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News

Parents Need Support to Improve their Digital Competencies

OAK LogoOnlineSofia, May 27, 2020

The first online (due to the Covid19 pandemic) meeting of the Learning Action Partnership (LAP) took place on May 27, 2020. Representatives of BFPA, Loveguide, Tulip Foundation, BYRC, WHO – Bulgaria, Know How Center for Alternative Care of Children of NBU, MLSP, NCCTHB, NCPHA, UNICEF, IOM, GERT Foundation, ARC Foundation, SAPI, PULSE Foundation, Roditeli Association Re-Act Association, WCIF.
The agenda included review of what has been done from the latest meeting of the Partnership up to the moment, sharing the experience of members’ activities in the Covid19 pandemic, discussion for coordinating efforts of the group and maximum using the different resources. The work on developing new web resource platform up to the moment and the ‘small projects’ initiative in the frame of the project ‘The Ability to Change’ were presented. The projects in priority area ‘Changing community attitudes and ‘zero’ tolerance to sexual exploitation of children’ are to start in September.

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‘My Body, My Rights’: Health Mediators form Yambol Municipality about their work in State of Emergency Conditions

MSD LogoYAMBOL 1 Yambol, May 2020

The parents are unemployed. Several days ago one of the brothers has come from abroad, unfortunately with no money. All the family does not have the right to go out of home. They all are quarantined. One day while she is working in her cabinet Kina Asenova is hearing a kid crying on the street. She is going out to see what is happening and sees the family’s six-year old child shaking on the ground and screaming. She finds out that the boy wants a snack very much and the family cannot afford that kind of expense... She goes to the shop, buys a box of the snacks and gives it them. ‘The next day we started distributing food. We gave it away without judging people’s race. We give as well for mentally disabled and people with different diseases’.
Kina is health mediator from 2008, but she works with people on different projects from the 2000s. People trust her. Her colleagues – Atanaska Mutafova, Asen Stoyanov, Atanas Atanasov, Ivan Ivanov and the mediators from Tundja Municipality daily do work in the villages Kukorevo, Kozarevo, Veselinovo, Drazhevo, Hadjidimovo. They work all day long, even on weekends. ‘Since Bulgaria declared state of emergency because of the Covid pandemic we are every day on the field, we give information on the infection, explain them why it’s important to stay at home. We are tracking people who came back from abroad and we make sure that they follow the quarantine guidelines. We have such people in almost every village.’

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‘My Body, My Rights’ – Successes and Challenges

MSD LogoMontana 1Health mediators from Montana, Bulgaria, and their work in state of emergency
Montana, March-May 2020

Peter Cvetanov, Sonya Rumenova and Valya Alexandrova are health mediators in Montana Municipality. The three of them as a team are implementing activities part of the project of Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA) – ‘My Body, My Rights’ (2018–2021). In addition to their municipality, pilot work is being done in two other locations in Bulgaria: Yambol and Sofia. The project is implemented in partnership with organizations from Serbia and Romania, with the coordinating role of International Planned Parenthood Federation and is supported by the programme for social responsible business of the company MSD via their campaign ‘MSD for Mothers’. Main goal of the initiative is to improve the conditions for ensuring quality of family planning services for vulnerable communities and to build capacity and civil responsibility within the communities.
Sonya in a health mediator from 2013. She graduated economics, married with two children: a boy and a girl: ‘Several years ago Roma women from the neighborhood didn’t see doctors for prophylactics. Part of them were not insured, others simply were living with their prejudices and fears. We had two obstetrics-gynecologists as part of the Bulgarian-swiss cooperation program ZOV. They were visiting the health center in the neighborhood according to schedule. Then we decided to form local women’s group for self support, where initially timidly, but afterwards more confidently we started talking about examinations, contraception, family planning, prevention of sexually transmitted infections... The women from the group started little by little to shake off their fears.’ They just made progress and the activities on project ended. Only  mediators remained in the health center. And then for them new opportunity arose via the project ‘My Body, My Rights’. ‘It gave us the opportunity to continue just on time. The group for self support is developing; the health center in the neighborhood is alive again.’ Sonya succeeded to motivate a poor mother of nine children for IUD insertion. Before that she tried many times, but without any success. ‘I think that she was mostly afraid of being damaged by IUD. Now I know for sure that my long-term working with this woman was not in vain.”

