Support for the Families is Support for the Children
“St. Andrew” Social Association and „Sauchastie” („Co-Participation”) Association completed a two-year project, funded by „Aktion Mensch” (Germany), to support 30 families (with about 50 children). Some of these families were affected by the flood in „Asparuhovo“ and the forced demolition of the houses in „Maxuda“ neighborhood.
Applying a mobile approach for integrated support, a team of mediators, social workers, psychologists, educators and volunteers worked to overcome housing problems and related family crises. The timely social, pedagogical and psychological support enabled the people to live fully, providing the necessary care for their children as well as for their elderly members with chronic illness and disability.
The lack of good housing and other material conditions are among the most common reasons for families to separate with their children because of abandonment in institutions or removal (as a protection measure of child protection departments). This disadvantageous outcome for children was not achieved thanks to the team's approach, which helped families find their strengths and believe in their own power, relying on mutual support in the community.
The two Associations – „Sauchastie“ and „St. Andrew“ - were supported by a group of donors („KidsCare“ - Great Britain, the Friends Association of „St. Andrew” in Germany, „K.Georgief” - Germany and private donors), that provided funds for small repairs, medicines, food, payment of fees in childcare facilities, school catering, etc. The funds provided enabled the children to visit the Center for Early Childhood Development, which both associations develop as a place where children and parents play and study together.
Assessing the effect of the work done made it possible to conclude that the greatest progress was made by families in terms of improving their living conditions and children's health status. The timely support was important to overcome other family problems and bottlenecks, such as dropping out of school, continuing education, finding a job, etc.
Summer is a Season for Many Meetings and Hot Questions
We are talking about meetings with colleagues coming from the countries most frequently visited by Bulgarians. These are meetings between real colleagues standing on both sides of our common target group - families with a living between two countries.
Professor Rothschuh from Hamburg, Vilhelmsburg, says that his hairdresser is a Bulgarian, as well as many of his neighbors, and that is why he wants to learn more about the homeland of these hardworking people, and what is the reason of their problems. To learn more about the social and educational system of Bulgaria, which "sends" so many people out of their country.
At another meeting, social workers from Bremerhaven were concerned that many Bulgarians working in Germany are victims of fraud and exploitation by their employers. They propose working together to prevent trafficking people for the purpose of labor exploitation.
Other social workers (Mr Ries and Mr Bantle), representatives of the „St. Francis Heiligenbronn” Foundation of the city of Filingen-Schwangingen, want to know why the 12-year-old girl they met on Rosa Valley Street had failed to learn Bulgarian language until now, but for a few months she picked up German very well and as a result of the conversation, they got confirmation about the effectiveness of the German schools.
The team of firefighters from Munich, participating in Europe-Oriental-Rally (www.europa-orient-rallye.de), who in the meantime brought us nearly a ton of donations, in turn, discuss with our young people about "here" and "there", and quickly understand each other - a little in German and, above all, in the languageabout cars. (Nevertheless, the firefighters are from Munich!) Our youngsters are aiming at having driving licenses, and young firefighters attempt to win the rally and get the big prize - a camel to give away to a family in need in Jordan.
The end of the summer comes with the end of many meetings with colleagues from the countries we most frequently travel to, as well as with the autumn feeling of helplessness at the doorstep of our inhospitable schools. Shall we answer the same questions next summer: Why do so many children drop out of school? Why are we the first in trafficking people for sexual exploitation? There are many more questions known from many other summers.
We thank Monika Heitman from the „St. Andrew” Social Association for many of these educational meetings for all of us. We hope she will continue to be with us until the questions of past summers start to change!
Summer Smiles By The Sea - Episode 2
We were together again. This time children and parents - a total of 49 people from foster and other families, children from different housing complexes and neighborhoods, of different age and with different mother tongue. We were together with the family of Desi and Toshko Lambins (“KidsCare” Foundation) who are donors to the Association. With their money, as well as the funds provided by the “St. Andrews” SA by a firefighters team from Munich, participants in Europe-Orient-Rally, 2018 ( www.europa-orient-rallye.de ), we spent time in joint games for children and adults. Parents wished to be together again next year, and children are already planning next summer.
„Sauchastie" („Co-Participation”) in the implementation of innovative models for social work
Loyal to its name, „Sauchastie” Association marked a strong spring-summer season in which the teams trained and implemented innovative models for social and preventive work based on the empowerment of citizens, families and children.
In March and June representatives of the Association participated in two international conferences in Leeds and Berlin, dedicated to family group conferences as a method of supporting children and families (within the framework of the European Exchangeson Family Groups Conferencing project, co-funded under the program Erasmus +). In May, a team of the Association participated in the consecutive seminar for introducing the Bulgarian model "Safe Start" (as part of the "The Power of Family and Community" program of the “Lale” Foundation) and in July - in a seminar on the topic "Safe Start with the Game Element" in which the participants got acquainted with the WWW Toy Library model. We will also add the team of the Association to the many workshops, round tables and seminars dedicated to working with vulnerable families and preventing trafficking people (Municipality of Varna), mutual assistance for the prevention of sexual exploitation of young people with special educational and special social needs (HOPE project).
We expect a strong autumn season when the models will work in full power. As they say, “Chicken are counted in the autumn”!
“Sauchastie” Association received support from the "Family and Community Strengths" Program
The program is a tool for empowering parents, families and communities in order to have enough knowledge, skills and capacity to protect their children from violence, neglect, poor care, and provide them with opportunities for full development and good chances for the future. More about the Program …
With the financial support of the Lale Foundation and the Oak Foundation, the Association will continue to develop its model to support parenthood in vulnerable communities based on a mobile and family-oriented approach. The model of work will look for new opportunities to support families, creating incentives and conditions leading to the development of interactions between children and parents. In relation with the idea of supporting early childhood development, parents will learn how to play together with their children, in order not to repeat the missed childhood of the adults. Along with this, adults and young people will learn and develop new skills to get together out of the spiral of poverty.
