Step for Bulgaria Foundation

Step for Bulgaria is a non-profit organization which aims to support the development of Bulgaria's socially and economically disadvantaged youth, with a focus on children living without parental care. We do this by engaging young people in alternative education and professional orientation activities to develop their life knowledge, practical life and career skills, and personal strengths.
Dec 29, 2014

Mentoring Program

Youths-volunteers meeting
Youths-volunteers meeting

Dear Friends,

The New Year is knocking on our door and we are waiting eagerly for it to come as we have planned many new activities for our youngsters and volunteers in the Mentoring program. But first let me tell you what happened till now.

During the year we managed to include 31 youths in the Mentoring Program and currently 29 are working individually with their mentors. Each pair made their own schedule for the meetings and the topics they worked on. We believe that this approach is the best way to respond to the personal needs of each youngster and our experience during the year proved it. Each mentor supports the mentee in facing everyday challenges as well as in planning the future according to the level of personal development and abilities of the youths.

Besides the individual work with youngster we also planned and organized group meetings. These were joint events (trainings) for youngsters and volunteers. In the last quarter of the year the training was dedicated to the subject “Effective Communication”. Two of our volunteers took the initiative to develop the program and lead the sessions. The youngsters learned basic rules and principles of effective communication through different interactive games and group-work. And the best thing was that the youngsters and the volunteers had the opportunity to get to know each other and thus new friendships were made. Both youngsters and volunteers were very pleased and happy with the training and shared with us that they want to have more often such meetings/trainings. So, during the next year, we plan to organize regularly joint events.

During the second half of the year we also organized an initial training for the third group of 13 new volunteers who joined the program. At the moment we have 54 volunteers in total willing and ready to support underprivileged youths. We plan an initial training for the fourth group in January 2015.

In December we celebrated the end of a successful year with a Christmas Party. At the party we invited all youths and volunteers in the program – there were lots of fun and dances. We prepared a quiz with specially selected questions (some of them educative, others just for fun) and small presents for all.

At the end we want to express our gratitude to all of you who supported us during the year. Your donations made it possible to start and develop this Mentoring Program and in this way to be able to provide individual support and group-trainings for our youths as well as to develop a strong network of volunteers. You believed in our cause and we trust this partnership as we saw the smiles on the faces of the underprivileged youths that you brought.

Out team wishes you a Happy New Year and very successful and full of joy 2015! We are looking forward to the next year full of plans and ready to face challenges and we hope you’ll stay with us and continue making this possible with your donations.

Together we can make a difference!

 

Sincerely yours,

The Step for Bulgaria team

Christmas Party
Christmas Party
Nov 28, 2014

Teaching Life-skills through Film Art - Updates

Dear Friends,

Time flies by so quickly and it’s been three months since our last report, so I’m in a hurry to share with you the updates on our project.

In May I told you about our new initiative with children and youths living in care in Gabrovo, called “Movie Perspective”. I told you about the projection of specially selected movies and the discussions and the “acting”, but you still don not know about the next step and challenge that children and youths faced.

It was planned that after the 4-th projection the participants will be presented the opportunity to write their own scenario and shoot a short film such as real actors. Do you want to know what happened? – The children and youths were overwhelmed by the idea! And they realized this project really successfully.

Supported by our volunteer-director, the group wrote a scenario. They were given the opportunity to choose some of the Bulgarian famous actors (friends and colleagues to our volunteer) whom to be invited to take part in the movie. Well, this was really a hard task – the group members had different preferences and reaching a consensus at a certain point seemed like being impossible. There were long discussions and argumentations. Finally decision was made and the process continued.

After having the scenario, roles had to be allocated. There were several rehearsals and when the group felt sure about their performance, the day of shooting the movie was selected. A whole professional team was engaged in this – camera man, stage-manager, make-up artist, sound director (all of them doing it pro-bono) and of course the most important were the actors – our children and youths.

They were all very happy and pleased by themselves. And it was not without reason. Last month was the “premiere” of the movie and children and youths could see the product of their efforts and they loved the movie!

We, as professionals, love the “hidden” product of this activity which for us is priceless – and these are the skills that our children and youths managed to acquire while having fun. During the process there were many situations that they had to present ideas (thoughts) and to give argumentation. Constantly they had to communicate with others and to work as a team. Each of them had certain responsibilities that had to be carried out. We also notices a change in the microclimate of the group – up to this moment there were two main sub-groups: the children form the Institution and the youths from the Protected House (two types of social services). The two groups did not mix and often straining at a gnat. After shooting the movie together, we noticed starting friendships between representatives of the different groups and changed attitudes.

We strongly believe that this experience will be very helpful for the children and youths when they leave care and start living independent life. The abilities to communicate effectively with different people, to take responsibilities and to be a team-work player are among the main life-skills.

Thank you for making this possible by supporting our project and cause!

Please do not hesitate to tell your friends and colleagues about what we do and why you chose to make a donation. We believe that children and youths living in care deserve a better chance and only your support can help us provide it!

 

Sincerely yours,

Step for Bulgaria team

Sep 29, 2014

Mentoring Program Updates

Dear Friends,

I’m happy to share with you that during the last three months our family has grown – we have 10 more volunteers who passed successfully the process of selection and their initial training.

I want to tell you a little bit more about the training. The training has four main topics – volunteering, specifics of the children and youths living in care, effective communication and mentoring. The duration of the training is two days and it is an obligatory step for all volunteers before starting work with mentees.

First we talk about volunteering – specifics, rights and obligations of the volunteers. It is really important all of us to have the same understanding about voluntary work, especially when it concerns interactions with underprivileged youth.

The second important topic in the training is connected with the specifics of the children and youth who live in institutions. Very often youths have some deficitsin their intellectual, emotional and social development. It is very important for the volunteers to be prepared and not to have unrealistic expectations. It is also true that sometimes the volunteers anticipate worse situation than the reality which also could lead to frustration when meeting the youth. Our experience with the first group of volunteers showed us that during the training we should pay attention also to the differences in the types of social services in Bulgaria.

The third topic is extremely important as the main “instrument” for the volunteers in their work with youths is their communication skills. During these sessions we discuss the main principles of effective communication (active listening, giving feedback, summarizing, etc). We also pay attention to non-verbal communication and its significance in the process of building relationships and trust in our interlocutor.

During the last session we talk about Mentoring – what it means to be a Mentor, how to become a good Mentor. We provide some practical tips and the volunteers can test themselves by role playing on cases from the practice.

Our new group of ten volunteers who successfully passed the training are looking forward to meet their mentees and start working together. They are all very motivated and ready to bring change to youths’ lives.

You made this possible - thank you for all your support! Look forward to our next report for more information on how youths are working with their Mentors.

  

Sincerely yours,

The Step for Bulgaria team

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