In 2010 CVS-Bulgaria started a project in the Integration Centre in Ovcha Kupel that aimed to help children and youngsters in their adaptation to Bulgaria and to facilitate their inclusion in the education system. The project started with a few volunteers who assisted the Bulgarian teachers in their lessons as well as organizing their own lessons.
The project was very successful, so in 2011 CVS-Bulgaria joined forces with Caritas Sofia to continue working with children and adolescents in the integration center. Since then, over 300 volunteers have participated in the project, with each volunteer dedicating at least two hours per week over a minimum period of 4 months, to help with Bulgarian lessons for children, English lessons for adults and occasional workshops and special events.
The project continues to expand. Volunteers now provide not only Bulgarian and English lessons, but also art workshops, music activities, sport and games sessions, IT lessons and even cookery workshops on a weekly basis. We now have activities in all three refugee camps in Sofia - Ovcha Kupel, Voenna Rampa and Vrazhdebna.
Asylum seekers and refugees benefit from the project by having increased interaction with Bulgarian people , opportunities to improve their language skills, and the option to participate in a wide variety of activities while they are staying in the centres.
Volunteers have the opportunity to hear at first-hand the experiences of refugees coming to Bulgaria and to have an active role in their adaptation to the education system and their social integration in Bulgaria. They gain experience of intercultural communication, knowledge of different cultures, experience of working with people of all ages, and with leading and participating in workshops.
Most importantly, everyone involved in the project has a lot of fun!