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Family projects in Sofia, Plovdiv and Velingrad

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Period of execution: 1993 – 2006 Description: The purpose of the 4 family projects, developed during this period in the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv, and Velingrad, is to decrease the number of children entering specialized institutions. The main purpose is to help the upbringing of the child in a safe family environment. The unique thing about the projects is the research which was made when they were first started – researchers from the organization searched for answers of the question: “Why do children go to social homes?”. For the first time, the approach of multidisciplinary teams supporting children and families before and during the family crisis is implemented. The projects covered around 900…

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Program “Foster care”

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Period of execution: 1993 – 2002   Description: The program “Foster care” is realized in partnership with “Sirak Fond”. The main purposes are to ensure opportunities for the transitioning of the children from institutional to family care as well as to confirm foster care as a primary alternative to the existing system for institutional care and advocacy for positive changes in the Bulgarian legislation, regarding child protection. 41 children and their families were helped during the execution of the…

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Projects at the specialized institutions in the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv, and Velingrad

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Period of execution: 1994 – 2005   Description: The projects are targeted towards the opportunities for social integration of the children at the specialized institutions for children in the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv and Velingrad and provide a number of services, including living conditions, education, and the individual development of the children through qualified social help, training sessions outside the institution, professional orientation, birthday celebrations and integrating activities. By working with the employees, the teams of the foundation set as a priority the motivation and education of the employees for improving the care for…

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Project “Children and Families” – Plovdiv and Haskovo

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Period of execution: 1997 – 2002   Description: The project “Children and families” was realized in the cities of Plovdiv and Haskovo Municipalities in partnership with national and local authorities. The project demonstrated the effective functioning of a range of alternatives to institutional care services in the community for the first time in Bulgaria, which aim to prevent the separation of families and leaving children at social homes (prevention); to reintegrate children from social homes to their biological families (reintegration); and to accommodate children at foster families (foster care). Thanks to the project, 200 children did not enter into specialized institutions, and 8 children found foster parents. The project introduced foster care for the first time as well as the services of returning children from homes and the prevention of abandonment. The model “Department for the child and the family” was also created for the first time. This model was implemented at a national level and became a base for the now existing departments for child protection. “For Our Children” foundation is proud of the efforts it has invested in the creation of the national policy and the child protection system in our…

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Local health center “Rakitovo”

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Period of execution: 1998 – 2005   Description: The project “Local Health Center – Rakitovo” started with the financial support of the European Union for a two-year period (1998 – 2000). Medical specialists and health care professionals provided health service at the Health center, the Roma school, and at the homes of patients in the Roma neighborhood in Rakitovo. The specialists also initiate campaigns for increasing health culture. The specialists of the foundation are trying their best to attract professionals who can give service to the Roma community. In the time-frame of the project, in the Health Center, there were 16 370 examinations, manipulations, and consultations which include 892 women and girls, whom a gynecologist examined and took care of, as well as dentist examinations and serving to 1362 people. After the end of the project, upon request of the municipality of Rakitovo, the whole equipment was donated and the municipality took over the center as a part of our policy for developing of stability of the project…

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Project “Children’s House” – 1

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Period of execution: 2001 – 2005   Description: “Children’s House” is the first in the country residential alternative to life in specialized institutions. With donations from British residents, we bought a property in Komatevo neighborhood in the city of Plovdiv which, after realized repair activities, became a social service for children at risk. At the house, social services place children from 3 to 12 as the accommodation is temporary, while they find a long-term solution for the child. The service provides a place for living, equipped like a family space, with separate rooms for eating, bathing, sleeping and spending free time. The employees work for developing the independence of the children who have the opportunity to take part in food preparation, doing laundry and in all activities, common for the family. At the moment, the house is run by Plovdiv Municipality as part of the policy of “For Our children” foundation to give authority to the communities to run the services in support of their children and families on their own. “For Our Children” foundation is proud of the fact that from the beginning, not a single child from the house continued their life in a social home, after their stay…

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A story about the good that changes faiths

