A YOUNG MAN’S STORY - Miro
A YOUNG MAN’S STORY - Misho
A YOUNG GIRL’S STORY - Mery
A YOUNG BOY’S STORY - Traycho
My name is Miroslav Borislavov Rusev. I was born in Silistra, a town in north-east Bulgaria. I have two brothers and a sister. My sister died at birth. One of my brothers lives with my mother, the other lives with my father. I am 19 years old. At the age of 9 my mother and I came to Sofia. My mother left me at the Central Train Station where I stayed for a year and started inhaling glue. When I was 10 years old I went to the Faith, Hope, and Love Centre in Sofia. Afterwards I started going to school and went back to my mother. She had a boyfriend who abused me physically and mentally. I began skipping classes and dropped out of school after 7th grade because my mother got tuberculosis and I had to care for my younger brother.
Life on the streets taught me many things, which my peers from normal families will never understand. These things have helped me to survive in the difficult situation of my everyday life. However I also struggle with many bad habits that inhibit my success. Yet I have learned that friendship and trust are more precious than a suitcase of money. One of my friends helps me with money for school and clothes and often gives me personal advice too. I trust him very much and he is just like a father to me.
In general it is very difficult for me to survive on the streets. I have held many different jobs to try to make ends meet. I hope that I shall manage to build a life of my own in the future. I want to complete my education. The big problem is that I don't have a home. I am currently living in an abandoned former printing house on 18, 11 August Str. with several other teenagers.
I go to the 16+ Youth Centre everyday where I have access to sanitation, food, a shower, and different classes. I have learned to manage my money, make a plan for the day and communicate properly with my peers. I have participated in different activities such as cooking, sports, computer technology, sewing, fitness and ceramics. I work three days a week so I can go there during the other days. The support I get from the social workers in the centre cannot be found anywhere else in Bulgaria.
I don't know what will happen with me in 5 to 10 years. I don't want to think about this now but instead just try to live one day at a time.
A chance for young people at risk, belief in possibilities for them to develop and become dignified and full-fledged members of the society: this is the mission of the 16+ Centre. Every young person matters. Every day, the 16+ team supports youths faced with a difficult life situation to get back on their feet and take the course of their dignified lives.
One of these youths is Misho. This is his story. Misho was an orphan and grew up in a specialized institution, the Home for Children Deprived from Parental Care in Razliv village.
As early as childhood, he had to deal with the wear and tear of life. He used to be chef assistant at the Home.
Without a family and the support of parents, he managed to complete his secondary education with great perseverance and troubles in Botevgrad town. We can only guess what efforts, self-discipline and strong-willed personality were required by Misho in the social environment that was a reality in such institutions (a common room with seventeen beds and a single wood-burning stove), so that he was able to get prepared for every single exam and test. Still, he never gave up. He is now a student at Vassil Levski National Sports Academy, majoring in Physical Education Teaching. Misho is 24 years old now. A few months ago he married his girlfriend Hristina. They have a wonderful daughter whom they named Vesselina. During all this time, the team of 16+ Day Care Centre supported Misho and followed his life story. The team lent a hand in planning the couple’s wedding and accommodating the young family in a dormitory.
The life of a young family without the support of parents, appropriate social environment and in the conditions of a crisis is extremely difficult, but they never surrender. Misho refused to give himself up to despair even when a grave and humiliating incident occurred; he got beaten up badly by skinheads on the bus on his way back from classes in the Academy. He was rushed to the hospital, wounded physically but also psychically because of the racial insult and the humiliation. His wife Hristina who was then seven months pregnant looked for help again at 16+, the place where she always felt protected and found understanding, for a possibility to finance his treatment.
Fortunately, Misho is quickly regaining his health and is soon going back to the University.
Mary has been placed in the Crisis Centre in 2013, through police protection due to violence in the family, of which Mary is the victim. She quickly adapts and finds new friends, even among the social workers of the Centre.
At the end of her three-month stay and the evaluation of the risk of moving Mary back with her family, she was placed in another institution until her 18th birthday.
In the autumn of 2015 Mary turned 18, left the institution at which she had been residing and returned to her relatives in Sofia city. During the two years of living in an institution Mary regularly contacted the social workers in the crisis Centre.
She visited us in the beginning of 2016 and relayed her wish to continue her education. One day she came back and confessed that her family situation hasn’t changed and she’s deeply disappointed. The Crisis Centre reacted immediately and placed Mary in Foundation “Concordia Bulgaria” - institution for young people. There Mary will improve her skills and will continue her education.
Traycho is twelve years old and one of the eleven children of Vassilka Koleva.
He lives in a quarter in Sofia, where most of the people are Roma, in an illegal building with no electricity, running water or a bathroom. The child does not regularly go to school, he spends most of his time on the street with his brothers and sisters and children from the neighborhood. His friends beg on the street, sniff glue, steal and even prostitute. Some of them use heavy drugs like cocaine and meth. Some of them are already HIV/AIDS positive. Thanks to regular social street work, the child comes more often to the Centre for street children, instead of wandering the streets with his friends. There is a definite change in his behavior. Traycho has shown an increasing interest in the educational sessions with the Centre’s pedagogues. He also shows a will to maintain acceptable hygiene, despite the difficult living conditions of his family.
In 2015 Traycho’s mother dies. Thus, the child remains without support from adults, because he doesn’t know his father. He has no close relatives in the community, except of a few “benevolent” people who would encourage him again towards the unhealthy habits of his friends.
Every child deserves a decent childhood. The team is strongly dedicated in helping him find a real and caring family.