Refugee Project- CVS Bulgaria

Each week dozens of volunteers find their ways to the refugee centres of Sofia to support people on the move by holding educational and recreational lessons for children and adults. These volunteers are part of the so-called Refugee Project, an initiative coordinated by CVS?Bulgaria and Caritas Sofia. 

Ebru Art Workshop, Refugee Project, CVS Bulgaria, Sofia (2016), photo: Katerina Stoyanova

In teams of three to four volunteers they are responsible for preparing and leading at least one session per week. They teach languages like Bulgarian and English, organise sport activities and art workshops, hold science classes for children, etc. By doing this, the Refugee Project and its volunteers try to make a small difference in the lives of people who are currently in a situation of uncertainty and enforced inactivity. Furthermore the Refugee Project opens the chance to bring people of different cultural backgrounds together, to stimulate intercultural exchange and understanding and after all to build new friendships.

Refugee Project, CVS Bulgaria, Sofia (2016),  Photo: Karin Fliesser

Besides providing lessons and workshops inside the reception centres, a second main objective of the Refugee Project is to organise weekly trips and excursions with the help of volunteers and to spend some nice hours with refugee children, teenagers and adults outside the camps. While the everyday life in the refugee centres can be joyless and tough, the organised outdoor activities are a possibility to take a short break from crowded rooms, broken facilities, bad smells and unappetising food and to see a different, friendlier side of Bulgaria. In the best case people’s problems and concerns become for a while secondary and positive experiences predominate. And children can just be children.

Climbing, Refugee Project, CVS Bulgaria, Sofia (2016), Photo: Jill Morrison Donoho

These fun trips need some planning and preparation – a team consisting of project coordinators and volunteers makes sure that all paperwork is done, nice destinations are picked, food and drinks are secured and of course safety measures are taken. The selection of the excursion destinations strongly depends on the wishes of the people living in the camps and also on the time of the year. During the summer months many trips take place in the nature and involve the groups in nice outdoor activities. This summer the children were happy to go to the swimming pool, try rope climbing or play football. A group of families and adults, together with a couple of volunteers, had fun while picnicking on the waterfront of a lake. And a highlight for teenagers was the cricket training with a professional Pakistani coach.

Swimming Pool, Refugee Project, CVS Bulgaria, Sofia (2016), Johannes Kloeppel

And yet the summer for some people might be already over, our excursion committee has planned a very busy September, hoping for the sun to smile at all of us longer!

Article written by Karin Fliesser, EVS volunteer of CVS-Bulgaria 


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