Jan 21, 2020

Happy New Year!

Dessy, our new administrative assistant
Dessy, our new administrative assistant

HAPPY NEW YEAR from Bulgaria. And yes, it is a bit late, but we have a saying in Bulgaria: Better late than never. 

We would like to thank you for remaining faithful to our cause in 2019 and we look forward to continue working together in 2020. Yes, even though some of you may have not been in Bulgaria, we are working together - your involvement in this project is so signifficant, that without your spiritual and financial support, we wouldn't be able to do what we are doing. We hope and we wish that in the new year your life is filled with joy and peaceful moments and you have an abundance of blessings! Speaking of peace, our 2019 could be described as a peaceful year, focusing on administration, communication, individual consultations and expanding our vision. We had 4 new businesses started, two of which with your financial help - they received start up credits. Two of our beneficiaries completely paid off their credits. We are currently working on developing a business plan for a family run sales company, trading with cookies and candies. While their numbers are OK, the family has never been challenged to think about Social Impact of their business so we are now guiding them through the process of changing mindset to be more 'community oriented', rather than earning money for personal gain only. We will keep you informed how this goes in the next months.

In 2019 we spent time analyzing our training experience and some new teaching ideas emerged, one particular in the area of Financial Management. So while we do not yet have a training

We would like to thank you for remaining faithful to our cause in 2019 and we look forward to continue working together in 2020. Yes, even though some of you may have not been in Bulgaria, we are working together - your involvement in this project is so significant, that without your spiritual and financial support, we wouldn't be able to do what we are doing. We hope and we wish that in the new year your life is filled with joy and peaceful moments and you have an abundance of blessings! Speaking of peace, our 2019 could be described as a peaceful year, focusing on administration, communication, individual consultations and expanding our vision. We had 4 new businesses started, two of which with your financial help - they received start up credits. Two of our beneficiaries completely paid off their credits. We are currently working on developing a business plan for a family run sales company, trading with cookies and candies. While their numbers are OK, the family has never been challenged to think about Social Impact of their business so we are now guiding them through the process of changing mindset to be more 'community oriented', rather than earning money for personal gain only. We will keep you informed how this goes in the next months.

In 2019 we spent time analysing our training experience and some new teaching ideas emerged, one particular in the area of Financial Management. So while we do not yet have a training curriculum on the topic we have partnered with an organization providing Financial Management training and we are starting 2020 with several action items planned. Already planned is our next Entrepreneurial training as well - starting March 20th it will be in North-East Bulgaria. A Baptist church was so kind to offer us their facility and we gladly accepted. Organizing it this time is smoother than usual because as of October last year we have a new administrative assistant working for us.

Meet Dessy - she is 23, just graduated from university, Bachelor Degree in Marketing and Media. We are so happy to have her on board that we would like to make everything possible to keep her longer. She comes from a family with 4 children, sadly their father passed away 8 years ago, but the financial difficulty did not stop her nor her sister to complete their studies.

We are excited about the new year, expecting many business adventures, new contacts and mainly - we would like to see more people growing in their economical status and helping the community around them.

We hope to spend this year together with you, we would like to hear from you and we would like to thank you once again for being with us in 2019!

Oct 21, 2019

Summer is a 'dead season'.. not necessarily

Donating a vacuum cleaner to the business
Donating a vacuum cleaner to the business

Dear friends and supporters,

The summer has just gone. It is a 'dead season' for many businesses especially those in the area of education. One of these businesses is a small family run After school Care center in the town of Plovdiv, South Bulgaria. The head of the company is Mary, she is 33 years old. Her widow mother also works in the company, she is 52. Sometimes the younger sister (23 years) helps. The company has been functioning for about 7 years.

The idea for launching the business came when the mother was looking for an after school care center for one of her younger sons and she couldn’t find what she wanted. She started dreaming about a place where children would feel loved, will learn new things, will start believing in themselves, and will achieve more. When the mother and the eldest daughter started the business none of them had a teaching experience. Subsequently, both the mother (yes, when she was close to 50) and Mary enrolled at a University and completed their degree in pedagogic.

The after school care has two main streams - activities during the school year (September 15th till June 15th) for children 2nd to 7th grade and summer activities during the school break. There anywhere between 38 and 45 children enrolled each year. As we said summer is a 'dead season' for this business as there aren't that many children and the income significantly drops. So we used this dry season to encourage the family by donating to them small equipments which they needed for the business. With your help we were able to give them a video projector which they started using to show movies with educational content to the children, documentaries and presentations. One of their main goals was to present to the children some inspirational short films about respect, relationship between people, faith, pursuit of dreams, and violence at school. They wanted the children to see in an influential way how our actions and words affect other people, and on the good side that nothing is impossible. For the purpose one of the halls was transformed as a reading and movie room. Cornerstone foundation provided carpet for the room and one of our sponsors donated a vacuum cleaner to clean the carpet. What a wonderful supply!

