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Mar 29, 2018

Going Away and Coming Back

Zhivko and his mentor
Zhivko and his mentor

Dear supporter,

Our #StepforBulgaria team is excited to share with you the latest news with our ongoing mission to provide a Mentoring Program for Underprivileged Youth!

 

A happened since you last heard from us. In any given month of the year, our youths need help with trying to be successful at work or at school, having to move out of foster care and into private housing, looking for a job with no cushioned alternative, and many others. The past months have been full of all of these and then some. Today, we've chosen to tell you the story of one of our program's proud achievers - Zhivko.

 

Zhivko grew up without parents in foster care institutions outside of Sofia until his teenage years, when he transitioned to family-type housing on the outskirts of Sofia. Having known him since then, our organization has made Zhivko a key member of our mentoring program. He is among the mentees whom we've worked with for the longest, and he's been actively involved in many of the initiatives Step for Bulgaria has been organizing outside of the Mentoring program (for more information, check out our Teaching Life Skills to Children without Parents and our Fast-Track Career Development for At-Risk Youths projects).

As the story goes, Zhivko's mentor, Misho, helped him overcome many of the abovementioned obstacles that he's had to deal with. He had to deal with moving out and finding new housing in both 2016 and 2017, and last year he also worked hard to finish high school and to secure his first job. Relentlessly, with Misho's help, he has succeeded each time, step by step.

In an effort to help him save up money for university, Misho arranged to help Zhivko find a job with his friend working consdtruction in the UK in the fall of 2017. In the photos below, you can see him at the "deprtures" termnal at Sofia Airport, on his way to new dreams and aspirations. He began work practically as soon as he landed.

A couple of months passed and, although Zhivko enjoyed getting to know a new country and being able to afford a new guitar, he decided he missed home too much and he wanted to come back. Sure enough, in early December he bought a return ticket with his own savings and moved in with his girlfriend's family in a house on the outskirts of Sofia.

Despite the change in plans, it seems that Misho's mentoring has left Zhivko well-prepared for this move. As soon as he landed he had arranged for a job interview and took up work at a parcel delivery firm. To get to work from the outskirts of Sofia with no easy transport, he asked for our help in finding a car. Within two weeks, a couple of mentors were able to find him a good deal and, knowing him as a stand-up kid, signed a no-interest loan with him to purchase it using the funds they had pooled together. The latter was taken this March, with Zhivko on the way to work using this new car. 

If all is well as it is now, it seems like Zhivko will be needing our help less and less (should we figure out a mentoring graduation ceremony?) in the future. We will make sure to keep in touch with him though, and follow up on the other developments in our Mentoring program. Who knows, maybe Zhivko might like to become a mentor one day himself. So do be excited for our next reports!

Finally, none of the above would have been possible with your support. If you like what we do, please consider donating again to our Mentoring program or to our new Give lasting 1:1 career advice to 50 at-risk teens project.

Thanks once more for allowing us to do what we do.

Best regards,

Dancho and the Step for Bulgaria team 

Boarding to the UK
Boarding to the UK
Finding work in Bulgaria
Finding work in Bulgaria
Nov 13, 2017

Career workshops in 4 secondary schools in October!

Career workshop in 40 SU Louis Pasteur
Career workshop in 40 SU Louis Pasteur

Dear all,

 

There are many things that we would like to share with you! In October, we conducted four career workshops in 4 different schools - three in Sofia and one in the town of Kostinbrod. It is the first time that the Step for Bulgaria Foundation enters into partnerships with schools with the aim to organize and conduct such workshops. What we hope to accomplish is to establish long-lasting ties with high schools visited by a higher number of disadvantaged youths. Our career workshops are the first step in our efforts to identify and start working with students from these schools who would benefit from the services, trainings, workshops, etc. that we provide.

