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Home  > ActiWITTies  > Local Trainings > Article

Bulgarian local training, February 2005: Participants in their own words
Maria Velichkova | 9 April 2005


Internet Rights Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Focal Point of WITT, organized a regional training between 19 and 22 February 2005 in Sofia, gathering women from all parts of Bulgaria. The aim was to learn to use ITs strategically in their work.


Participants were taught how to use Information and Communication Technologies strategically and how to write and publish efficiently for a website. During the training, the feminist trainer from France, Joelle Palmieri, asked the women to interview each other and afterwards to write each other’s portraits, which were then discussed, keeping in mind the writing techniques, that had just been studied beforehand. Here are the portraits of some of the participants (some of them in shorter form):

Nina and the orphans, by Zeinep Saraeva

Nina Todorova, Coordinator of the "foster care" project in Bulgaria, works for orphans as if she were their mother. She has been working for 14 years for the Orphan Foundation, searching for foster parents.

Nowadays Nina and her colleagues train specialists who work with children - teachers, doctors, journalists, etc. She believes that the future of the world depends on our children. "If they are happy, healthy, and well-educated, that will be to our advantage", she says.

The orphans are welcome at Nina’s house where they enjoy her family’s hospitality - her husband and her two sons have big hearts. She is a frendly person and will accept all your suggestion and ideas at: Nina

"Communications is my everyday work", by Maria Ruseva

This is what Maria Velichkova, editor at the Internet Rights Bulgaria Foundation, says. She works on various projects, publishes information on the organization’s website (www.socialrights.org), and reports news from Bulgaria, the world, and other NGO’s.

Maria writes her own articles in English and Bulgarian and translates texts. She speaks Bulgarian, English, Slovak, Russian and understands all Slavic languages. She says, "communication is my everyday work". Although very busy, Maria manages to find time for her favourite novels and movies. She meets friends, she likes traveling and going to ... rock-concerts.

Mother Teresia of Sandanski, by Violeta Vlahova

Tanya Minkova is called "Mother Teresia" by some people in her community because she is always ready to help everyone around her with advice or real action. You can meet Tanya at Rainbow - her private English school for young people eager to learn the language.

Tanya does something more than only teaching the language. Pupils usually stay after classes to talk to her about matters that are of real interest and concern to them. This is how she comes to know young people better and to discuss various issues with them, often issues they do not dare to discuss with their parents.

Teaching is one aspect of Tanya’s life, and the other one is her activity for the non-governmental sector. She is Executive Director of the Ideas and Values Foundation which aims at promoting women’s and children’s human rights. "Working for the NGO sector gives me informal friendships, personal development and keeps me informed", she says to explain her involvement in NGOs. She is used to working for the people of Sandanski. Everybody knows her and she knows most of them.

She was born there, and although she spent 20 years of her life in Plovdiv and abroad (Czechoslovakia and Russia), she came back to her native town to settle down. "I like my native town because people in big cities are anonymous".

Since she came back, she has started to work actively for her community and was elected municipal counsellor and then reelected for two more terms. That is why even now, when she is no longer a counsellor, people would ask for her advice or a favour, which explains her words: "It takes me two hours instead of 15 minutes to cross the town center". She is always responsive and tries her best to help, not because she expects gratitude, which comes very rarely, but because it is part of her life.

The Rescuer, by Dima Spasova

Svetla is a young woman from Vratsa, Bulgaria. She is still a student of American and British studies at the New Bulgarian University. She is working in Vela Center - Vraca as a technical asisstant, which includes translating and editing in English and German.

Svetla likes listening to Guns’n’Roses with her pet, Perry, named after Axel Rose. She loves holidays at the seaside with friends, traveling, diving, and collecting mussels. Svetla also likes cooking exotic meals, dreams of visiting every country in the world, most of all South Africa, where she would like to help children to live better lives.

Equilibrium or Altrnative, by Svetlomira Eremicheva

Dima Spassova keeps the balance at Equilibrium, the only organization in the city of Rousse, trying to achieve happier and more loving families, through alternative holidays.