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People say that good things happen when you least expect them. This is the experience of a foster parent who has been looking for a miracle her entire life. And found it after many of years. In the newspaper.   Prehistory   Margarita Taneva is a woman with great life experience. At the age of 57, Margarita has a daughter, a grandson, had a happy marriage which ended too early with the death of her husband. For Margarita, this was the hardest moment, a moment which she didn’t know how to go through.   Year after year the woman carried this burden inside of her but everyday fought for her daughter, who at the time was 4 years old, not to feel her father’s loss. She fought to move on, and as usual, to bring to the world and to the people around her kindness and miracles.   “I have always felt the inner need to help people, to do something good, no matter how small it is, for them,” she said.   And one day, after years of searching for that good which would help her overcome the sadness, she came across an article. In a newspaper.   “We are looking for foster parents,” was the headline of the article from 2015, remembered Margarita. She started reading. The article, however, didn’t give enough information. She searched the Internet for “Foster care” and clicked the first link which appeared.   “It was the website of “For Our Children” foundation.”   She read some more. She called the foundation. They told her about it. She found out what “foster care” actually was and what were these people who are parents but temporary. She found out that she could help children, left without their own family, children who, without foster parents, are doomed to a life at a social home… “And we all know what that means.”   The application   She applied. She went through a 6-month training during which Margarita understood what awaits her if she becomes a foster parent. She met active foster parents with the help of the foundation. They told her about all those hidden moments of real happiness which children give them. Happiness which didn’t have an equivalent. They also told her about the hardest moments – the coming of every new child… and the separation from him/her.   Her daughter and her friends were mostly afraid of the moments of separation, many times they asked her how was she going to go through them. To this question, she responded that when you take care of a child, even for a short period of time, with the understanding that you are doing this for her or his sake, you have to neglect your feelings. You have to learn to love another human being, to give him/her all your love, with the clear understanding that he/she will not remember you and most probably will never find out about you. But a part of you will always live in him/her.   “The emotional preparation begins from the application. Even then you have to be aware that you have to take care of this child, to give him/her everything he/she needs, knowing that one day you will separate from him/her. Because he/she will find his/her own family, and the job of the foster parent is to give him/her all the love which he/she is supposed to receive from the family until he/she finds it,” she shared.     The moment   After she went through an assessment, in the middle of 2016 Margarita was approved for a professional foster parent of newborns and babies until the age of 6 months.   She chose to take care of babies because she believes that if an abandoned child gets the chance to live in a family from the first day of his/her life, then his/her adaptation will be easier later and will be adopted much faster.   Her theory is justified – for the past 2 years she took care of 3 children and all of them were adopted before they turn 1. And even though it is hard for her to separate with the children every time, Margarita accepts her professional path not as a job but as a mission which changes people’s faiths. And doesn’t give up.   “To be a foster parent is something which changes your own faith as well – I feel satisfaction which I cannot describe, not with words.”   With foster care, Margarita found that good. Which she has been looking for for a long time.   And this good she will continue to give to the most vulnerable human beings so that they feel loved, protected and find their family.   And around the Christmas holidays, Margarita feels even happier for choosing this path. Because together with her daughter, her grandson, and the little Yolina, whom she takes care of now, they will have the most magical Christmas. A Christmas, which Yolina would not have…

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Marielka from “Children’s House” received the most valuable Christmas present

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Today one family received an early Christmas gift. Two parents who have tried for many years have been waiting to have their own child, today found the happiness and took their daughter home. And one child left without mom and dad in the first moments of its life finally got a chance for a happy childhood in a safe and loving family environment.   Our “Children’s House” said goodbye to Marielka, wishing her to be healthy, happy, and always loved. And to her parents – Rayna and Peter, our team wished to stay together and have many unforgettable moments with their long-awaited dream – their little daughter.           Marielka was the big sister in our House who came to was right after her birth, just a few days old. Even left without a mother and a father, in our face she found the love and safety every baby needs. From the very beginning, she was very loving, liked the attention and didn’t miss a chance to want a kiss or a hug.     Marielka went through a lot of “first” things with us – she had her first teeth, made her first steps, celebrated her first birthday, heard her first words. All these special moments we preserved in many photos which we gave to Rayna and Peter – so that they can keep the memories from her first home, with her first family.   With tears of joy, but a little sadness too, our team sent the family for which, we believe, the best, the most waited moments are yet to come. Moments, full of love, care, and a lot of family happiness….

