Why we work here
Bulgaria experienced significant political instability during
the 1990s, but unlike most countries where we work, it did join the
EU in 2007. Even so, Bulgaria is poorest EU country and has serious
issues with organised crime and corruption in the country. The EU
has repeatedly raised concerns about crime and corruption, even
suspending aid to Bulgaria but it has continued to struggle to
overcome these challenges. This has also significantly impacted on
investment in Bulgaria and its capacity to stabilize the economy.
Our team in Bulgaria works particularly with marginalised Roma and
Turkish minorities and vulnerable groups such as those who are
homeless, offenders and older people.
The average age children go to school until is 14 years
21% of the population lives below the poverty line
Unemployment stands at 6%
The difference we make - Securing employment for women
In Dabnitsa, a village in the Rhodope Mountains in South West
Bulgaria, unemployment is high and opportunities few. Getting a job
is a dream for many Bulgarian women. Despite high unemployment in
villages likes Dabnitsa in the Garmen region, there are several
textile factories servicing the country's tailoring industry that
offer good pay.
MWB provides a training course for women who want to learn how
to sew and use industry standard machinery that will help them
secure employment and support their families. We use a local hall,
provide women with a sewing machine they can keep and hire a
specialist to deliver the training.
Tutor, Nadezhda Topuzova, says: "Starting something new can be
daunting, and at first many of the women on the course struggle
with their confidence. But as they learn new skills like making
table cloths, curtains and bed sheets, their self-esteem increases
and the women take great pride in producing items for their homes.
It is so wonderful to see how much they grow in such a short space
Antoaneta, who's completed the training said: "When I was
given the sewing machine, I was very happy - I have three girls and
a boy and there are always clothes to be repaired. Until now I did
all repair work by hand, but now I can do the repairs
professionally and no longer will my children be ashamed to wear
Two other women who completed the training course, Kaimetka and
Lidia, secured employment as seamstresses. They say "Without this
course we would not have been confident enough to go for the
interview. Knowing that we had been trained by a professional made
us feel that we were able to demonstrate our skills and we were not
daunted by the practical tasks - MWB believed in us and told us we
could do it - and we did!"