The activities with the children in the summer are diverse and different every day. Short lessons in school subjects, walks, games, craft activities, book reading and discussions. There are theme days and weeks, such as Week of the Universe, Week of Knights of Honor, Water Battles, Sweet Workshop, Volcanoes and others. The theme programs are tied to fun, laughter, new knowledge and creativity. Children learn to work in teams, develop their skills and fantasy, and learn to be creative. Now, with the video projector and the setting of the room (carper and a vacuum cleaner), the business is a step ahead of their competitors as not many offer movies and especially with moral and ethical content. We at Cornerstone are grateful to YOU that we have helped the only after school care center in Plovdiv that not only enriches the mental knowledge of the children, but changes their worldview, their character and personality in a positive way. These children spend more time in the after school care than with their parents and this is a unique opportunity to teach them school materials, but also ethics, empathy, moral, responsibility and faith. Just think about the many Bulgarian families that are impacted by you and through your help. I believe there will be a lot of fruit in the future as these children grow and become better members of the society, better parents, better teachers, better doctors, better people... All because of you! Thank you!

Donating a video projector
Donating a video projector
Jul 22, 2019

Disaster Relief - Massive death of bees

Almost all bees in North Bulgaria were killed
Almost all bees in North Bulgaria were killed

Those of you who read our reports probably remember that we not only provide business training to vulnerable Bulgarians, but with your help we also provide Incident Relief. Well, in May thanks to your support we were able to help some bee-keepers. Here is why. Starting as of end of April this year, Bulgarian bees suffered a massive killing by farmers spraying crops with pesticides. It started with beekeepers from North Bulgaria reporting a mass poisoning of bee families after spraying with banned substances on farmland in the area. "The treatment with forbidden pesticides continues in the last days, as a result of which the bees are poisoned," reported a beekeeper from the village of Bivolare. All bee hives have been affected and all flying bees have been killed. There are heart-breaking videos of bees dying and agricultural planes spraying. Beekeepers in the North East Bulgaria region complained of mass poisoning of bees and non-compliance by farmers with the rules for spraying crops.

As a result Beekeepers went on strike on April 5th in the city of Pleven. The main reason for the disaffection is the unregulated spraying of crops with pesticides and the lack of control. Over 5,000 bee families have been poisoned in the region. This year the problem with massive death among bees was in South Bulgaria and South-East Bulgaria as well.

THE GOVERNMENT

In all this tragic situation the Bulgarian government does nothing. Their statement is: There are regulations on how to spray with plant protection products, and those have to be followed. And they are right. So despite the legislations and norms for spraying crops, and although the problem of dying bees globally is extremely serious, there is no adequate response from the state in such cases. Since 2016 an Regulation has been implemented in Bulgaria, which regulates the measures for the protection of bees and bee colonies from poisoning and the ways of carrying out plant protection, disinfection and disinsection activities.

"As per documents everything is perfect, as many things in Bulgaria, but the question is what's going on in real life..." one of the protesters said.

Einstein has said that four years after bees disappear the whole humanity will disappear. We believe that God will protect us but at the same time we have a responsibility to keep our environment clean and balanced.

IMPACT ON OUR BENEFICIARIES

Our beneficiary Roger (not his real name) from North Bulgaria informed us about the extra care he takes to protect his bees, so they would not fly to the sprayed crops. Everyday, he feeds them with a little bit of sugar syrup, so they do not go to the poisoned areas. He is also applying some of the principles he learnt during the training, i.e. he is helping his fellow colleagues who have been affected and their bees have died.

Roger's statement is the same as the other's - the problem with beekeeping is indeed pesticides, and in particular the fact that the law is not respected. The grains are sprayed against pests and though the law is that they should not be sprayed in the light of the day, this is not the case. Roger shared with us that he has been a bee-keeper for over 20 years and he has not experienced anything like that before. Though his bees did not die (thanks God!) they had starved and developed too much hatching. From 70 bee hives he only managed to collect 50 kg. of honey which is not profitable at all.

WHAT DID YOU DO

Well, in order to help the people that we are working with, we decided that we will allow Roger to skip the monthly payment of his loan, thus his family will not have to struggle finding money for their monthly installment.

For another businessman, a widower, (on the picture) YOU helped by providing financial support to recover the remaining bee families. You donated $140 USD for him to buy extra food for whatever was left from his bees. This way, with extra food the families will recover much faster. He did not have any honey to collect in May and June, but the bee hives are now strong and collecting honey for the August harvest.

So we are glad that even on a small scale we are able to provide some disaster relief for these two fellows.

THANK YOU so much that you have brightened their months in this difficult situation!

You helped this man to recover some of his bees
You helped this man to recover some of his bees
 
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