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To live in order to help – the path of a foster parent

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Christmas holidays are the time when everyone opens their hearts for the good, wakes up perhaps their gentle sensitivity; they start to ask, “How can I help?” and “To whom?”   Four years ago, again around Christmas, a mother inspired by her child decided she wanted to help, but not just once. She wanted to live in order to help. To accept – the other’s pain, happiness, and to give – hope, impetus, life. And chose to become a foster parent.   Marina Stefcheva devoted herself to the care for children. Before she discovered foster care, she worked as a nurse while Hristiyan did not appear in her life – her son and her inspiration.   She said about him that from a young age, Hrisi wants to help other children who have not had his luck – to have a happy childhood. Then Marina realizes that she has the power to fulfill not only his desire but also the desire of dozens of children for a real family.   She applied for becoming a foster mother at the beginning of 2014, underwent intensive ten-month training, led by the team of the Foster Care Center at “For Our Children” foundation, and then through a committee that approved her as a foster parent at the beginning of 2015.   She was soon given her first child, for whom she was taking care of for 1 year. Right on Child’s Day 2016, the boy is adopted and forever leaves Marina’s home.   In less than a month after that, she accepts her second child – Vasil, whom she is taking care of until present day.   Vasko was born in clinical death – a child, unfortunately, inherited a lot of infections and complications that led to him being born prematurely and weighing only 1 kg and 700 grams. He spent 5 months in the hospital where he was fighting the inherited diseases, then was staying with Marina because his biological mother and father weren’t able to take care of him.   Vasko had the development of a newborn when he was 5 months old, weighing only 5 kilograms. He held his legs back to his tummy, cried every time Marina left the room. For two months, because of the pain of the complications with which he was born, Vasil was crying endlessly. Day and night.   Seeing that Vasko was seriously lagging behind, Marina immediately looked for help from to our Community Support Center “St. Sofia” for cooperation and the little one started working with rehabilitator. Now Vasko is completely healthy, walks and runs freely, but still does not allow Marina to leave the room for longer. As she says – “Vasko and I are like hooked vessels .”   From his placement until July 2018, the foster mother and Vasko meet each month with his biological parents, who at that time work with our social workers at the CSC “St. Sofia” to improve their relationship, build up parenting skills, and eventually return their child.   However, calls and appointments suddenly stopped. Vasko’s parents stop reaching for him. They also stopped attending meetings with social workers. One day Marina found out that Vasko’s father had filed a request for a refusal to reintegrate.   She expects that soon after the mandatory deadline has passed, Vasko will enter into the full adoption register. And to find his new family, who had long expected him and would love him even more.   Until then, Marina will continue to be Vasko’s support, and her son Hrisi will also continue to help – teach him new words, play together with him, and take him to the kindergarten. Just like any real older…

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When the fairy tale becomes a reality…

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Vyara is one of the 13 children who, in the first nine months of this year, thanks to our team of Foster Care Center and our good cooperation with “Child Protection” department, have left their foster families and now live with their biological parents or are adopted.   A foreign proverb says that sometimes, just in the middle of ordinary everyday life, little love makes us live in a fairy tale…   It is the love the little princess Vyara receives from her foster mother and her new parents that shows her that the fairy tales she has listened to and the wonders in them can actually become reality.   Vyara is a beautiful 5-year-old girl, a smiling, sociable, sunny child. When she was 3, she was separated from her parents who could not take care of her and provide her with even the most basic things.   Then, with the support of the Foster Care Center of “For Our Children” foundation, she found comfort and support in the face of our foster mother, Maya Vazova, who has a lot of experience behind her – both as a foster parent and as a biological mother – she has raised two older children, a son and a daughter.   As soon as she stepped into her new home, the little princess experienced the first moments of her fairytale – she was bathed, fed, had her own toys, and did not lack care and love. And so two wonderful years passed by, in which happiness was their constant companion.   Because Vyara loves fairy tales, every day her foster mother told her stories about distant lands, magical beings and other beautiful princesses like Vyara, whose stories, despite numerous challenges, always end happily. And the beginning of the happy ending for Vyara began with the appearance of Maya in her life – a moment that predicted that good things are yet to come.   And, really, the happy ending is not late for Vyara – on a sunny autumn day, the Kolevi family arrived from a beautiful eastern Bulgarian city, with the desire to give Vyara what she has always dreamt of – her own family to protect her.   After many meetings in which they got to know each other and many fairy tales, the Kolevi family went home with the little beauty Maya, enchanted to be always together and love endlessly. And although the tale of the little Vyara has become a reality, we believe that she and her family will continue to have their magic moments of peace, love, and understanding.   Because only the power of true love can give the happy ending of every story.   In order to be able to continue supporting our foster families and developing foster care, which is the best alternative for children, left without their families, we need your support! Support us by DONATING for our project “Foster Care – security, development and happiness for the vulnerable children”, part of Raiffeisenbank’s “Choose to help” charity initiative. You can do this…

