Baba Residence is an initiative which brings together urban youth and elderly in villages throughout Bulgaria. It creates the soil for a truthful exchange of knowledge and care between them using design thinking, ethnological approaches and honest, heartful communication. Baba Residence creates this connection between the generations through 1-month volunteer residencies and 2-day volunteer actions in villages. Thus, slowly and sustainably, it makes the quality of life in the villages better.
Bulgarian villages are rapidly depopulating and are losing their economical sustainability, cultural heritage and vitality. Every year at least 1 of them disappears from the map. 617 villages have less then 10 or no inhabitants (NSI). Most of their inhabitants are pensioners with a monthly pension of less than 100 $. On the other hand, many houses and public buildings have been abandoned and left collapsing, but could be renovated and filled with life and a community purpose.
The young people who participate in Baba Residence either live for a month in elderly households or in take part in 2-day volunteer actions. They renovate shared spaces, learn traditional crafts, collect stories, learn human-centered design and receive training from professional ethnologists in collecting folklore. Participants use all these new skills to come up with social-entrepreneurial ideas with the community, which revive the villages and bring human, financial and other resources.
The interaction between urban youth and elderly from the villages brings new quality of relations between generations, between urban and rural communities. A network of solidarity. The social-entrepreneurial projects draw businesses, conscious touristic and media attention to those villages. Baba Residence has now been in 36 villages and established a network of support of their local communities and the young people, who participated in the residencies and the volunteer actions.
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