The program "Faith in the Family Changes People's Lives"
“Sauchastie” Association is part of the network of organizations hosting family group conferences with the support of the Lale (Tulip) Foundation under the "Faith in the Family Changes People's Lives" Program.
"The Family Group Conference is a way of finding a solution to various problems where children, parents, members of the extended family and friends, gather together to make a plan. It is based on an old, traditional and easy to understand concept - the power of the family circle. The family conference allows the family to gather, mobilize their own strengths and resources, and develop the best possible plan to overcome the problem of a child or other family member. Family members make decisions and take responsibility. Professionals do not decide - they offer the necessary information, support and services." See more….
If you would like to learn more about family group conferences and use this community-based decision-making method, you can contact us.
„НОРЕ“ project – Hope, that young people with special learning needs can help themselves prevent sexual exploitation
HOPE means Helping ourselves prevent exploitation.
HOPE is a project that recruits, trains and supports peer mentors with learning disabilities to provide awareness training about sexual exploitation.
The initiative is co-funded by the Daphne programme of the European Union that encourages multi-agency cooperation to address violence against women and children.
Social Association St. Andrew (SASA), cooperating with the “Co-Participation” Association in providing outreach social work with Roma communities in Varna, is engaged with the HOPE project in Bulgaria. Its European partners within this project are the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) in Birmingham, England, running the programme in the South West and in the Midlands, and the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) based in Brussels.
The project will run from January 2017 to the end of June 2019. It is expected that all of the resources that are developed will be freely available to download so that the initiative can be replicated across Europe.
The team of the “Co-Participation” Association is partnering with SASA in the elaboration of the training model, didactic materials and leading the trainings with young people. For more information – please see the leaflet!
How the Foster Care Gives Wings
The Class teacher of a foster child from the district of Varna was awarded with a special prize at the this year ceremony “Savers of Childhood”, organized by the National Foster Care Association. Mrs. Maksimova was nominated by the foster parent and by a psychologist of “Sauchastie” („Co-participation“) Association, The foster family was also nominated – not only by the psychologist but by the community of the foster parents too.
The child entered the foster family 5 years ago. By August 2012 he became 6 years old but this is only a calendar age. The child cannot regulate his physiology needs and is still in diapers. He can move by himself but due to improperly treated health problemhe has by birth, he steps on both legs with difficulty. He always has to wear orthopedic shoes.
One year after admission to the foster family, in the social report it reads: “At the age of 7 he already uses separate words”.
Today Ogi has successfully finished third grade at “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” Primary school, Staro Oryahovo, district of Varna. For the third year he finished school with Municipal award: Diploma – special honors for high results in the educational process and exceptional effort, tenacity and persistence!!! So far, however, there has been a constant struggle with institutions and stigmas to prevent the child from not going to a secondary school.
Before he started going to first grade at school, Ogi already knows the letters, he also knows the numbers. Velichka, his foster mother, made paths to the general school asking them: “Please, do not accept him as a foster child, accept him as my own child, he is not fit for auxiliary school, he needs to socialize!!!” From then on, there was a lot of hard work for many people (teacher, speech therapist at the Social Integration and Rehabilitation Center, foster family, the whole school staff, all children at school). In the first hours of second grade, Ogi appeared to be one of the four children of the class who have not forgotten how to read after the summer holidays. He starts to retell what he has read by himself.
Today, at school, Ogi meets us saying: “Come, let me show you – this is my favorite class teacher – meet her. And these are my classmates” – and he presents everybody by their names.
This is how foster care can give wings!
Iliyan – the boy who is in the heart of mobile work with children and young people in “Maksuda”
For more than 5 years Iliyan Iliev has been part of the team working with young people for prevention of risk behavior. In the beginning as a volunteer, then as a youth mobile worker at “Sauchastie” („Co-participation“) Association and St. Andrew Social Association, Iliyan takes up everyday challenges to support his peers who are trying to find a better road, different from that of their parents. There are few people at his age who would like and are able to do it. That is why he often has to play the role of a parent, a mediator, and a social worker. Almost always he can be found at the Maksuda Youth Club (between the small bus station and the "playground"), where, along with his mobile partner, Bedriye, he offers a place for meetings and conversation where ideas for a desired change appear. Iliyan has already been there. You can see his interview here:
The team, in which Iliyan participates, works for prevention of risk behavior, following a model for mobile work, which influences the choices young people make, including those concerning their going back to school.As a result, during the last school year around 40 young people went back to school.
In the last two years Iliyan has been a mentor of young people from the village of Lyuben Karavelovo under a project of „Sauchastie“ Association, through which the aim is to develop a local community of mutually supporting each other young people and to introduce the model of mobile work among the young people in the village.
„Sauchastie“ („Co-participation“) participates in a campaign for early discovery of tuberculosis, organized by the Ministry of Health Care
A team of the Association working on a program “Improving the Sustainability of the National Program on Tuberculosis”, participates in the conduct of researches for early discovery of tuberculosis. For four weeks, 1770 people from the regions of Varna and Dobrich were examined with the help of a fluorography. Health-and-social collaborators and local mediators reached people from the risk groups and motivated them to take advantage from the opportunity to be examined free of charge. After processing the results, the team of the Association will assist in receiving them at the local communities
Together to European Care Certificate: European Mentorship in Social Care
“St. Andrew” Association, “Projects and Development” Department and “Sauchastie” („Co-participation“) Association organized on October 5th a meeting on the topic: “Together to European Care Certificate: European Mentorship in Social Care” in Varna.
On that forum an interim stage of the project “European Mentorship in Social Care” was presented, realized with the financial support of Erasmus+, with local and international collaboration with eight organizations from six countries.
The program included presentation of “European Care Certificate” (ECC), taking third place in the European Qualification Framework and covering twenty countries from the EU, and “European Mentorship in Social Care” (EMSC), which is focused on the change in client-supplier relationship in social care, through the support of the Mentor’s role at the workplace, based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.
