OSI-Bulgaria

For many decades in Bulgaria, it has been common practice for children with disabilities to be separated from their families and isolated in large, remote, state-run institutions.  In these orphanages, the children's individual needs are neglected, and they are completely excluded from society and denied proper care and the most basic opportunities to develop.  Far from fostering the child's development, such environments only augment their disability, and strengthen the stigmatization of them as incapable of integrating and contributing to society.
Since 2005, a remarkable charity called The Cedar Foundation has actively led the trend towards deinstitutionalization in Bulgaria, addressing government, educators, and civil society to change perceptions, remove stigmas, and foster the development of disabled children.  But Cedar has also made practical contributions to this effort, creating and managing homes for special needs children in Kyustendil and Kazanlak, with OSI sponsorship providing a critical means of providing for the children's individual needs, as well as augmenting the standards in the homes.

Kyustendil

In 2007, Cedar Foundation initiated the closure of a state-run orphanage for disabled children, located in the remote village of Gorna Koznitsa.  In the nearby town of Kyustendil, well-served with schools, health facilities, and other resources, Cedar Foundation designed and built a modern complex of small group homes which they named "Siyanie" (Radiance) as a reflection of the children's capabilities.  Alas, in 2010 the Gorna Koznitsa institution was closed and 24 children and youth moved to Cedar's new "Siyanie" homes.  The success of this closure and transition helped give much-needed momentum to Bulgaria‚Äôs newly-emerging political will to close institutions and protect the basic human rights of children with disabilities.
Social, political, and economic development in Bulgaria has not come without cost however.  Prices have risen dramatically, and while these children now enjoy a modern home in a community able to serve their needs, in other respects we constantly face challenges that threaten our ability to create a truly family-type environment for these children.  In lieu of the state's Gorna Koznitsa orphanage, the government provides monthly funding for Siyanie homes, though as with Gorna Koznitsa this funding is barely adequate for the rudiments of food/utilities.  But more significantly, since these children have special needs, each one of them requires individualized attention and support that only a high staff/child ratio can achieve.  Adequately addressing each child's disabilities also requires an abundance of medical and therapeutical care, and the specialized transportation associated with that.  Finally, we love for our children to have happy memories and fun times in their youth!  All of this is where OSI Sponsorship plays a critical role, both as a consistent source of reliable funding for the homes, and as a means to serve each child's individual needs.

Photos:

Projects & Events

Below are special projects and events that OSI has provided for our Kyustendil children.
Iglika
OSI-Bulgaria (Kyustendil)
16 June 2017
Excursion to partake of our beautiful Bulgarian spring...
Tsari Mali Grad
OSI-Bulgaria (Kyustendil)
21 September 2016
Outdoor excursion of history and nature...
Osogovo Mountain & Ravda Seaside
OSI-Bulgaria (Kyustendil)
August 2016
Summer holidays in the mountains and at the seaside...
Rila Park, Dupnitsa
OSI-Bulgaria (Kyustendil)
19 May 2016
Day trip to beautiful Rila Park near the town of Dupnitsa...
Commentary - OSI's President/Founder reflects on the remarkable journey and unique virtues of our Bulgaria children...

Kazanlak

Using the Kyustendil homes as a model (see above), in 2014 Cedar Foundation partnered with the municipality of Kazanlak to create similar homes for institutionalized children.  The result is two separate homes ('East' and 'West'), each housing 12 severely disabled children who were life-long residents of state institutions.  The homes were opened and occupied over the course of 2015.  Unlike our Kyustendil children who all came from the same state institution, our Kazanlak children come from a number of different state facilities throughout the region, so we had the extra challenge of helping the kids get to know each other, besides their new environment.

'East' - Special Needs Home:

'West' - Special Needs Home:

Sponsors Needed!

A few of our Bulgaria special-needs children are yet awaing sponsorship.  Sponsorship costs US $35/month. If you are interested in sponsorship of one of these children, we'd love to have you with us!  Please visit our Child Sponsorship page for more information and to sign-up for sponsorship, and you'll be hearing from us!


Slatino Orphanage & Dupnitza

Over the course of the new millenium's first decade, OSI saw our original Bulgaria children through remarkable change and development in their country, including Bulgaria's entry into the European Union.  Our original programs in Slatino and Dupnitza helped our initial core group of children grow and saw them through this sometimes painful transition for themselves. 
OSI's initial effort in Bulgaria, beginning in 2001, was at a government orphanage for 40 children in the village of Slatino, near Dupnitza, about 65km south of capitol Sofia.  Providing daily care for these children, with them we also endured the closure of the orphanage in 2005 and the scattering of the children to various orphanages, foster homes, and relatives' homes.  Our mission turned to helping each of these children through their difficult transition and into their new lives.
In 2003, OSI also began sponsorship of children at Dupnitza orphanage, in addition to a unique sponsorship effort for children living in impoverished families in the desperate "mahali", -Roma communities that surround Dupnitza.  OSI liaison Jennifer Hee established our Day Center where our orphanage and Roma children could come for counseling, tutoring, independent living classes, leisure, or just a shoulder to lean on.
Our Slatino and Dupnitza children have grown up and out of the program, though we remain very proud and communicatively involved with many of them.

Projects & Events

Below are special projects and events that OSI provided for our Slatino and Dupnitza children.
Day Center
OSI-Bulgaria
October 2006
Day-Facility for life-skills, vocational, and other training and functions for our children...
SofiaLand
OSI-Bulgaria (Dupnitza)
8 September 2006
Day-trip to SofiaLand amusement park...
Summer Camp in Greece
OSI-Bulgaria (Dupnitza)
24-29 August 2004
A week at the Greek seaside at Camp Alexandra...
Mount Vitosha
OSI-Bulgaria (Slatino)
21 August 2004
Excursion to Mount Vitosha near Sofia...
Mount Vitosha
OSI-Bulgaria (Dupnitza)
25 July 2004
Excursion to Mount Vitosha near Sofia...
SofiaLand
OSI-Bulgaria (Slatino)
22 July 2004
Day-trip to SofiaLand amusement park...
Christmas in the Mountains
OSI-Bulgaria (Dupnitza)
24-26 December 2003
Christmas Eve and Christmas at a snowy lodge in the Rila Mountains...
Veliko Tarnovo & Shipka
OSI-Bulgaria (Dupnitza)
22 July 2003
Excursion to historic and scenic Veliko Tarnovo and Shipka...

Personnel

Program Site Sponsor

Alok Pandya
Alok is a young, successful entrepeneur in the USA who at a very early stage in his career felt a desire to use his business success to impact the lives of some of the world's disadvantaged children.  "It's the lives you impact and make better that really matters in this world." -Alok  OSI and our children are extremely fortunate and grateful that Alok has chosen to make this difference with us.

OSI Program Liaison

Elena Simeonova
Elena worked adminstratively for US Peace Corps in Bulgaria for a number of years before joining Cedar Foundation.  Elena has the ideal combination of administrative skills, English/computer skills, and cross-cultural experience to serve as liaison between our Bulgaria children and their OSI sponsors.  But most of all, Elena has a wonderful heart for our children!

Geography

Time & Weather in Bulgaria

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Orphan Sponsorship International is a US-registered 501(c)(3) charity