Alternative activities and ways of thinking, that is typical of Ms. Dima Spassova. Dima is working as a technical assistant at Equilibrium, a non-governmental organisation. "I’m a multifunctional girl,", says Ms Spassova about her position. The organization has a goal: namely, to organize vacations and alternative holidays for families. These activities aim to bring families together and to help them show their love and tenderness toward each other.

As most of the young women, Dima is very ambitious and deeply believes that due to her hard work, her ideas of a better life will come true. The young lady is striving to realize her ideas, and she manages to achieve all her goals with wit and a sense of humour.

Good choice for Gender Project, by Stoyanka Minkova

Violeta Vlahova is the new Director of the Gender Project for Bulgaria. She got this position after three years of hard work for the Foundation. Was it the right choice for the NGO’s members?

Violeta is always smiling, a good looking, middle-aged woman, very enthusiastic and full of energy. She seems to have time for everybody and everything, including fighting for women’s rights in Bulgaria - the mission of her NGO.

"The Gender Project For Bulgaria (GPF) is the partner of the Gender Task Force at a national level", says Villy, "Being a foundation director is a very hard work. You have to be communicative, out-going, responsible and to take initiative. You have to make your own decisions every minute. You work for other women all day long. I think I am not selfish, which is strange, because I was the only child in the family."

The active lady gets complete support from her family, especially from her son, who is a student in geography at the Sofia University. Young people in Bulgaria have a better understanding of the modern idea of protecting women’s rights.

How did it all begin?
Violeta Vlahova had worked in the foreign trade area for many years, before she moved abroad with her husband to work in Indonesia and Greece. Coming back home again she did not find a job - it was a difficult time of changes for Bulgarians! Fortunately, her friend Stanimira Hadjimitova invited her to work for the GPF .

Vlahova has been trained and educated to be a well qualified NGO activist. She no longer has free time even for her hobby - going to the mountains. But she has made a lot of new friends all over the world.

Zeynep Saraeva training blind people to work with PC, by Nina Todorova

Zeynep Saraeva is the Executive Director of Horizonti Foundation (HF). She has been working there for six years. She helps visually impaired people to get the information they need, to use PCs, and to get a good education.

She uses the special software Jaws for Windows to teach her students. Zeynep is a master of social and culture activities. She likes classical music; her favourite composer is Mozart. "I want to develop myself in Horizonti. I make friends with most people I get to work with".

The Horizonti Foundation was established in 1995 by a group of visually impaired students and professionals. Its main purpose is to support the visually impaired in various spheres of life: education, communication, and professional development. This goal drives their whole strategy. The Foundation is now undertaking two new projects: training of trainers for PC literacy for visually impaired people and managing a resourse center.

"The blind taught me to swim", says Zeynep, whose best friends are blind. One of them is an English translator and the other is a master of social activities. They attracted Zeynep to work for Horizonti.

"I’ve become attached to work", by Maria Velichkova

Maria Ruseva, a web designer, has been working for Center Maria, Gorna Oriahovitsa, since the very beginning in 1999. She started to work as one of the volunteers on the telephone hotline in the center for women as a technical assistant on their first project with victims of violence. The center had one computer in the office. She became a trainer of domestic violence prevention for students from schools in the city. As often happens in non-governmental organizations, she was gathering experience in various fields, and she was also involved in writing up projects, fundraising, etc.

There were hard times, when she and her colleagues had to work for free. But it is natural for Maria that there are ups and downs in work and that you should both give and take. Step by step, the center gained more and more of the citizens’ confidence. Now the organization even has radio time every two weeks to give educational talks on different problems concerning women. These five minutes of Center Maria have become very popular among citizens.

Maria likes to party hard but you will never see her looking tired. Her dream is to have her own place to live some day.

At the training, other active participants were:

Jivka Marinova and Bojura Pavlova, from the Gender Education, Research and Technologies Foundation, (GERT)

The trainers were:

Joelle Palmieri from Les Penelopes, France,

Christina Haralanova and Maria Velichkova from Internet Rights Bulgaria Foundation





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