"Heart for Bulgaria" has completed many projects over the years. Here are some snippets of what we were able to do thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and tireless effort of our workers and partners -- a big thank you!
How it all started and
why we do what we do...
'Donate Warmth' - a great success!
The work of "Heart for Bulgaria" started long before the Association was registered in 2012. Often in life, ‘the need is the call’ to act. We cannot be indifferent when people suffer and one should do what one can do. Bulgaria has a high rate of abandoned or orphaned children and in recent decades several organisations have come to their rescue. With the joining of the EU (2007), Bulgaria has made big progress in view of the problems regarding orphans and abandoned children, as well as the poor and disabled.
The social implications of orphaned and abandoned children are many. First, there is the suffering and trauma of the children. No one should suffer the rejection from their own family, the very nucleus of society that is supposed to give love, acceptance and security each human being needs to have a decent start in life and become a healthy and responsible adult. Secondly, children under such circumstances often have learning difficulties and thus trouble in school. We all know that a troubled child can’t learn as it should. A recent study in the UK has shown how important the stability of the home is for a child’s academic development. Further, if one fails at school, prospects of work and financial stability are in jeopardy, which, in turn, will have serious consequences on both the individual and the country. Too often children who are not properly integrated into school and work, will end up on the wrong side of the law, which, again, has further implications for the nation and its social services. A rise in crime will mean a rise in expenses (prison, court cases, damages etc). It all comes back to the family. Of course, there are people who ruin themselves despite all the best conditions in life; we are concerned with those who deserve a chance because they will make the best of it.
Bulgaria has captured Gordon's heart in many ways—its people, its country and its opportunities. Once he was confronted with the needs, together with a genuine heart-felt call to do something about it, his mind was made up to contribute a little towards the well-being of those we can reach and help. Since the year 2000 Gordon has been helping individuals on a private level as well as through the support of generous sponsors. Since moving back to Bulgaria in 2011, Gordon and his family are more determined than ever to make a difference—at least for a few good people. Veneta has been working with disadvantaged people during her student years in Sofia, and has a great for her nation -- she's a great patriot and is determined to contribute her part to the well-being of her people. Their children are also involved in their work, growing up with a heart to help and taking responsibility for others.
When one finds the right people to work with, the right people to help, and has some means to do so, a brighter future for some can be initiated. That is why "Heart for Bulgaria" exists. With a heart for a people and the nation change is possible!
Heart for Bulgaria, in partnership with FCTrelief, could donate 'warmth' to over 30 households. In the cold Bulgarian winter, this is a vital matter. The over 30 food packages were also gratefully received.
Heating or Eating?
Heating or Eating? This is, unfortunately, an existential issue for some people. Our campaign took place 'at the right time' and was very helpful, said "Baba Mara" (Maria Donova), former vice-president of the Red Cross in Bratsigovo, Bulgaria. Due to Corona restrictions things were very difficult for many people. Our campaign could, therefore, meet existential needs. Many of the people we helped are people with disabilities, most of whom are already retired. Some of them have a certain amount of support, others little or none. In this way, our constructive partnership with the local organisation of people with disabilities was especially helpful and appreciated.
Partnership and Support
Dimitrika Kaneva, the vice-president of the local organisation for people with disabilities, expressed her gratitude towards all the sponsors -- 'may you be healthy and well!' Both the fire wood as well as the food packages was a welcome support. But so was the personal attention we were able to give to people during distribution, which is especially precious due to their usual loneliness and even more so under the isolation policy due to Corona restrictions.
Already on 3 December, the international Day of People with Disabilities, we could donate fruit to the 120 members of the local organisation of people with disabilities; this was in partnership with the local municipality. Through our partnership with Dimitrika Kaneva we could give away over 30 food packages. She helped us find the right people for our fire wood and food donations, such that have little or no state or family support. We are grateful for this type of partnership so the donations can be used in the most effective way.
Heart for Bulgaria also upgraded the PC, screen and TV at the local club room of the organisation for people with disabilities. We also donated an electric stove, so they can cook and bake when they meet for fellowship. This is especially important for lonely people. We therefore hope that the restrictions will soon be lifted so they can meet again. I was invited to their first baking session...
