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Baku or Bust!

After months of planning, Gl, the official Welsh Football Supporters Charity, set off on Friday 22nd May from Cardiff on an ambitious charity project named 'BakuorBust' to take aid and relief to over 20 orphanages and good causes on the route to Baku in Azerbaijan, where Wales will play in a World Cup Qualifier on 6th June. Twenty Five Wales Football fans will take part in the project, driving in a total of nine vehicles. Over 10,000 has been raised to date, some of which will help the places visited, the rest will help good causes where Wales will play in the future.

The fans will travel through France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia before reaching their final desitination Azerbaijan. Neil Dymock, Gl Trustee and 'BakuorBust' Project Manager said "We have had so much support from people in Wales it's been incredible. It will be great to see underpriveldged children across Europe in their new Wales kits and playing a game of football. Gl is helping to improve the image of travelling football supporters and the 25 Wales fans taking part have given a huge comittment both in terms of time and fundraising."

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First stop on Monday 25th May will be the Rainman Centre in Vienna, where Gl visited in 2005. The day-centre cares and provides therapy for 25 autistic young people living there. Most are under 20 however the "mental age" is a lot younger. Gl will be viewing how the grant of 1500 they donated towards the cost of building an activity and relaxation room at the center has helped the centre. The room now has facilities which enable the young people to increase their physical awareness, improve their optic and tactile perception skills as well as providing a relaxing atmosphere.

Later that day Gl will re-visit the Podunajske Biskupice Orphanage they visited in September 2007 in Bratislava, after crossing the border into Slovakia. There they will see how the Gl grant of 750 was used to build a football pitch in the grounds. 40 children live at the home, including handicapped children in 5 units and Gl will donate a Welsh Football kit to the orphanage team.

On Tuesday 26th May, Budapest in Hungary will be the next stop, with Gl visiting the Gyermekotthon Orphanage, previously visited in March 2004. The orphanage houses 126 children and Gl will be shown photos of how the children enjoyed summer camp that year, made possible for some of the children at the home by a Gl grant of 500.

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After crossing into Romania later that morning, the first stop will be the Casa Josef Orphanage in Beius. Here 37 children live in complete care and would otherwise remain in the state institution system. Even though Casa Josef is a beautiful facility with modern amenities that offers much to the children, they recognise that it still is not a permanent family environment, which every child deserves.

Onto Bucharest and the Pinocchio Orphanage on Wednesday 27th May. Christian Cournede and Cristina Stefanut work on the Noi Orizonturi-Familia Project for the Family Care Foundation charity and will be showing Gl the problems facing abandoned children in Romania.

Crossing into Bulgaria on Thursday 28th May, the Al. G. Kodzhakafaliyata orphanage in Bourgas will be the next stop, the second largest orphanage in Bulgaria, visited by Gl in 2007. Gl will see photos of how some of the 100 children living at the home were able to go to summer camp that year as a result of the Gl grant of 750.

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On Friday 29th May, the group will be in Turkey and at the Nesin Vakfi Orpahange in Catalca, one hour from Istanbul. Nesin Vakfi was founded in the early 80's by Aziz Nesin a famous Turkish author, his son now continues his work after he sadly died in 1995. The 43 children that live at the home come from provinces all over Turkey.

Saturday 30th May and Gl will be visiting Ankara for the next visit on the pilgrimage to Baku. Ataturk Cocuk Yuvasi Orpahange is one of the most famous of all orphanages in Turkey translated as 'The Children Heim of Ataturk'. It was founded by Great Ataturk to protect the war orphans in 1922. In 1925 the orphanage settled in its todays building.

Sunday 31st May will see Gl entering Georgia and they have teamed up with the Kutaisi Newport Twinning Association to help a number of causes in Kutaisi, Newport's twin city of twenty years. Two days will be spent in Kutaisi. Football Accessories will be donated to the Football Sport School Martve 91, while a number of Newport County replica shirts will also be donated. A number of books will be donated at children's home No 44, along with other gifts.

On the evening of Tuesday 2nd June, the Wales fans will play a team of Georgian fans in Kutaisi at the 20,000 capacity Givi Kiladze Stadium.

After saying goodbye to Kutaisi, its onto Gori on Wednesday 3rd June, where another two children's homes will be visited for 48 and 66 children respecively, as a result of the conflicts of last summer.

Thursday 4th June will see the fans finally reach Azerbaijan, the final destination and another eight orphanages will be helped in Qazax, Agstafa, two orphanges in Ganja, Ucar, Kurdamir, Saray, Gizildash. Also a refugee Centre just outside Baku will be provided with training gear by Gl and JJB Sports.

The orphanages from Qazax to Kurdamir, will be visited on the 4th and 5th June in partnership with the Azerbaijan Volunteers Union, which Gl have been working with since 2002. The aim of creating the AVU is to develop the volunteers` work in Azerbaijan, to promote solution of society`s problems and to improve the well-being of vulnerable population. This will help strengthen the process of Azerbaijans integration into the World, the broad exchange of experience promotes the development of volunteers` work as well.

Friday 5th June, will see the 25 Wales Supporters finally reach Baku. A football game will then take place between the Wales fans and a team of Oil and Construction workers that evening.

On the day of the Azerbaijan v Wales game, Gl will visit two orphanages outside Baku. The Saray Orphanage, near Sumqayit have benefited by a 1000$ Gl grant to help fund a project at the home.The project will entail creating a kitchen where the mentally and physically challenged orphans will learn how to help themselves and help others in the institution of the orphanage Saray, which houses approximately 200 such youth and children of both genders. Gl will be shown how work is progressing on the project.

Meanwhile some Welsh fans will also be representing Gl at the Gizildash orphanage, south-west of Baku in conjunction with Community Shield Baku. There are over 50 children at this orphanage along with refugee families from the Armenian War. Next to the orphanage is a college which aims to provide vocational training to the orphans. The vocational skills the college offers are depicted on a billboard in the college grounds, showing people engaged as woodworkers, hairdressers, and in a variety of other occupations.

The afternoon will see the Wales fans play a team of Azerbaijan fans in Baku in a friendly football game.

Sunday 7th June, will see Gl visit a refugee centre outside Baku, where a football game will take place between the fans and the refugees.

There will be a daily blog on the journey at: www.conwytobaku.co.uk.

To make a donation please donate online at: www.justgiving.com/bakuorbust.

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