Summer Smiles by the Sea
Our partners from London „Kids Care Charity“ donated to 27 children from foster families vacation in the village of Shkorpilovtsi. Children, foster parents and psychologists spent three days by the sea – on the beach and in the forest. The weather was friendly cooperating in the games and socializing of the children who in the end wrote:…
By the sea another team of „Sauchastie (Co-participation)” Association conducted a two-day training for children and young people from the village of Lyuben Karavelovo on the prevention of risk behavior, as part of the project „Setting up an Informal Youth Club for Mobile Work with Young People“, which is being realized with the support of който се “Workshopforpublicinitiatives”foundation under по „Program for Childand Youth Development based on anapproach that recognizes and builds the strengths of the child“, with the financial support of OAK Foundation.
„Kids Care Charity“ and „Sauchastie“ are widening the scope of supported families
„Kids Care Charity“ and „Sauchastie“ are widening the scope of supported families
Since the two organizations for a year systematically supported 15 families in unequal social status, it was decided to increase the number of supported families by at least another 15. „Kids Care Charity“ provides funds to meet children’s urgent needs such as buying food, clothes, medicines, medical tests, etc., and „Sauchastie“ Association evaluates the families and works with them to provide higher standards in childcare and to raise their wellbeing.
A summary assessment of the progress of families that have been supported for a year through systematic and multi-component work on a case, can be seen here:…
„Searchers of in/equalities”
„Searchers of in/equalities” is a campaign of the National network for children and UNICEF-Bulgaria, in which a team of young people of “Sauchastie (Co-participation)” association is participating. „The campaign focuses on prejudices and the language of hatred against the Roma community and children of Roma origin. Its aim is to change the ways of speaking against this community so that children are not placed in a situation of inequality at school, in the neighborhood, polyclinic, local media ...“ (National Network for Children and UNICEF Bulgaria). The youth team of “Sauchastie” association, together with a few other teams from around the country, within a period of three months is going to look for cases of in/equalities in their city, neighborhood, school and community. It is going to explore how the language of hatred reflects on our life and will try to turn the language of hatred into language of understanding. The path of this transformation, of course, is quite long… The important thing though is to be tireless, a real seeker of in/equalities!
More than 40 children gathered together to paint eggs in the yard of the „House with the caravan“ in the village of L.Karavelovo. They were assisted by their parents, psychologists, and volunteers. Within the colorful company of people of different age the smallest children jumped, and their faces were lit up with the spring colors of the little eggs painted by them. You can see their smiles here. The children took their colorful eggs home and promised to come back to play with smaller and bigger kids. Parents also promised to come to the Caravan House to play with the kids on board games to paint with them and share with each other what they are excited about in their daily routines of parents and citizens. Thus, the „Sauchastie“ association and the „St.Andrei“ Social Association set up a neighborhood center in the village of Karavelovo, where children, young people and adults will gather on different occasions, organize their activities themselves and together they will seek solutions to the problems. „Sauchastie (Co-participation)” association will continue to support their meetings and initiatives with the help of Workshop for Public Initiatives Foundation under the „Program for Child and Youth Development based on an approach that recognizes and builds the strengths of the child“, with the financial support of the OAK Foundation.
„DragZone“ makes teenager’s dream come true
On the eve of Christmas, a boy quietly whispers his most intimate dream, although he knows that there is no one in this world to realize it, or so he has thought so far. There is a feverish preparation for the holiday; the list of Christmas presents is ready. Every gift has a limit of 15 leva. So much the team of „Sauchastie (Co-participation)” association can afford. The boy is 16 years old and he is aware that for a sum of 15 leva (donated to each child placed in a foster family) he cannot get the dream bicycle for 700 leva but still shares his dream, albeit a joke. Christmas passes, January is set in the new year. It's also his month: cold, as cold as his dreams, except to have a bicycle. Even at sixteen, even a teenager, even a boy who has long been deprived of opportunities that have youngsters of his age, he starts to save money, but the amount is too much for him.
The team that works with the young man decides to look for opportunities to make his dream come true and addresses „Dragzone“, in the face of Galin Georgiev from Varna. A request is made to him for assistance to buy the bicycle at a discount.
After talks, it is clear that the dream model is not available in stores. Still, the hero in cycling clothes - Galin and his wonderful colleagues from „Dragzone“ - Varna, make every effort and perseverance and manage to collect the necessary parts from all the shops in Bulgaria to assemble the bicycle that was so much longed for.
In March, „Dragzone“ deliver their surprise. The bicycle is assembled and donated absolutely free for the boy's birthday! To his gift, „Dragzone“ also adds extra helmet and gloves for the boy to enjoy the adventures that would come with his new "friend". And as in every tale: „When you want something so very much, the whole universe helps you“ ... With sincere thanks to the Dragzone team: Galin, Jordan, Christian and Ivo, as well as the stores in this chain that sent the necessary parts.
About „Sauchastie“ through the eyes of one of us
Through Nora's little story taken by the Bulgarian National Television, you can find out why in „Sauchastie (Co-participation)” people feel normal, natural, sensitive, inspired. You can also see the kids and young people we work with; how our day is going and what else we can do better and more independently and with more accomplices.
You can see the story here.
Santa Claus was with us again!
On the eve of the holiday, Santa Claus came to us again, and this year we were a lot more!
With the support of “Kids Care” (London), Santa Claus gave many gifts to children in foster families from Varna and Aksakovo. At the Christmas party children and adults played together and enjoyed the good we have achieved during the year. For many children in foster families last year brought more love and health, more confidence, greater self-sufficiency and full development. That is why Santa Claus thanked the foster parents and promised to come again next year.
The good old man visited children and families, also supported by projects, realized with the help of „Kids Care”, „Aktion Mensch” (Germany), and St.Andrey social association. For several years now, specialists and mediators provide systematic support to families in need, in order to deal successfully with solving their problems and provide better development opportunities for the development of their children.
Santa Claus did not forget the Center for Early Childhood Development which, with the support of the Circle of Friends of St.Andrey social association and “Kiril Georgief” Fund (Germany) creates new opportunities for children with developmental challenges, relying on improved interaction between them and their parents and relatives.
