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Some of you know that I went to volunteer at an orphanage in rural
Bulgaria this past spring, and I've continued working with some of the
partner organizations to help support the children that I met. Bulgaria
is a young democracy, and the economy there was already fragile and
unbelievably corrupt before the economic downturn. Now the orphanages
that we work with have been told their budgets have been almost
completely cut, and the situation has gone from bad to worse. Now it's
not toys, books and computer equipment that they need- now it's school
supplies, underwear, socks and shoes.
I've been scheming with Charlotte of ZOV-UK and Joanna and Chloe of the Balvan Projects (spin offs of OXAB that work together to help facilitate projects and meet discreet needs of the orphanages in Bulgaria). In the past, these amazing women have managed to create a computer room for the kids and provide ongoing IT training to the older teenagers (which not only maintains the computers but provides them with job skills; there's a picture of the computer room that they set up attached), started a mentoring project with university students- to encourage the children to think beyond their current lives, offered dance classes and taken them on summer trips to the beach.
We're sending school supplies.
Charlotte is fundraising for basic needs for 3 orphanages, and I told her I'd try to rally forces to help with school supplies for one of them, at least.
And we're bypassing the corruption to bring what they need to them in person, hand carried by our volunteers.
Here's the plan:
Whatever money can be raised immediately will go to Charlotte (I've promised her at least £200, if it has to come out of my own pocket- that's enough for 100 kids for the fall for basic supplies, we think; there are somewhere between 60-120 kids at Penyo Maria orphanage this fall term, and about the same at the others).
She'll buy the supplies in Sofia (where money will go further, but there's still lots of choice) in mid-Sep and hand them to the Director at the orphanage in person.
Joanna & Chloe are going again in December and we'll do it again for spring supplies.
Sending school supplies will not only guarantee that the kids get what they need for school, but will take much pressure off the orphanage budget so that Director Bankova can buy other stuff, like underwear and socks. Donations can be sent to ZOV, which is a registered charity, and it can now be done ONLINE! Hooray!
So, if you know family or friends who want to help, or a group that wants to help out- please send them to http://www.justgiving.com/zovuk/Donate/.
I know these kids. I took the pictures that are attached.
Every kid deserves to have basic supplies that they need to help them learn. There's so much need in the world, but a little bit will go a very long way for this project. Charlotte, Joanna, Chloe and I are all Oxford grads that have worked together to help these orphanages before, and they really need our help now.
Please email if you want to see more pictures of my trip, or find out more.
And please help us buy school supplies! Even $1 helps a lot.