Apart from 'warmth' and food, we were able to help a few people in other relevant ways. Maria Slatkova, for example, got a new and better in-ear hearing aid. She is now again able to watch TV and engage with people due to clearer hearing. She is so happy about this! A first-grader, who recently lost her dad, got a laptop so she can study online. This, too, brought big joy and was a relevant way of helping. We bought a washing machine for a poor family with a child with Down Syndrom, so that they are no longer forced to wash outside with cold water. A mother with an adult daughter who has psychological disabilities got an electric stove. A family who has a daughter with a very rare autoimmune sickness was helped with fire wood and much needed medication. In this way, we could help in several different ways, where needs were urgent.
What Heart for Bulgaria was also able to support around Christmas was warm meals for medics at the ambulance and emergency wards in Pazardzhik. As in many places, hospitals here, too, are overburdened. We donated warm lunches during ten days to 22 staff in partnership with two different restaurants. This campaign motivated others to continue to show support to these medics.
A great success
This Christmas campaign was a great success! We are very happy and satisfied with the results. Many thanks from us and the grateful people we helped for the generous support from our donors! This campaign brought about a wonderful and positive change in the lives of many people.
Special Needs School
One of the first projects of "Heart for Bulgaria" was the sponsoring of an industrial cooker in the then Special needs School Ivan Vazov in Pazardzhik. The kitchen for the special needs children were provided with better facilities and infrastructure.
Over the following years, thanks to a good partnership with the School's director and psychologist, "Heart for Bulgaria" sponsored learning aid tools, sports equipment and presents for the kids at Christmas and celebrations.
Recently, "Heart for Bulgaria" sponsored the full renovation of what is now a sensory room for the disabled children. The large room was full renovated with new windows, doors, flooring and walls. Thanks to others the school managed to equip the room with its sensory equipment.
The largest and most costly project "Heart for Bulgaria" was able to execute to date, was the renovation of the maternity ward at the state hospital in Pazardzhik. We were able to secure new beds, scales and other infrastructure, as well as give the whole ward a facelift, and, very important, to make the staff room worthy of its brilliant staff. The builder, contributing to our donation, did the work for free! With great joy we also sponsored one of the annual "Babinden" (Day of the Midwife and Grannies), honouring this important profession. The new head of the ward is an excellent doctor who seeks to achieve the best of European standards for the new mothers.
Orphanage in Bratsigovo
The day-care centre for children and adults is a sort of boarding school with a lot of educational opportunities. "Heart for Bulgaria" was able to sponsor a karaoke machine and a keyboard to develop the musical skills of these precious disabled kids. We also sponsored several Christmas parties and presents over the years.
The director is an excellent and dedicated servant of the disabled and has herself a disabled son. This partnership has been one of the most fruitful and enjoyable over the years!
Hospital and Red Cross
"Heart for Bulgaria" has organised two major aid transports and a number of smaller ones. The state hospital Pazardzhik and the Red Cross (Branch Pazardzhik and Bratsigovo) have been the main recipients of medical and other goods.
A hospital in Switzerland had donated electric hospital beds, furniture and other utilities we transported to Pazardzhik. The Red Cross received clothes, bicycles and other aid for their work in the city and region.
Home for disabled Adults
"Heart for Bulgaria" has also invested a lot of its resources in the orphanage in Bratsigovo, 25 km away from Pazardzhik. The first donation there was six warm, nice winter jackets for six of the teenage orphans (or semi-orphans or abandoned children). This donation was one of our first ones and by the Spring the following year we learned an important lesson when we heard that two of the boys had sold them! But it also become an object lesson for them: the next winter is coming and how will you be kept warm? Well, we realised that orphans often don't think ahead. When asked how they see their lives in ten years, the first answer was, No one ever asked me such a question!
Apart from clothes donations and organising birthday parties with big cakes, "Heart for Bulgaria" also sponsored a hairdressing salon, the first in an orphanage. A renowned hairdresser and her team used to train orphans with the skills so that they would have something to start with once their time came to leave the home. These were important sponsoring projects that helped many older orphans who lack family support and confidence to manage life.
Apart from donations, Gordon used to spend his free Saturdays playing football with 10 to 40 boys, having fun but also teaching them important life skills such as team work, focus and determination to win, learning from your mistakes (not shouting down the one who made a mistake but covering him!) We participated in the school tournament and arranged a mini football tournament with a fundraiser for the orphanage with our own team from the orphans!
Another very precious work "Heart for Bulgaria" was able to do was support and renovation at a home for disabled adults in Pazardzhik. We were able to donate several aircons and many new windows. As part of one of our aid transports, we could secure sports and fitness equipment for the disabled to exercise with their physio therapist. "Heart for Bulgaria" was also sponsor at some of their Christmas celebrations with presents and food.