Roma & Community Projects
Having little access to healthcare, education or employment, Bulgaria’s Roma gypsy people are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Infant mortality is high, family planning is often too expensive and abandonment is common. Unemployment stands at 80-85% and less than 1% of Roma children complete a secondary education.
- Roma living conditions are third world
- More than four out of 10 have no access to running water
- Roma conditions rank alongside sub-Saharan Africa on the Human Development Index
- With no free healthcare, many pregnant Roma women never see a doctor
World Without Borders
World Without Borders is a Roma NGO based in Bulgaria’s largest Roma Community, Stara Zagora. We work directly with them to deliver projects in Stara Zagora. WWB was founded by Roma people who grew up in Stara Zagora and broke the mould by going to university. Instead of pursuing well-paid careers, its founders decided to return to their roots and help others to break out of poverty. The enthusiastic staff team continues to live in Stara Zagora Roma Community alongside those that they help.
We are working with our Bulgarian Roma partners World Without Borders to provide Roma communities with essential healthcare, family planning and sex education. This helps prevent future abandonment and the institutionalisation of children as well as improving the lives of many Roma women. Prostitution levels in Roma communities are high and many women develop STI’s that are not checked or treated. Free health check-ups help to prevent and cure the spread of these diseases.
Our latest joint venture with WWB is a kindergarten which The Trussell Trust is funding in the Roma community of Stara Zagora. One very big problem for Roma children is access to kindergartens; something which every Bulgarian child should have by law. Many Roma parents cannot afford the associated costs of sending thier children to kindergarten and many do not think that an education is important. This feeds the cycle of deprivation and exploitation as generations of Roma children grow up without any education or qualifications. WWB's team of outreach workers spend time with local families, encouraging them to send their children to the kindergarten and helping them where appropriate. The kindergarten staff work closely with local primary schools to ensure that young children can make the change from early years education to school fully supported and with a much greater chance of making it all the way into secondary education. This project is much needed; only 11% of Roma children in Bulgaria start secondary school and only 1% then go on to graduate.
The Trussell Trust, FSCI and WWB are working together to replicate this successful model in other Roma communities in Bulgaria. Our first new kindergarten will open in Faculteta, Sofia in early 2015.
Football/House of Opportunity Holiday Project 2015
In July a team from the UK will again get together with our Bulgarian staff and volunteers to deliver a football-based project in Boychinovtsi Youth Prison. As well as football there will be personal development sessions aimed at showing the young inmates (overwhelmingly Roma) that there are alternatives to a life of crime. During the same week we will also be bringing all the young people who are currently residents in our House of Opportunity Programme together; helping them to develop friendships and working with them as they travel the path to independence from state care.
You can donate to the football project by clicking here.
See the 2013 trip blog here.