Social and recreation activities for the orphans of "Rodopski pansion" in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Volunteer project: "Rodopski pansion" provides home and care for disadvantaged children at the ages of 6 to 18. Most of the children are orphans or abandoned, some have mild to medium levels of learning or mental disabilities. The home also provides support to families who are temporarily unable to take care of their kids. The parents are being encouraged and taught effective parenting skills while the children stay in the social home. The establishment also runs a Crisis center, which serves as an emergency shelter for abused and traumatized children or those from troubled families.
Another program of the Social home is for social and professional integration. It prepares for independent living 17 - 20 years old youths who grew up in this or other similar facilities throughout the country. During the day they attend vocational training courses, but the volunteers may meet and spend time with some of them in the evenings and weekends.
The socially disadvantaged background of most of the children is considered to be the reason for many problems, which they face in school, in their contacts with other people, in their everyday life. That's why the interaction with other young people from different countries while working, playing, learning together in the frame of an international volunteer project effectively supports their socialization and adapting to life in mainstream society.
The main objective of the project is establishing intercultural social contact between the children of Rodopski pansion and the group of international volunteers from all parts of the world, as well as improving children’s communication skills.
The establishment has recently started a new program working with children with autism. The program involves both residents of the orphanage and children with families in town. Volunteers who are interested or have previous experience working with autistic children are very welcome to join these particular activities.
The social project in Plovdiv consists of four consecutive workcamps, each with a duration of two weeks. Depending on the availability of free places, a volunteer may join more than one project. Keep in mind that a short-term volunteer workcamp is a very dynamic and emotionally intense experience and requires higher personal commitment, comparable to that in longer volunteer projects.
Volunteer activities: The volunteers will work with two separate groups of resident children. The first group includes 18 children at the age of 6 to 12 with mild or moderate learning or mental disabilities. The volunteers will take the kids to short walks outside, organise and play games, take them to a swimming pool, etc.
The second group consists of 16 children up to 18 years of age, who are orphaned, abandoned or separated from their families. The volunteers will help organise a varied program of activities such as sports events and competitions, group games, martial arts for kids, thematic workshops, music, arts and crafts, walks in the city of Plovdiv, visits to different sights and events.
Volunteers who are interested in learning more about the complex world of autism are encouraged to join the program working with children having an autistic spectrum disorder. Volunteers will provide positive experiences for these kids and encourage meaningful, interactive behaviours and social skills through activities and games.
Some of the planned activities for the volunteers involve maintenance tasks around the home, such as cleaning, painting or moving furniture.
Because of the lack of funds and the difficult economic situation of these social establishments in Bulgaria, the volunteers are invited to contribute with their creativity, enthusiasm and ideas. Over the years, the experience has proved that without costly events, this can be a really rewarding and unforgettable time for the volunteers and the youngsters.
Aims of the project:
- to establish intercultural social contact between the children and young people from different countries
- to improve the communication abilities of the children in informal environment
- support in organizing different cultural and sports events
- to offer opportunity for the children to learn practical and living skills, and habits for self-dependent living
- providing informal atmosphere for foreign language practice for the children
- maintenance of the building and the orphanage grounds, which would help for forming right attitude of the children for keeping the property
- to promote charity and voluntary work through involving the young people from the orphanage in common activities
Accommodation: Accommodation is provided for the participants at the orphanage boarding house. Sleeping bags are not needed. Volunteers have their food prepared by the cooking staff.
Terminal: The nearest international airport is Sofia Airport (SOF).
Age range: 18 - 35 years old