A boy painting a picture at nursery school in Wienerwald,…
There are not many visitors coming up to Marina's house in the hills near the town of Gabrovo. The few people walking the narrow steep road are either shepherds or hunters. So, when Marina saw two young women climbing upward, she thought these two chose the wrong footwear for hiking.
A boy painting a picture at nursery school in Wienerwald, Austria.
To go with this picture of a child being creative I have a story from Bulgaria where a single mother has learnt to be creative in order to provide for her family. The story starts with two young women climbing upward Marina's house in the hills near the town of Gabrovo. Maria is a single mother and this sight was unusual as not many visitors come up the narrow steep road, if they do they are either shepherds or hunters. So, when Marina saw these two she thought they had chosen the wrong footwear for hiking.
Marina's house would be a comfortable two-storey family home if poverty, time and family disputes hadn't left it crumbling. "My husband's sister owns half of the house," explains Marina shyly. "We can't use half the house." That half is not finished and the rest can hardly be called a home.
Two rooms and an outdoor toilet comprise Marina's dwelling. Her daughters sleep, eat, do math problems and draw in the only heated room of the house. The charred walls and mouldy furniture give out an unbearable stench despite the constant draught coming from the broken window.
When Maria's husband left her and the children she was jobless and couldn't pay her bills. Marina's case was registered as family at risk of child abandonment with the local child protection department and they informed the SOS family support team. A short time later, the two young women from the beginning of the story came climbing up the steep road in unfitting footwear.
Mariana and Zvezdelina, the two SOS co-workers of the family support programme in Gabrovo, are experienced social workers. Their work begins when families, such as Marina's, are identified as in risk of being separated from their children.
Marina's family was one of the forty families which the social workers of the programme visited offering support in obtaining medical help and schooling for the children. In addition, Marina also was supported in finding a job as a janitor in a local primary school.
"Parents often find themselves lost in the complicated social system," explains Zvezdelina. Many are unaware of the benefits they are entitled to and which would save them the scarce income they have. Thus, the social workers often have to accompany parents in visiting different institutions to claim their rights.
For privacy reasons, the names of the people in this story have been changed.