Our work first began in Bulgaria and has now grown to encompass the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Through our sister organisation, the Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion (FSCI), we are helping to prevent children being abandoned and young people being forced into crime, prostitution and human trafficking.
Why Eastern Europe?
- Bulgaria, where The Trussell Trust began, is the poorest country in the EU and the countries bordering it are struggling with the same issues
- Every month over 100 children are abandoned in Bulgaria alone
- Tens of thousands of girls and women are trafficked from Eastern Europe every year
- 84% of Bulgaria’s 700,000+ Roma people live below the poverty line – it’s not much different in other Balkan states. Roma people are the most marginalised group in Europe and have little opportunity to break out of poverty.
“I don’t want to end up like my sister…”
At just 16 years old, Maria’s sister is a prostitute, so are several of her friends and family. For many of Bulgaria’s Roma women this is not a choice, it is a way to survive. Conditions in Bulgaria’s Roma communities are precarious; there is little access to healthcare, education or employment. Every day, children like Maria are abandoned to orphanages because their parents cannot afford to keep them.
How do we help?
FSCI works with local communities, churches and NGOs to run practical, sustainable projects, making sure that people are treated as individuals not numbers and working to tackle problems at the root. FSCI projects include:
A two-year residential training programme, to prevent young people leaving state care from being trafficked, and drawn into a life of crime and homelessness.
A kindergarten programme tailored specifically for Roma communities; increasing access to education for marginalised children.
Practical projects aimed at teaching vulnerable young people transferrable skills that they can use to help them find, get and keep jobs; including the award-winning HOPe Soap project.
The Trussell Trust also still runs some Bulgaria-specific projects including:
Taking thousands of Christmas presents from the UK to Bulgaria and distributing them in orphanages, Roma communities, refuges and poor rural schools, among others.
Working with Lipnitsa Orphanage/School to provide beach holidays for the most vulnerable children in its care.
To find out more about our overseas projects, please contact Richard Parsons.