New charity event for children from foster families
For a second successive year “Ustrem” Veloclub organizes a charity event for children in foster families, supported by “Sauchastie” Association. At the organized party the children received vouchers for visiting various activities such as swimming, fiolk dances, football and table tennis. Each child was provided with special present that will be needed for the activity for which he/she has received a voucher. Host of the event was again Spiritual and Educational Center at “St. Arhangel Mihail” church.
Project: Center for Early Childhood Development
“Sauchastie” and “St. Andrey” Social Association started a project: “Early Childhood Development” for children with special needs in “Asparuhovo” residential area. The ambition of specialists and mediators is to reach children and families who have become “invisible” for organizations and institutions and who need integrated approach in solving multi-component issues. Both associations will use the gained experience from the “Mobile Kindergarten” project, focusing their efforts on working with parents, in order to support more successfully the development of their children. Some of the first identified cases, with which work is already going on, are families who live in the vans of the Accommodation center for the victims of flooding in “Asparuhovo” residential area.
The project of both associations is financially supported by Friends circle of “St. Andrey” Social Association and “Kiril Georgief” Fund (Germany).
At school again
This year again, before the beginning of the school year, “Sauchastie (Co-participation)” association, conducted a campaign among the young people from “Maksuda”, who have interrupted their study at school. Mediators and volunteers of the Association provided information and motivated the young people to continue their education. They accompanied those who wished to be enrolled to school and assisted them in the process of their adaptation. Some of them were given help to compensate their lagging behind and overcome educational difficulties. The Association bought and delivered free notebooks, study materials, clothing and shoes for the new 2016-2017 school year.
As a result of the campaign, 24 young people (6 girls and 18 boys) aged 16 to 28 , went back to school, another 18 were supported to continue their education after they had came back to school a year ago.
The Association will continue to support those young people who wish to continue their education.
New Project for Social and Educational Work with Families
„Sauchastie” (Co-participation) Association and “St. Andrey” Social Association launched a new joint project, funded by „Aktion Mensch” (Germany). Both organizations will continue to support poor families, focusing their efforts primarily to those who have housing problems (they don’t have their own home and/or there is a risk to lose it, or they live under unfavourable conditions).
The project team will try to implement integrated approach in solving the problems of about 30 families from Varna and the region.
In turn, „Kids Care” (London), as a permanent partner of Sauchastie Association will continue to provide funds to meet urgent needs (food and medicines) of families under the risk for not being able to satisfy the basic needs of their children.
Union Section of Foster Parents in Varna
Foster parents in Varna established union section of “Podkrepa” Confederation of Labour at “Sauchastie” (Co-participation) Association. It is the first in the country labour – professional association of foster parents. The establishment of the trade union section was done in collaboration with “Sauchastie” Association and “St. Andrey” Social Association that will continue to support foster parents.
At their first meetings union members raised the most important questions related to the violation of their rights:
1. Compulsory transition from employment contracts to civil contracts of the foster parents without changing the nature of their activity. Transition to civil contracts deprives them of security and essentially breaches their labour rights (for pension, health security, benefits).
2. Compulsory change of the service provider without giving any chance to foster parents to choose a provider with whom foster parents could sign contracts for providing foster care.
3. Difficulties in interactions of foster parents with GPs, especially in preparing documents for adoption of foster children.
4. Lack of readiness on behalf schools and teachers to collaborate with foster families, to keep confidentiality for personal history of the children and to work for the successful adaptation of foster children at school.
Union members also insist on revaluating the system of single aid for the families, to revise the procedure for international adoption.
The trade union organization at the moment of establishment has 21 foster parents - members. For further information or for membership application those who wish please call 0895518310 (Eleonora Chorbadzhieva). Every foster parent can become member of the trade union organization despite of the fact that he/she works under a civil contract.
„Mobile Approach to Work with Young People in Risk and with Their Families“
„Sauchastie“ Association and Социална асоциация „St. Andrew” Social Association, in partnership with Varna municipality, organized a conference on: „Mobile Approach to Work with Young People in Risk and with Their Families“, which took place on April 27, 2016 at „Golden Tulip” hotel – Varna.
The Conference was opened by Mr. T.Ivanov – Deputy Mayor of Varna Municipality who welcomed organizers and participants in the event stressing that the mobile approach for working with young people from vulnerable environment and their families has its reserved place in the overall policy on prevention of risky behavior of young people in Varna Municipality. Mr. Ivanov expressed his support to further activities of non-governmental organizations, using this approach for working with young people.
Monika Heitman („St. Andrew” Social Association), Dr. Iliyan Rizov („Sauchastie” Association) and the mobile workers presented the history and method of mobile work with young people and their families in Varna.
For nearly 10 years both organizations, in partnership with Varna Municipality, have been working to introduce the concept for mobile work in communities of children and young people in risk. Priority of the work are the young people from “Maksuda” and other Roma neighborhoods. A team of mobile workers is set who work on terrain to improve the life situation of young people, to develop skills for life and prevention of risky behavior.
The concept for mobile work is a social and pedagogical model, oriented to the needs of the people in the street. Its development and spreading over new territories on the map of the city is imperative, due to a number of well-known causes, (aggression, drugs, etc.). The work model is not expensive, but it is being built slowly – it takes time to develop human resource and time to earn the trust of the community.
Whether the model from „Maksuda” will keep developing, if it will be applied elsewhere, depends on the will of both organizations to continue working, as well as on people, organizations and institutions understanding that this working model is the only possible way to reach those who most people consider „unapproachable” and „unreliable”. Facts speak that the proportion of vulnerable groups in Bulgaria is constantly growing.
Отбелязване на Деня на розовата фланелка
В младежкия клуба на сдружението в „Максуда” се проведе тематична среща с млади хора (14-18 г.). Доброволен мобилен работник разказа на участниците историята на Деня на розовата фланелка. Три документални филма, посветени на все по-често срещащото се насилие на улицата, в семейството и в училище, стимулираха дискусия по актуалния проблем. Младите хора разказаха и обсъдиха лични истории, свързани с упражняване на насилие. Някои предложиха начини за противопоставянето на тормоза и за снижаване на агресията сред своите връстници.
