very honest, very hardworking and very loyal, and that they are loyal to each other: "Their mentality is such that both at the wedding and in England they want to be together, to share and to care for each other ".
I explain to him that people from the Rhodopes are very hospitable, kind and hearty. However, in the Chech area, to which the village of Brashten is part of, the hard life has made them quite harsh. And if his workers were residents of Trigrad, for example, or Smilyan, they and their relatives would embrace him in the street. However, in Brashten, such a thing can not be expected because they are more reserved. And his comment was: "But the eyes are friendly, kind, I feel their respect".
I asked him what kind of people are his employees from Brashten, and he said, "They know how to work. They understand that the job is not only in the first 10 minutes, and for the rest of the time to think about the weekend. This is the problem with people in England that when they work, they are not concentrated, but they think what they will do after they finish the job. And the people of Brashten are very ethical. "
He does not think he has contributed that much to the positive change in the village. "I think the change would have happened with me or without me. If they did not work for our company, they would have gone to companies somewhere else - in Austria, Germany or anywhere. And the changes would have happened. They all have telephones, internet, television - and that provides for their ability to see what are the possibilities ahead of them, "said Tim Chambers.
He says he is very happy when people leave the farm and go to work in a nicer place. "I know there's a lot of hard work in the farm. But if they want more in life, let them go to achieve their dreams. I want them to work for me, but if they find something better, let them develop, "he says.
And how did it all begin !?
In 2001, Salih Hodjov, who is his chief manager, goes to a student brigade in England. On his visa for 6 months it was written "Belfs Farm" - that's what the name of Chamber's farm back then.
This was his first job and his first trip abroad. "Tim was like any of us - picking raspberries, cutting raspberries, working with all of us," Salih recalls.
The farm was then 35 people cultivating 250 acres of land.
"35 people - that was all the staff. But when the business grows bigger, you start looking for people who can take responsibility. Salih took responsibility without stress. Every year the farm grew bigger, "says Tim Chambers.
"I had to trust someone. And why exactly him!? 15 years ago, when Salih began to take on more responsibilities, I saw that he was strong and straightforward. For him it is "black" or "white", there is no "gray". This is perfect! If you have to manage a lot of people, you have to be very accurate in what you say to them, be very honest. Not everyone can do it, believe me! "Says the owner of the farm.
"I was among the few people who stayed there that winter. Sometimes it's lucky to be in the right place and meet the right people. I'll tell you the story. I am a believing man. And when I went to Maidstone, we went with a friend of mine to look for a mosque. We went to a Turkish kebab, I asked there. But the man replied: "What mosque are you looking for here? You are in England, you do not need a mosque!" I came back and met Tim's father. I told him where we went and what happened. The next day he took us with his car. We found the mosque, which was like a house, and brought us back. Then I said, "If these people respect me, they are very tolerant, so they want to work with me." I understand that the whole family is very fair, very honest, human. For me, it's really destiny - to find the right people at the right place at the right time. It's lucky. I learn languages very quickly. And this is also a part of my luck because I started to communicate with them very quickly and to take on more responsibilities, "said the Chief Executive Officer.
There is the reason that there are so many workers from Branshten on the English farm - because he knows his villagers are hardworking, honest and respectable.
They both agree that there are a lot of people on the farm who are smarter and better than anyone else, but when they can not communicate, they can not understand what capacity they have: "We are constantly looking for them, but we find it hard to find them because they can not show their abilities in full. "
When asked how his business grew up over the years, Tim replied: "It's like a house. We started building the basement first. I spent 25 years building the foundations of the house. When the foundations are very good, we are beginning to become very tall. Two things are important. The first is that the products we produce have quality and people want to buy them. The second is - the people who work for us grow together with us. They have not come from outside. These are our people. "
And he adds that only 5 to 6 people have come prepared from the management team, all others have started as regular workers and have proven over time to take up positions.
He is categorical that challenges will always be there.
"We are bigger now, but I have the same concerns as when we were young. You can never rest. One or two days of rest and then again you have to be in great shape for work. If we made mistakes when we were small, we could have survived, we'd fix things. But in the wrong decision, when we're big, maybe we will not survive. It is now harder and there is a greater responsibility for the decisions made, " Tim Chambers is convinced, the man who changed the life of a whole Bulgarian village.
Article from Actualno.com
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