Dear friends, our team has rarely been so excited!
We had a very intensive month. We organized a second “Introduction to coaching” training where a second group of devoted volunteers was taught how to be of better help to the unprivileged youth. We started from the very basics of Couching and went through some techniques that are used - such as typical questions for goal setting, value searching, etc. Then we had some practical exercises and discovered what our values are. There was also a practical Q&A session.
We also celebrated Easter and enjoyed perfect weather.
Finally, in April we met Kelly Zug – a wonderful GlobalGiving representative whom we told all about the project we have been managing thanks to you. She taught us how to use the platform more effectively and, most importantly, how to receive more money, so that we, together with you, can keep helping youth but without “damaging” your budget. The secret word is BONUS DAY! :) That would be on May 13th. Global Giving will be adding a percentage to every donation. Feel free to donate on that day so we will be able to keep making more trainings and special moments like this one possible!
It’s been a while since our last report but not because we haven’t a lot to tell. The opposite – we have been quite busy. Now, the Easter holidays are just knocking on the door and we are in a hurry to tell all that happened and all that we have been preparing to happen in the next few weeks. Then, we can start colouring eggs and prepare for the holidays.
Firstly, our big success for the last period was the supporting training we organized for our volunteers. We held an Introduction into Coaching session and it was a huge success among them. So huge that we are now planning a second session to build on the basis they already have. The purpose of these trainings is to help our devoted volunteers develop skills that would make them more effective and better trained into helping youngsters and meeting their specific needs. We see that this really works towards achieving the goal as we now have 22 couples of mentors and mentees that meet on a regular basis.
We also have exiting news for you - we already have a new website. It is muchmore user-friendly and nicer: http://stepforbulgaria.org/?lang=en. We would be happy if you find some time to take a look and see how our projects are going with your help!
Finally, we have already set a high goal for the upcoming month. The first weekend of April will be dedicated to the second Coaching training I mentioned above. We have already started preparing the logistics and see that our volunteers are interested into the topic and the choice made has been fair enough. The interest in the program is also quickly growing and we already have a new group of people who desire to become volunteers of Step for Bulgaria. We have set in our agenda a weekend in April for a training for them. That will be an opening training where they will be told more about the Mentoring program, the specific needs of the young people and how to be of best help to them. For the purpose we have included in the program of the training hands-on exercises and real cases. We are doing our best to help the volunteers receive all the support necessary both before they have started and after they have joined the Foundation.
That’s all for now. We wish you happy Easter! Thank you for making all this possible and bringing our youngsters smiles for the Holiday!
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!
The Step for Bulgaria team
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.
Today I want to tell you the story of one young boy – mentee in our Mentoring programme. I’ll call him Tony.
Tony is 24 years old and he grew up in institutions. He was moved more than five times from one institution to another in different towns in the country. Currently he is a resident in an observed housing facility near Sofia. Tony has some learning difficulties and despite his age he did not manage to finish secondary school. He is an extremely trusty person with a strong sense of justice and people around him often take advantage of him.
When he joined our Programme in March 2014 his contract in the facility was coming to its end. He worked in a cleaning company with many night shifts and his boss often made him take additional shifts – sometimes he worked 24 hours a day. The amount of his salary was not quite clear and not very regularly paid. He owed a big amount of money to one of the mobile network operators.
Tony started working with his Mentor at least once per week. At the beginning Tony was sometimes late for the meetings and twice he even forgot to attend. This became another issue they had to work on. With the support of his mentor Tony managed to list the priority areas in his life. He focused on finding a new job – without night shifts and with regular payment. During the discussions with his Mentor, Tony realized that it is very important to finish secondary school which will help him get even better jobs in the future. Tony also concluded for himself that he has to prepare for the independent living (he’ll have to leave the facility soon) and start saving money. So he and his Mentor started to work for achieving these goals.
Three months later Tony has a new job – he works 5 days per week and only during the day. His new boss is already very pleased with his work as Tony is quite diligent. His debts are paid and he managed to open a savings bank account and already put some money there. He has a big progress with his punctuality and on the last meeting he even arrived a few minutes earlier.
Currently Tony and his Mentor are looking for a suitable form of education so he can finish school. They plan to start regular lessons on maths next week and study together for the exams.
Tony is one of the boys who will have better future due to your support. Thank you for making this possible! Your donations can change the lives of 15 more youngsters in our Mentoring programme – you make this possible!
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.