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.
The Step for Bulgaria team
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!
Our Mentoring Program had a stunning start!
Let me give you a brief introduction of how it started. After we published the announcement for recruitment of volunteers, till November 2013 we received 80 requests of people who want to work with disadvantaged children and youths and help them acquire knowledge and skills for their independent living. We started with a group of 20 who successfully passed a 3-step process of selection. In December 2013 the pilot group of volunteers passed their initial training for becoming Mentors.
From the beginning of 2014 the matching process started. We made an individual assessment of the necessities of each youngster and defined the field in which support is needed. On this basis we chose the most suitable Mentor for this particular youth.
Currently we have 16 youth-mentor couples working together. They meet at least twice per month and work on specific topic. The first couple of meetings were dedicated to getting know each-other and starting to build mutual trust. Step by step youths supported by the Mentors, started to work towards solving problems in finding job, continuing their education, improving their communication skills, etc.
On 15th March we organized the first joint meeting with the participation of both youngsters and volunteers. This joint meeting gave an opportunity for the participants to get known each other better and also to share their dreams and plans for the future. This was a good base for the upcoming individual work.
Thank you for being the first who supported our Mentoring Program. None of this would be possible without your contribution!
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