В края на събитието, представител на сдружението разказа за осъществена среща на доброволци на сдружението с Тодор Иванов - зам.кмет на Варна. Във връзка с превенцията на агресивността между младите хора, на тази среща зам.кметът и доброволците са се договорили да потърсят място в „Максуда”, на което да се направи площадка за игри. Участниците се разделиха с уговорката заедно да потърсят най-доброто място за игри в „Максуда”. Някои от тях, облечени в розови фланелки, тръгнаха да обхождат квартала с тази цел
“Sauchastie (Co-participation)” association with a new project for mobile work.
“Sauchastie (Co-participation)” association started a new project for mobile work with young people, aimed at the development of local youth society in the village of Lyuben Karavelovo. This project became possible thanks to the support of “Workshop for public initiatives” foundation on the Children’s and youth’s development programme, based on approach which takes into account and upgrades the strengths of the child, with the financial support of OAK foundation.
The team of mobile workers and volunteers of “Sauchastie (Co-participation)” association this time will apply the concept of Mobile working with young people in a rural community, using previous experience from working with young people from the town of Varna. The project is going to be realized within a period of two years. It expected that after it is completed, the young people from the village to continue to independently organize their free time and undertake initiatives aimed at improving interactions in the community to promote positive models of personal and social development.
Waiting for Christmas
This year again, children from foster families, supported by “Sauchastie (Co-participation)” association, were together at a Christmas party. We thank Santa for the wonderful mood, we also thank our friends from “Kids Care” (London). The children had great fun, they sang and danced, showing everyone how much they have grown.
"Green Marathon": Charity event for children in foster families
"Green Marathon" is a charity campaign for raising funds for children in foster families. With the funds collected were purchased sports equipment - scooters, bicycles, roller skates and helmets. The children received their gifts at special celebration organized by Cycling club"Ustrem" and “Co-participation” Association.
The celebration went with various spontaneous performances of children - singing, dancing and beatboxing performance. Despite the bad weather the fun continued outside where children played with their gifts.
Association "Co-participation” thanks Cycling Club "Ustrem" for this campaign and wishes them active season with more charity events!
Our "mobile kindergarten" continues to work
A year ago, we wanted to help eight children to overcome their difficulties in mastering the Bulgarian language and to play with them as they learn new things about themselves and the world around them. Our hopes were justified, now children attend "regular" kindergarten. We know that the experience they gained in our kindergarden, has proved to be useful for their development.
At the beginning of this school year, other children and parents came and asked "mobile kindergarten" to continue working. Thus it happened: We continue once again with the help of the Circle of Friends Social Association "St Andrew", "Liebenau" and affiliate support to Mr Georgieff („Kirill Georgieff Stiftung) from Germany.
Maybe soon we will have to set up another small group of children?
Youth volunteer group
Youth volunteers with Association “Co-participation” took part in citywide campaign in support of victims of human trafficking “Blue Heart”. Campaign is organized on the occasion of 30th July – International day for combating human trafficking by Municipality of Varna and National commission for combating trafficking in human beings.
Volunteer’s participation in the initiative is a part of Program for prevention trafficking in human beings in Roma community, funded by Municipality of Varna.
The Program aims to establish a permanent group of young volunteers of Roma origin. Through mobile work they organize awareness campaigns and open discussions among peers.
Trainings for increasing youth group capacity are implemented on regular basis. So far 12 young volunteers (13 – 20 years of age) have passed basic and advanced trainings for the prevention of human trafficking, drug abuse, prevention of risks in the Internet and skills for providing information among peers (peer approach).
Project for promoting mutual assistance between foster families
For a period of three years, a team of professionals and foster parents are going to support 40 foster families from the municipalities of Varna and Aksakovo in their desire to interact and develop their parental skills. It is expected the work on the project to stimulate the establishment of a self-developing community of the foster families in the region. This project will be implemented again in partnership with “Libenau” Association, “St. Andrew” Association, and with the financial support of “Aktion Mensch” (Germany).
The moment when we need to re-write the old textbooks and readers is coming up.
That is why, „Co-participation” Association re-issued the study “Monitoring and assessment of textbooks in real conditions”, which presents the results from evaluation of educational kits in Bulgarian language and literature for first grade, approved by the Ministry of Education. The evaluation is carried out within the project “Textbooks for first grade – monitoring and evaluation in real conditions”, implemented by the Education Inspectorate – Varna and „Co-participation” Association.
We call it a “mobile kindergarten”
We opened a small kindergarten for 8 children of families, victims of the flood in Asparuhovo. For that we were supported by our German friends from the Circle of friends of “St. Andrew” Social Association and Liebenau. Our kindergarten is open four days a week in the afternoons. It is a territory free for the children’s parents too – to play with them and to learn from the pedagogues how to play better.
Our kindergarten is small, for the children to feel in a natural environment. It is mobile because we set it up near the families in need and because the kids in it really play. (In our kindergarten the words learn and play are not in opposition). It will exist until the summer, when our four-year-old naughties will be grown up and ready to enter the big („non-mobile” :)) kindergartens. We hope that they will really be ready to continue their good start from our small and very hospitable kindergarten.
„Co-participation” Association received a mobile game room as a free of charge donation from Germany
„Co-participation” Association received a donation – a mobile game room, made by German young people with specific educational needs. Together with their labour training teacher, Mr. Fisher, they traveled 2000 km to deliver the caravan, modulated as a mobile game room.
The mobile game room, containing 15 games, is going to be used by „Co-participation” Association for the implementation of various campaigns on prevention of risky behavior and for activities aimed at reducing aggressive behavior among young people on the territory of Varna municipality.
This initiative is part of a project of „Adolf Aich” Professional Center (Germany)“, „Co-participation” Association and “St. Andrew” Social Association, with financial support by “Aktion Mensch” (Germany), and is a stage of the development of mobile work with young people with risky behavior in Varna, which is developed by „Co-participation” Association and “St. Andrew” Social Association with the support of Varna municipality.