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Learning Action Partnership: Efforts for Guaranteed Sustainability

OAK LogoParticipantsSofia, February 12, 2020

The first for 2020 meeting of the Learning Action Partnership took place in Sofia on February 12, 2020. The agenda included review of activities done on project up to the moment, fixing of concrete future activities and defining small working groups for the different strategic directions.
Representatives of organizations and institutions who participated shared their working plans and the possibility of inclusion of other LAP members in joint activities. Part of the feedback was connected with the increase of fake news, including on priorities of the Partnership. The atmosphere of the event was businesslike, but with extremely well expressed solidarity and good collaboration feeling. In the debates during the meeting important actual topics were covered, such as increasing media and digital literacy of children and challenges, which we are meeting in our work with teachers with long practice on certain age and with burnout. Forming network of children and young people with innovative model of managing was discussed, which will aim decreasing the aggression of children under residential care. How to focus our work so that the efforts put to have guaranteed sustainability; science and research approach and regional and national level partnerships; the need to work together to change the environment – were among topics discussed during the event.

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Most significant change: Documenting stories

MSD LogoParticipantsDolna Banya, January 24-26, 2020

On January 26-28 BFPA organized a meeting of the teams working on the project „My body, my rights” from Sofia, Yambol and Montana. Representatives of the three locations shared their experiences from the implemented field activities. We discussed problems which health mediators, self-help group members and their partners face and paid special attention on possible ways and strategies for solving. Participants put accent on good practices that had been identified up to the moment. It was the perfect time to watch and discuss several videos, showing the fieldwork as well as image “memes” with messages, which show benefits of family planning.
Participants gave feedback also for the freshly prepared Manual for self-support groups and for the Health application for mobile devices, which will be useful in the future work on the project and after its ending. Divided into groups by locations the participants from Sofia, Yambol and Montana worked on possible ways of documenting stories for the most significant change of people’s lives as result of the work of project teams and health specialists.

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July 2021: Reviewing the Strategic Plan and Preparing for LAP Informational Campaign

Dolna Banya, 20-23 July 2021

Two events of main importance for the Learning Action Partnership (LAP) took place in July 2021 in Dolna Banya. In the beginning of the month was reviewed the Strategic Plan for Action of the network in the context of the dynamic changing political environment. The sociologist Asen Blagoev presented actual data on the social map of the country. One of the important recommendations given to LAP is health education and information on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) to be wider and regularly presented subject in school curriculum. Prevention of sexual violence and exploitation is a part of the topics, covered in the health and sexuality education wide topic. Up to the moment the knowledge for improving SRH are without stable financing from structural funds via the national budget. In this sense the efforts on advocacy for enlarging SRH in the curriculum of the middle and upper grade remain important for LAP.

 
Communication skills, messaging and PR strategy of BFPA

Dolna Banya, June 28-30, 2021

From June 28 to June 30, 2021 тhe team and the management board of BFPA together with key partners of the organization gathered for a second training under the project "Capacity building for advocacy for SRHR", supported by the EEA Financial Mechanism.
Prior to the training, the participants filled out a detailed questionnaire about how they see the organization and its work so far, what are the challenges of the external environment, which audience and which public groups should be introduced to our work.
The emphasis in the training program was upon the development of PR and communication strategy of the organization. Participants discussed the challenges for civil society organizations to speak in a language understood by their target audiences. Appropriate messages from BFPA aimed at different audiences were developed in working groups.

 
Launch of the Project ‘Awareness raising of local communities in areas with significant share of Roma population on asylum and migration issues’
June 22, 2021, Sofia
‘Our neighborhood is separated from the town, it has no name. The young people insist on continuing studying. Many of them are abroad. Those who came back are with obviously changed habits’, shares Kadrie from Provadia. 
On June 22, 2021 in the inspiring environment of the University Botanic Garden in Sofia was launched the project ’Awareness raising of local communities in areas with significant share of Roma population on asylum and migration issues’. The project is implemented by the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in partnership with a Consortium of three organizations - National Network of Health Mediators, Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association and ‘Ethnic Minorities Health Problems Foundation. The three organizations act from decades as one enlarged team and have considerable success in the fields of health prevention and advocacy. Health mediators from Filipovtsi, Breznik, Tran, Provadia and Harmanly, where field project research is held, together with representatives of NGOs, state institutions and embassies took part at the event. The meeting was moderated by Dr. Radosveta Stamenkova, Executive Director of BFPA, who was also host of a kick-off online project meeting on May 20. 
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