 

The purpose of our workshops was to meet young people aged between 13 and 18 years with successful professionals from various fields. During the workshops they told the students how they had chosen their career path and what motivates them in their daily work. After their presentations the students had the opportunity to meet them in person and to ask them questions related to their future academic and career development. The students took part in various educational and recreational games, jointly prepared by the volunteers and the Foundation’s team. The various areas, presented by the volunteers, were  information technology, entrepreneurship, law, economics, journalism, education and educational technologies, architecture, engineering, fashion industry, logistics etc. As a result of the career motivation workshops, we were able to identify underprivileged youths among the students and to make them familiar with our mission and activities. Following our last career workshop, a half-orphan senior will begin working for an IT company after having a conversation with one of our volunteers working in the same company. During the workshops, several more students from the four schools exchanged contacts with professionals who promised to give them further career guidance.

 

We also met wonderful people, willing to share their knowledge, experience and point of view with the youths. One of our volunteers - Vellina - a kind and chatty young woman who took part in two of our career workshops, really got the attention of the students by telling them that back in her school years she had been expelled four times from four different schools because of her bad discipline and that in the end she graduated with honors. Now, she is the head of a Sunday school and the founder of the initiative “Rescue an icon”, helping sick children by restoring and selling icons. Another one of our volunteers - Pavel, who runs a design agency - shared with the students how his motivation to follow his own career path and do the things he is passionate about gave him the chance to travel the world and work with different artists.

 

It was a pleasure for us to organize the career workshops: we learned a lot in the process and met many interesting people willing to cooperate with us and, most importantly, we reached children and young people whom we can help!  We are very grateful for the brilliant work of our volunteers, as well as to the administration of the four schools. We will be glad to keep you informed about the development of our future workshops and other related initiatives and activities. The next workshop format, that we are planning to conduct in these schools, will be for career orientation, which is one step further.

 

We would like to thank you, our great supporters for your contribution to our cause!

 

Best regards,

 

The Step for Bulgaria Foundation

Career workshop in SU "Doctor Peter Beron"
Career workshop in SU "Doctor Peter Beron"
Career workshop in 97 SU "Miladinovi brothers"
Career workshop in 97 SU "Miladinovi brothers"
Career workshop in 90 SU "Jose de San Martin"
Career workshop in 90 SU "Jose de San Martin"
Nov 13, 2017

Three new mentoring pairs!

Dobrina and Svetoslava walking in the park
Dobrina and Svetoslava walking in the park

Dear all,

 

We would like to share with you some news related to our mentoring program! Recently, we managed to form three new mentoring pairs (between mentors and youths). The first youth, that we connected with a mentor is the 23-year-old Andrey. Until recently, he was unemployed and was looking for a job. Actually, it was harder than usual for him to find a job, because he had lost some of the documents that he needed in order to get started. With the help of his new mentor Plamena, he managed to issue the necessary documents and started working in a warehouse. Andrey has interest in the field of journalism and, apart from Plamena, we also linked him with another volunteer who works as a television broadcaster. Now he would receive some professional guidance and advice.

 

Svetoslava is another youth with whom we have been working for several months. She is 17 years old and is deprived of parental care. She is in a strained relationship with her grandmother with whom she lived until recently. At the moment, Svetoslava lives alone, pays a rent and works in a supermarket. Recently, the Foundation’s team and our mentor, Dobrina, we have joined forces to persuade Svetoslava to continue going to school and return to live with her grandmother. Unfortunately, she did not agree to continue her education for the moment, but preferred to stay on her own. We continue to work on Svetoslava's case and hope that she will return to school next year, as she assured us in the course of our last conversation.

 

Yordan is the third youth that we would like to tell you about. He is a 16 years old school student who loves to draw and is very talented! Yordan is the eldest of three children in his family and is in a difficult family environment because of his father’s illness, who is suffering from multiple sclerosis. We met Yordan with a mentor named Alexander who works as an architect.  Alexander linked him to a friend of his who will give him free lessons in some sort of drawing software. We are so happy for Yordan and that he receives this wonderful opportunity to further develop his talent!

 

We will continue supporting underprivileged youths in their daily needs. We will also continue our search for new youths in need of our assistance, as well as with the forming of new mentoring pairs. Thank you so much for your support! We will continue to inform you of our progress!

 

Best regards,

 

The Step for Bulgaria Foundation

 
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