The donation was given in the presence of Mr. Todor Ivanov, Deputy Mayor of Varna municipality, who greeted the participants in the project and thanked the German young people for their diligence and charity. The Bulgarian young people – mobile workers and volunteers, together with the German youths painted the caravan which is ready to depart, in order to facilitate the interrelation between young people and adults from various ethnical, social and age groups.
In the next months the mobile game room can be seen at places where young people with risky behavior gather together. It can also be ordered by parents, teachers and children who would like to have fun together, following the principle “We all win!”.
19.06.2014 (evening) – We were keeping an uninterrupted contact with our foster families in Asparuhovo. The foster parents Shaban, Dzhemeliya and Ilko coped with the situation on time and children were taken out of the deluge. However, their houses are flooded and uninhabitable.
20.06.2014 (morning) – We held an urgent meeting with representatives of „South Stream”, resulting in a Red Cross donation of 50,000 BGN.
20. - 21.06.2014 – The Association's Roma mediators worked together with the Red Cross volunteers in the Roma neighborhood in Asparuhovo. They were giving out food and water to the disaster victims. The Association provided buckets and spades for unwatering the houses.
22.06.2014 – The Roma mediators worked on the spot in order to identify the most urgent needs of the suffering families. They were providing assistance to volunteers from the country.
23.06. and the following days – The Roma mediators provided assistance to psychologists and social workers who work with the suffering families. 'Co-participation' Association provided logistic support to the arriving volunteers from nongovernmental organizations in the country, which work on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program – Reduce Vulnerability to HIV among Roma Community Members, financed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
We thank to the following nongovernmental organizations:
"RegionalRomaUnion"Foundation – Burgas;"LARGO" Association - Kyustendil, "Future" Association – Pazardzhik; "Roma – Plovdiv" Foundation for Regional Development – Plovdiv; "Roma Health" Foundation – Sliven; "Initiative for Health" Foundation – Sofia; "World withoutLimits"Association –Stara Zagora; "Tolerance and Mutual Assistance"Foundation – Haskovo; "Suffering from Asthma" Foundation – Yambol.
Wethankfor the support of:
Monika Heitmann (Liebenau), Friends of Bulgaria in Germany Circle, Dr. Tonka Varleva(Director, Directorate for Management of SpecializedDonor-Funded Programs, Ministry of Health); Dr. Elena Kabakchieva(long-term consultant within the Ministry of Health); University of Shumen (Department for Information, Qualification and Lifelong Learning – Varna); "South Stream".
Project "Ready for School 2014 – 2015"
Trust for Social Alternative Foundation concluded a contract with 'Co-participation' Association as a sub-contractor for Ready for School 2014 - 2015 Project on the territory of Varna district and Balchik municipality.
The expected project implementation effect is a considerable increase in kindergarten attendance of children from vulnerable communities, in order to enhance their readiness for school and to ensure equal start in education for them.
World Bank and Open Society Foundation are going to make project assessment in order to analyze the most successful interventions and to recommend the most effective strategies for dealing with the problem with pupils' dropping out of the educational system.
What happened one year after a first prize was awarded to 'Co-participation' Association as a delegated supplier of Municipality of Varna for the foster care service?
For one year, we have found foster families for more children, thus the number of children taken out of institutions exceeded 120. The total number of our foster families reached 50. Along with this, we were supporting the foster care service in the municipality of Aksakovo with specialists and supervision, thus the number of foster families reached 30 there. So far, so good.
The other answer to the question, what happened one year later, is as follows:
One year after the foster care related work as a municipal delegated activity of 'Co-participation' Association was being shown as a model to the remaining municipalities in Bulgaria (see here: Bulgarian, French, Romanian), Municipality of Varna decided to cancel the contract with the Association unilaterally.
The reason is the powerof a journalist to change the social program of Varna so that the Municipal Council didn't understand that it leaves 50 foster families in the city without qualified social and psychological support. This journalist's motive can be seen in Protocol No. 22 presented on 05.02.2014 at the session of Social Activities and Residential Policy Commission, and namely, that this is made in order to ensure "a disciplining effect on all nongovernmental organizations". That's right, let all NGOs which work with delegated budget in Varna know that they can lose their contracts if a journalist (supported with money and power) does not agree with their activity on a certain case, regardless of the fact that the State Agency for Child Protection (SACP) may have passed a judgment on this case as follows: „The Commission which carried out the inspection considers that, in the course of work on the case with children ХХХ, 'Co-participation' Association – Varna, as a supplier of the social services "Education, Consultation and Support Center for Foster Parent Candidates and Foster Parents" and "Public Support Center", was lead by the higher interests of the child and didn't admit a breach of their rights, referred toin art. 10, par. 1 of the Child Protection Law and in art. 3, points 1 and 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)" (page 9 of SACP Report for inspection carried out on the basis of a warning with incoming No. 97-М-19 dated 19.09.2013).
Up to that moment, nobody has presented any motives for cancellation of our contract before 'Co-participation' Association. The Mayor didn't indicate motives, he just notified that funds were voted for the period till April 30th, 2014, and that is why the service was terminated. But the service termination is pre-conditioned (and foretold) by the Social Activities and Residential Policy Commission, because it voted no money, after a proposal made by the group of political party GERB, in the presence of the Deputy Mayor and with the latter's full consent.
In other words, the Mayor indicated that there are no funds available, and the reason for the lack of money is the desire of the Social Activities and Residential Policy Commission and the Deputy Mayor to not provide money for this service. A certain motive, expressed by one of the Commission members, can be grasped in the Protocol of its session, and namely, that "the quality of foster care in Varna must be improved" but nobody has indicated any facts that the quality provided by 'Co-participation' Association hasn’t been well.
The result of the so "enhanced quality" of the foster care service today is that 50 foster families in Varna do not have a supplier's support and the Municipality cannot (and/or doesn't want to) engage itself with the issue: who shall assume the obligation for the support of these families. Child Protection Department (over which the same journalist is very worried) should sort out itself the mess caused by used power, personal interests and feeling of revenge towards those who don't listen.
