by Monica Brownwood, Bulgaria 2018 volunteer
As a volunteer on the Bulgaria Intervol project in the summer of 2018, I can say that a highlight was the opportunity to visit the Crisis Centre for Girls one morning. Given that my fellow volunteers and I were all female, we were fortunate to be allowed access to this centre that cares for young women who have either been victims of trafficking or domestic violence. This visit strengthened my support for the battle against women’s inequality, as many of these young girls were vulnerable in the hands of men.
Overall, there were currently six girls living at the centre; girls usually stay between six to twelve months depending on their situation. Everything that the girls could possibly need was at this centre. We glanced in some of their bedrooms as we were given a tour. Their rooms were pristine, yet cosy. Further, they had a state-of-the-art kitchen where they could cook fresh produce sourced from their very own fruit and vegetable garden. Hopefully, the girls felt very secure and content in this place, away from the harm that they had experienced beforehand.
Unlike the other family centres that we visited, this community was particularly memorable as the girls were extremely friendly and welcoming. They greeted us as though we had been friends for decades. I got the sense that they were very appreciative of our presence, and effort to come all the way from the UK just to spend a few hours with them.
With the limited time that we had there, we enjoyed doing crafts. We created handmade post-it-note flowers with the use of bright colours and diamantes. There was a variety of nail-varnish which we happily painted on the nails of the girls who wanted it. We also made frisbees out of paper plates and played catch. Not to mention, I participated in a Youtube Zumba session with the girls which was so amusing, both for myself and the girls, especially since they were watching me dance too!
Before long, it was time to leave, though I really didn’t want to. I could have spent a week interacting with these girls and getting to know them more. It was strange because, on the one hand, these were girls who were the same age as me, with similar interests and personalities. Yet their lives were so different to mine. Nevertheless, what they had been through did not affect the beautiful people they were. This day taught me that no matter how unpleasant life gets, there is always time for love and laughter.
To find out more about volunteering with vulnerable children and young people in Bulgaria with InterVol, visit the Bulgaria project page here.