Dear child sponsor,
First of all, I would like to express our deep gratitude for your valuable support during these difficult times of world financial crisis. Thank you for staying with us! Christmas is coming close and it is time to report our activities to you as our partner in the joint mission - upbringing needy children in SOS Children’s Village Dren.
At the end of 2009, presently sixty-four children at the age between two and fourteen years live in the village. Sixteen of them are under eight years of age and forty-nine are above eight years of age. At the beginning of the school year – September – six children moved from the SOS children’s village to the SOS youth facilities in Sofia capital to continue their education in vocational schools. Two girls, after completing seventh grade, successfully took the difficult entrance exams and were admitted to study in good vocational schools; the other four children will attend after eight grade.
The children, who study in other towns different from Dren village and Sofia capital, also develop well and now they are already one grade older. Especially successful is the girl, who studies at the National School of Folklore Arts with specialty ‘Folklore Singing’ – she is already a folklore singer in the school choir and has solo performances. Successfully continue their education the two children, who study in sports schools in the towns of Pernik and Kjustendil and the boy in the school for mountain guides and rescuers in the town of Chrni Osm. Their good example is contagious also for other children from SOS Children’s Village Dren, who are willing to study in the same schools and to live on a larger scale more independently.
At the moment thirteen boys and twenty girls live in our SOS Youth Facilities and receive their education in Sofia capital. In the Semi-Independent Leaving Program seven girls and eight boys are starting to experience their life as grown-up adults. One of the girls in the Semi-Independent Leaving Program has a baby, and two others are expected to deliver very soon. This year we can proudly announce that we have one student, who started his high degree education at the University of National and World Economics, which is the best Bulgarian economical university.
During the passed year in SOS Children’s Village Dren we admitted six boys and two girls and in that way we gave them a good chance to live and develop in the best care in Bulgaria. They have all already adapted successfully in the SOS families and to the new environment in the village. The children are accommodated according to the Child Protection Law and are strictly from the Region with administrative center Pernik town, in which Dren is situated in as well and also is 40 km away from the capital of Bulgaria - Sofia. This is important, because we refrain from accommodating children from other regions of the country, so that the children’s accommodation is successful in terms of giving a better chance to work jointly also with their families of origin. The social worker is doing her best towards supporting the children and their families of origin, so that the bond between them remains unbroken and where possible to improve it, even strengthen it. According to the regulations of the Bulgarian legislation some of the children living in the village are entered also in the national and international adoption registries as the Bulgarian government recons that it is an important measure for finding home and family for each child.
As village director, I work jointly with my supporting team of a social worker, a psychologue and two pedagogues; we actively participate also in the organization’s advocacy activities mainly related to the dynamically changing Bulgarian legislation in the field of out-of-home childcare. In 2009 we were especially active in forums related to the changes in the Family Code and the Child Protection Law by implementing foster care activities. We work jointly and actively also with a number of Bulgarian and international non-government organizations, and also with the child protection government authorities.
The children from SOS Children’s Village Dren study at the local school in Dren village and they are the majority of students there. We actively cooperate with the teachers in order to be maximally efficient for the best of the children and the entire local Dren society. Two of the children are supported additionally by a tutor appointed by the school, whom they work together with in order to complete the losses in their education, which come mainly from the social negligence and the difficult life conditions, which they used to live in before coming to SOS. In their self-preparation all children in the village are supported by three tutors, who have the responsibility to also help them prepare for the final exams of the respective educational level and help them prepare for the next educational level entrance exams. A speech therapist actively works with fifteen children from the village and five children are supported by specialized psycho-therapy. All children relay on the professional work provided by our village psychologist and the two pedagogues.
The last ones are especially active in the realization of the large variety of outdoor activities for the children. For a second year many of the children’s spare time activities are held in the neighboring towns of Radomir and Dupnitza. This helps for their successful social inclusion and strengthens our relationships with the local society. The activities of football, basketball, volleyball and taekuondo develop the children physically and spiritually. Especially successful were our youngest footballers, who won in October the traditional tournament under the aegis of the Professional Football League’s boss. This year we also started a new activity – the art of ceramics, which we hope to remain for a long time in the village life.
The sections of modern ballet, break, folklore dances and folklore singing also gather lots of participants among the children, who joyfully attend their favorite activities. The new volunteer from the Peace Corp also participates with desire in the village life with sports activities and English language courses which she and her friends from the Corp organize for the children.
Again this summer we continued the good tradition of organizing summer camps for the children. End of July and beginning of August we were at the Black Sea resort Sozopol, where with the support of the hotel animators and the life-guards on the beach we provided unforgettable experiences to the children from eight to fourteen years old. For the first time we held a summer camp for the youngest children - two to seven-year-olds, who, under the cares of the psychologist and the helping-aunts, experienced wonderful days by the sea. For a second consecutive year the children from a couple of SOS families together with their SOS mothers participated in an eko-camp organized by the Bulgarian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and spent beneficial and exciting days in the resort Banja village situated in the Pirin Mountain.
The International Day of SOS Children’s Villages – 23 June – traditionally is held every year and is marked by a rich artistic program with active participation of the children and the village’s guests, a discothèque and, of course – fireworks.
In the beginning of 2009 the Bulgarian Child Protection Law was changed in direction of developing more services for out-of-home children and protection of children’s personal data. Right now we actively work towards holding procedures for child personal data usage according to the legislation changes. We negotiate with local and state authorities for a better statue of the SOS Children’s Village services, which would give more stability to the life of all children.
We shall continue to do our best in helping the children entrusted to our care until they are independent grown up adults and citizens of Bulgaria and the European Union.
Now we are all getting ready to meet the forthcoming Christmas holidays. The children, the SOS mothers and all of us are looking forward a better year to come ahead. I would like to thank you again for all your support and for your partnership in the name of the best for the children in SOS Children’s Village Dren!
I wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2010 Year!