We don't want to comment anymore. We haven't discussed this case before and we will not speak about it now, as we obey the laws and children's rights. We will not turn yellow! It is enough that a journalist used to willingly publish data and describe the situation with personal names of children and parents for months on end.
We don't want to heroize ourselves either. We recollect with irony that "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished", as people say. And we will continue to work, as far as we are able and as far as we are allowed to. Because "It's one thing to want to do something, another thing to be able to do it", as the character of a Haytov's popular story says, "and quite different thing to be allowed to do it", we could add.
Will we succeed to find the section of: to want – to be able – to be allowed to do something? You will understand if you continue to take interest in what we do in 'Co-participation' Association or, at the best, if you become our co-participants.
Delegation from Berlin visited ‘Co-participation’ Association
A delegation lead by the Deputy Mayor of BerlinFranziska Giffey visited the Youth Health and SocialCenter of 'Co-participation' Association. The guests met the team of mediators in a Roma community and acquainted themselves with the Association activities performed in the Roma neighbourhoods located in the city and in near villages.
Franziska Giffey related a story, how her municipality tries to cope with the newly arriving emigrants, part of them arriving from Bulgaria. The municipality of Berlin established a group to particularly deal with Romany issues. Consultants are appointed to support the integration of newly arrived persons, by giving directions for professional fulfillment. Preparatory classes are opened in schools, so that children can learn German and courses for parents are organized to make them literate.
Mobile work for self- help of families with social disadvantages
Co- participation Association and St.Andrey Social Association commence a new project based on the Mobile wok concept. On the basis of the self- help principle the project’s team is going to support local communities for developing their parental capacity and is going to create a local resource of mobile workers to support families in which there are children or adults with chronic diseases and handicapped people.
The project is financed by the Aktion Mensch association which supports a third joint project in a row of both organizations.
We established Youth fund- Maksuda
This is an initiative of the young people volunteers of Co- participation Association and of the St.Andrey Social Association to support families who have fallen in critical situations related to the shortage of funds for satisfying vitally important needs.
The lack of funds is usually the reason for permanent or irretrievable family damages which affect mostly children who are brought up in them for example their abandonment in institutions, dropping out from school, systematic malnutrition, marginalization, etc.
‘Supporting parenthood’ - a new project for the prevention of abandoning children
With the financial assistance of Tulip Foundation and OAK Foundation, Co- participation Association is about to commence a new project to work with families in risk of abandonment, violence and insufficient care of the children. A big part of the families who are about to be covered by the project live on the territory of Varna municipality mostly in: Gabenata mahala neighbourhood (a part of the Roman neighbourhood in Vl.Varnenchik region), the Kosovo, Probuda and Korea quarters (parts of the Roman neighbourhood Maksuda), the Roman neighbourhood in Kamenar village.
On the basis of the information acquired in the work of the Association of prevention of abandoning children so far this project provides for better focus on families who are in an immediate risk to abandon their children. It is planned to support families in which men bring up their children by themselves. The activity of the separate communities (in neighbourhoods and quarters) is going to be sought and the local resources are planned to be used to a greater extent aiming to reach a stage of independent coping with problems and undertaking local initiatives. In relation to the interventions of the work, this project provides for more various range of instruments covering the different stages and parties of the development of a wide range of problems which families with social disadvantages meet.
Ambassador De Cabanes visited Youth health and social center of Co- participation Association
As a representative of the funding party of the Prevention of traffic of people from different ethnic groups project focused on the Roman minority in Bulgaria, Ambassador De Cabane visited Youth health and social center and met the project’s team and partners in Varna.
The Ambassador was acquainted with the work on site, done by the Roman mediators. Forthcoming tasks related to the project’s implementation were discussed. Mr.Todor Ivanov- Deputy- mayor of Varna Municipality and the Chairman of the Local commission of people traffic struggle and Svetlana Koeva- Director of Preventions Directorate in Varna Municipality participated in the meeting.
Ambassador De Cabane expressed his satisfaction with the project’s implementation, the co- operation with Varna Municipality and the support by the Local commission of people traffic struggle which proved to be one of the most active and successful local commissions in the past years.
A team of mobile workers were trained in Germany to work with young people in risk
The team of the New territories for mobile work with youth in Varna town project, implemented by Co- participation Association and St.Andrey Social Association, visited Baden-Württemberg district in Germany and passed training for mentors in mobile work with young men with risky behaviour.
The trainees had the opportunity to get acquainted with various models of mobile work with youth, applied in different towns and neighbourhoods in Germany. This was possible due to Renovabis Foundation (Germany and the circle of friends with the St.Andrey Social Association).
Co- participation Association would like to thank its friends- the trainers: Prof. Dr. Walther Specht (Tübingen University), Stephan Schlenker, Steffanie Ehrlich, Mitja Frank and Manuela Fleer from Konstanz town, Marcel Karow from Offenburg town, Monika Kordula from Ravensburg town, Natascha Zöller and Matthias Reuting from Stuttgart.
We would also like to thank Dr.Annemarie Hofmeister-Höfner from Munich and her family who as hosts of the traditional Lentils’ evening gathered many of their friends and people of the circle of friends of the St.Andrey Social Association with chairman Ulrich Kuhn.
Special thanks to the volunteer Mr. Michael J. Wilkendorf (a municipal councilor in Überlingen) who in the capacity of a driver and guide secured the team’s safe moving from town to town.
Co- participation Association will be glad to welcome all its German friends in Bulgaria!
Summary on the eve of Leaders’ of the Bulgarian National Revival day
We, from ‘Co- participation’ association can congratulate ourselves on the following achievements:
We were finding, investigating, training and supporting foster families so that as many children as possible can be taken out of institutions. Today, our foster families are 57.
We accomplished all the above and many other good deeds in co- participation with: The Global fund of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria struggle; the Ministry of health; the National commission of human trafficking; the Embassy of the Republic of France in Bulgaria; the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Bulgaria; Varna Municipality; Aksakovo Municipality; Social Aid Directorate- Varna; ‘Lale’ Foundation; ‘OAK’ Foundation; ‘St.Andrey’ Social association; Aktion Mensch association (Germany), „Agnes Philippine Walter” foundations, „Kids Care” foundation and many others.
