Project Partner: Oxford Aid to the Balkans (OXAB)
The project in Bulgaria is in conjunction with the charity Oxford Aid to the Balkans, which is a registered charity both in the UK and in Bulgaria. Volunteers from the University of Birmingham and Lancaster University volunteer in community-based family centres, including those for for disabled children, in the Veliko-Turnovo region as care and activity assistants. This project is one of InterVol’s longest standing projects and has been running successfully since 2004.
As this project works in a range of different family centres the age and abilities of the children vary. While with some placements, you might be organising sports and other outdoor activities, or, for example art or drama, in others the children will be less able and less active, and so your work would be restricted to more basic interactions, and to supporting the staff with work around the centre. The project works during the summer holidays in Bulgaria where the centres are under more strain and need support.
A key element of this project is that funds raised, support OXAB Bulgaria’s innovative year-round student mentoring project. This uses Bulgarian university students as mentors to ensure long-term impact for the graduates of the centres that we volunteer in to break the cycle of poverty. InterVol supports the ongoing process of deinstitutionalisation in Bulgaria through supporting community-based care in smaller family centres that are replacing large orphanages as the Bulgarian government phases those out by 2025. The local project coordinator, Katia Zlatkova, is a member of the regional committee for deinstitutionalisation and an academic in the fields of at-risk youth, education and social work. All volunteers will be DBS checked and will receive child protection training in the United Kingdom and orientation in Bulgaria.
Skills required: Experience of supporting and running activities for children, strong communication skills.
Length: 2-4 weeks
NGO: OXAB Bulgaria (Oxford Aid to the Balkans): http://oxab.yolasite.com/
Number of volunteers: Groups of 4 volunteers.