Interview with Albena Krusheva, Director of PINK Foundation

Where did the initial idea for PINK come from?image-(1)

The initial idea for PINK came from the practical experience and volunteer work among children at risk in communities and institutions around Bulgaria, mostly in the towns of Tran, Kyustendil and Dupnitsa. Sometimes volunteer groups from the US and England would come for short-term, mostly humanitarian projects, on the territory of these towns. We easily found ways to make small improvements in the lives of children and their families. But with time we realized that short-term projects are not enough, as well as short-term visiting of the institutions, because we think that in order to have a long-term impact in the children`s life, there must be a consistent presence in these towns. This is why we decided that the short-term projects with volunteers would be part of the PINK program. It would also have permanent presence in the towns where we are situated and also it would include carrying clubs and courses based on the interests of the children. From Monday to Friday children come on schedule to our PINK centers, attending a particular course, which would last few months or one school year.

What is the PINK program?

The PINK program is a life transformation process built on long term commitment to children and youth. We start with kids as young as 3 years old and stay with them until they reach maturity. In addition to group activities, our adult staff and volunteers set aside regular, individual time and attention for every child. The 5 core disciplines the PINK program revolves around are: socialization, education, health and hygiene, community service and life skills.

Since when the PINK foundation exists and in how many towns it operates?

PINK was registered under Bulgarian law in late 2012 and is a public benefit foundation. But overall we have been volunteering work since 2006. We work in the territory of three towns – Tran, Peshtera and Pernik.  We opened the first center in the town of Tran, where we also purchased a building, later named the PINK House after the foundation. Following renovation the house opened its doors on October the 7th, 2014. It has the capacity to school 50 children of various ages up to 18.

How many children is part of the program in every town?

At the time of writing we have approximately 150 children a large part from Tran, followed by Pernik and Peshtera.

What are the positive things you observe over the years of working with children?

The positive things we see are the level of communication and deepening friendships that develop between the children involved in the program. Also the opportunity for the children to realize their potential, because the main mission of the PINK Foundation is to give every child the tools to develop their particular talents. Thanks to the social workers and volunteers who attend both the courses and events at PINK, we see positive results in the life of the child. This new found positivity gives the children confidence which in turn benefits the lives of the parents in terms of trusting the child to be more independent. It is because of these effects that more and more children wish to participate in PINK programs.

Also we see growing interest in the form of new sponsors of PINK and other individuals wishing to volunteer in our activities. In addition we have more kindergarten and school headmasters who want to make agreements with the Foundation for the long term. Moreover we see interest from municipalities which also express an interest of working alongside of PINK long term.

Some of the courses are vocational, such as the cooking course for young people, which gave 6 of our children the opportunity to find a job and internship in local restaurants such as the one in Erma hotel in Tran and Struma hotel in Pernik. 6 participants have already signed work contracts and will receive professional training for the summer months.

What are the future plans of PINK?

The future plans of PINK includes acquiring more houses in both Pernik and Peshtera.  Also PINK plan more recruitment of social workers on a full time basis along with expansion of contracts. Furthermore we hope to increase the number of sponsors, start participating in European Union projects, conclude agreements with kindergartens, schools and municipalities and to increase the number of children participating in the program.

 

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