ZOV won the Happy Childhood award for a third year running because of our work during lockdown and the success of the online mentoring programme. The award ceremony was postponed because of COVID, but ZOV was informed by the Child Protection Agency that this was one of the best initiatives of 2020.
ZOV has been providing Christmas parties and presents to Children in Care for over ten years. This year with the help of CORDET, Dimi, and George Velikov, ZOV provided 165 children in 12 centres with Christmas presents and a party. 10 of the centres were homes for Children Deprived of Parental Care. We made sure each child got an individual present, a visit from Father Christmas and a party. We also raised enough to supply the Crisis Centre for Girls with IT equipment so they can join in our online mentoring and educational club, and continue to support the girls with their education. The children got to perform dances and songs they had learnt in our children’s club. They were wonderful events, with many of the student mentors and staff turning up to share in the celebrations. A big thank you to all!!!
As Bulgaria entered another lockdown in November 2020 ZOV staff have been given special permission to continue working in the center’s delivering key services and support to the staff and children and young people we work with. As the Mentoring and Outreach project is delivered by volunteers it is currently online
This year 11 young people were provided with paid work experience. For the first time children with special needs were included in the programme This year because of COVID we were limited to the number of placements we could organise outside the homes. Placements included working as cleaners and gardeners in the homes and caring for other children. Some of the young people worked in Cafes, a hairdressers and in McDonalds.
ZOV organised for 167 children to have a summer holiday this year. They played games, went walking, learnt to cook, made art and crafts, put on theatre performances and visited local places of interest. ZOV also sent qualified specialists to work with the children and arranged all the activities. Staff, teachers and children are very grateful for the opportunity to go away for a holiday especially after 4 months of being locked down.
The amazing Dessislava Stefanova is hosting Midsummer Bulgarian Songs to help raise money for ZOV on Sunday 21st June 2020, 3pm UK time (4pm CEST).
Please join Dessi and ZOV for a fundraising online singing workshop, on Sunday 21st June. Make a donation at the following page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MidsummerBulgarianSongs and if you want to attend the workshop please send us your email with your contact details and you will receive your ZOOM registration details. Email: sunshineZOV@gmail.com.
Just a quick update on our activities regarding supporting the homes and children we work with in Bulgaria during the Covid 19 pandemic .
- 300 masks, disinfectant and soap have been supplied to the homes we work with, and we are in regular contact to make sure the homes have everything they need.
- The mentoring program continues – but without face to face contact: we have arranged for children and volunteers to keep in contact via letters in order to retain their emotional connection and this important source of support
- 300 Activity packs for children from the UK translated and sent to homes we work with
- Emergency fund for food, supply’s and individual help set up
- Many of the activities we run are being run by staff in the homes, some of which have worked with us previously.
Before Lock Down in Bulgaria
In February/March time over 200 children across all the centres we work with were able to take part in a Spring Bazaar making and selling gifts. Gifts included Martenitsi, red and white bracelets for Baba Marta (spring festival) and paintings on stones and plant pots and figures made from dough. It was a great success!!!
In the colder months the children have been learning to ice skate as part of our children’s club programme. They have also enjoyed the indoor children’s gym ZOV created to be able to undertake physical exercise when its too cold to go out, playing basketball and fitness games.
In the centres for children with special needs and deprived of parental care, we have been calendars for 2020 and spring cards for each of the staff members to celebrate Women’s Day. They have also been participating in speech and language classes : activities such as “complete the sentence” game help the children with their vocabulary and sentence building.