These are only numbers, the rest is ‘invisible for the eyes’…
‘On nameless land’- Iskra Tsenkova (TEMA Weekly newsmagazine, number 33/ 612, 26-01.09.2013)
If you have already reached the bottom of society, you can save yourself the way you can, actually- the way Romans in Maksuda quarter can do it.
On the western slope of the ravine the view from the road is shocking. The Maksuda ghetto, the biggest Roman quarter in Varna, is buried in tons of waste. In this part of the town you forget that you are only a minutes’ walk from the modern center. The hovels made of available materials bend over the stinking canal. Half- naked children breathe glue on the streets and heroin, Irina says, can be bought on every corner. This place is a real infectious bomb- with its dirt and extreme poverty, with the incurable tuberculosis which strikes down entire families. All the evil starts from Maksuda the people of Varna say- thefts, prostitution, souteneurs, drug addicts, drug dealers, people traffickers... >>>>
New territories for mobile work with young people in Varna
„Co-participation“ Association and St.Andrey Social Association, funded by Renovabis Foundation (Germany), started a new, two- year project for mobile work with young people.
This project aims at the multiplication of experience from the former work of the two organizations with young people of the marginalized communities who inhabit the southern part of Maksuda. The project plans mobile work with young people on the streets to expand by covering other parts of the neighbourhood as well. With the assistance of the former team for mobile work new mobile workers are going to be trained to work in the area of the small bus terminal. For this purpose a new youth club is going to be opened for all young people who wish to talk about their problems and to look for information, consultations and training.
During the last year as a result of the mobile work with young people in Maksuda, 28 young people returned to school and 9 received support in order to continue their studies. These results both organizations achieved by the support of Varna municipality, the International association for mobile work with young people- ISMO (Stuttgart), „Aktion Mensch” and „Agnes Philippine Walter” foundations, as well as by groups of young people from Germany (Konstanz town, Offenburg town, etc.)
You can learn more about the contents of mobile work with young people from the publications of this website.
Yoga for children in foster families
"Zaedno" Association and the team of the Foster care center organize yoga practices for children placed in foster families. This initiative is part of the project funded by Varna municipality (Preventions Directorate) directed to work with children with problematic behavior.
Every Saturday 10 children visit Iskra-1924 Community center where a specialized yoga instructor waits for them to hold the next meeting for the development of their resources of self- regulation and reducing their general level of tension and aggression. Foster parents share that yoga practices are welcomed with huge interest by children who have the opportunity to develop their owns skills of interaction with the people of their age in the group and to raise their self-estimation.
“Co- participation” performs family group conferences
„Co- participation“ Association already applies in its activity related to de- institutionalization of child care the method of family group conferences. An Association’s team was specially trained to work using this method by a team of Lale Foundation (project With faith in family). As a result of the first family group conferences held in May and August we expect the re- integration in their own families of 2 children from institutions and of 3 children- from foster families.
„Kids Care” supports ‘Co-participation’ so that there are more foster families in Varna district
„Kids Care” (London), a newly established charity organization of Bulgarians living abroad contacted "Co- participation" Association in order to support the development of foster care in Varna district. On their initiative a contract for funding two positions was concluded (а social worker and a psychologist) who are going to be paid 600 BGN (with included insurance at employer’s expense). We expect another 30 children to be taken out of institutions for a period of one year by opening the two new positions.
In this way "Co- participation" Association is going to receive financial aid for a part of its activities with which it has been exceeding its work capacity for a few years as а delegated supplier of Varna municipality for providing the foster care service.
The foster carе model of ‘Co-participation’ Association is one of the 13 best practices in providing social services to children
On 9th of July 2013 the National network for children presented 13 good practices of co- operation between municipalities and non- governmental organizations in the area of policies for children and families among which the one of the Foster care center- ‘Co- participation’ Association in partnership with Varna municipality. The practices are described in a handbook, published with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of France, the National association of municipalities of the Republic of Bulgaria and the National network for children.
„Co-Participation” Association with first prize for project of the year!!!
In the capacity of delegated supplier of Varna Municipality of the Foster care service, „Co-Participation” Association got first prize for 2012 in the traditional competition Project of the year of a social sphere NGO. The jury (business representatives, BNT and His Excellency Mathias Hopfner, Ambassador of Germany) specified our activity as the most successful and effective out of the all 38 nominated projects (reaching the maximum effect with a small crew). I hope that the results achieved will reach society. They are part of the good things that happened during the years in our municipality.
Project: Prevention of traffic of people of ethnic groups focusing on the Roman minority in Bulgaria
„Co-Participation” Association is a partner of the National commission of people traffic struggle in implementing a pilot project in Bulgaria. It is being implemented on the territory of Varna municipality, the permanent representation of France at the UNO Service and other international organizations in Vienna and the Embassy of France in Romania. An association crew is going to perform activities on site in the town's Roman neighbourhood in order to increase the vulnerable groups' knowledge in relation to risks regarding people traffic.
We go on working!
Together with the St.Andrey social association we finished a two- year project Mobile work with youth in the Maksuda roman neighbourhood, financed by the Aktion Mensch association (Germany). We continue together with the St.Andrey social association and supported by Varna municipality to make popular the idea of mobile work in Varna and to implement it through our activities in youth community (15- 25 year- olds) with problematic behaviour.
HIV/ AIDS prevention, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis
„Co-Participation” Association has been working on the HIV/ AIDS prevention and control program (2004- 2014) on the territory of North- eastern Bulgaria and on the Strengthening of the national tuberculosis program in Bulgaria program on the territory of Varna district. Both are programs of the Ministry of health financed by the Global AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria struggle fund. In implementing both programs „Co-Participation” Association provides the Roman community with health and social services (with special focus on prostituting women and men; young people with many sexual partners; men who have sex with men, etc.) through developing outreach activities, case work, trainings, having medical examinations, information campaigns, etc.).