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How one little man received big support

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Regularly at school, teachers ask children: “What weighs more – 1 kilogram of cotton or 1 kilogram of iron?”.   We can ask the same question for the little Kalin. Who is really small. Does his strong smile “weigh” more than him …?   Kiki, as his mother Velina and his father Kaloyan call him, is born weighing just over one kilo. But with his first breath, the little one showed everyone at the hospital that he is ready to fight … and with a smile.   The child spent two months in the prematurity department at the University Hospital in Plovdiv and, together with the whole medical staff and the love of his family; Kiki fought to gain weight, so that he can finally go home.   After leaving the neonatology, Velina, Kaloyan, and Kiki can finally be a real family. However, for them, the struggle continues, as the baby is not yet that fluffy baby, which every two-month-old child should be.   For six months, the three of them are doing their best to get Kiki to eat normally and fill his cheeks. But the task proves to be too difficult – the little one gains only 100 grams per month, which is far from enough.   Then Velina decides to seek support from a specialist and from the doctors at the hospital she finds out about Hristo Spasov – a kinesitherapist who works at the University Hospital in Plovdiv under the project “Care at early age”, implemented by “For Our Children” foundation. In addition to active activities, Kiki begins attending hydrotherapy sessions provided under the Early Childhood Intervention Program of the Community Support Center “For Children and Parents”. Free water activities are provided by a joint project of “For Our Children” foundation and the “International Women’s Club” foundation, which was launched earlier this year. Meanwhile, Kiki’s parents are also advised by our “Early Childhood Intervention” specialist, Nely Kaneva, who designs a special individual work program for homework so that the baby can increase weight even faster.   The results are not delayed. Only after 6 water therapy sessions within 1 month, Kiki gains 750 grams. Velina is amazed and expresses her sincere gratitude for, in her words, “the miracle that has happened”.   Our team in Plovdiv continues to support the little Kiki and his parents, who feel more and more relaxed every day and believe that their child will develop fully and grow into a strong and healthy boy. With the same strong smile. During the first nine months of 2018 “For Our Children” foundation has supported 339 children under the “Care at early age” project and 102 is the total number of cases of family support from the team at our Community Support Center “For children and parents” in the city of Plovdiv. We strongly believe that active social work, psychological support, and mobilization of different specialists are the main factors that help to recover from a situation of vulnerability and cope with difficulties in family life, as in the case of the little Kiki and his parents. That is why we do not stop providing direct support to children and families with an approach based on the needs and capabilities of the people we…

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The little Anelia already has a mom, a dad, and an older brother

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Yet another child who we were taking care of at our Family type placement center “Children’s House” already has her own family. We sent the little Anelia in her new home together with her mother, father, and her brother – Andrey, who is more than happy to have a little sister.   Anelia was given to our childminders when she was really little – only two weeks old. Her mother left her at the hospital right after her birth and no one has looked for her since then. And so just until a few months, when the wonderful family of Daniela and Marin came to us and which with a lot of love and care will take care of her from now on.   For the 10 months during which we were taking care of her, Anelia became an energetic kid, with an attitude. Sometimes, because of her stubbornness, the babysitters were telling us that they felt like they were fighting with an older stubborn person, not with an infant. And the most she showed her stubbornness when they used to make a delicious but meatless soup – usually, the soup was all over Ani’s bib instead in her belly. The other children, even the older ones, also knew not to annoy her because otherwise there were going to be vociferous cries.   Thanks to the good and dedicated care of our team, Ani was developing normally and very fast learned how to turn on her belly and back and to crawl.   She is a strong and healthy child which has her own real family. A family which will give her… everything. Love, care, security, future… and a happy…

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