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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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Start of the second edition of the Sofia Health Education Academy

Trainers and traineesSofia, December 16, 2019

After a successful and intense first year during which the first batch of alumni peer educators of the Sofia Health Education Academy got skills and knowledge which they are already sharing with their peers, we started the second academic year. In this process the BFPA team works with valuable partners – the PIST Directorate of Sofia Municipality, the National Centre for Public Health and Analyses with MoH (NCPHA) and the Bulgarian Red Cross Youth (BRCY)
During the academic 2018-2019 teams of young people from 1st High school, 144th, 119th schools, 1st ELS and the Professional School of Textile and Fashion Design, supported by their school psychologists underwent an intensive training program and at the end of the education received certificates and demonstrated their abilities in front of schoolmates, parents and teachers.

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Latest news

28 new health mediators from the class of 2022 received their certificates after successfully passing the exam

Sofia, April 29, 2022

On March 21, 2021, the new scholar year was opened for health mediators from all over the country. The training is organized for the eleventh consecutive year by the National Network of Health Mediators and the Faculty of Public Health at the Medical University of Sofia. As always, BFPA experts are part of the training team. This year's course includes 28 health mediators, who will start working in May in 22 municipalities in the country.
For the third consecutive academic year, the educational sessions were online due to the still significant prevalence of Covid-19. Against this background, there is a great need for trained health mediators to support the implementation of state and municipal policies for public health. For the past two years, health mediators have been among the professionals working at the forefront and helping people from vulnerable communities by explaining, informing, reassuring, supporting the poorest families, providing donations of food and basic necessities. In many places in the country, health mediators have implemented information campaigns on the benefits of vaccination against covid-19 - this activity still continues at the moment.

 
Working Conference of LAP and Starting the ‘Eyes Peeled’ Campaign

Sofia, April 18, 2022

On April 18, 2022 in Sofia the National conference of the Learning Action Partnership on zero tolerance towards sexual exploitation of children was held.
About 70 participants from different organizations from NGO sector, state institutions, UN structures, journalists, public figures, professionals working with children and young people in Sofia and the country joined the event.
Representatives of the Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA), UNICEF and the International Organization of Migration (IOM) presented the LAP key activities during the years, on the global and local context of the problem sexual violence and exploitation concerning political and regulatory decisions, as well on the conditions in safe zones for the unaccompanied children passing through the country.

 
Migration: risks and opportunities during labor migration in UK

Samokov, March 28, 2022

A team from the Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA) delivered in Samokov an information session on March 28, 2022 in the “HUB-a” coworking space. Among the participants there representatives of the local Roma community, young people form 11 and 12 grade and their teachers, representatives of the Social services and the Municipality. Pavlina Filipova and Dr. Radosveta Stamenkova talked with the gathered about the opportunities and potential dangers when starting a job in the UK. Dobryana Petkova, a professional with long year practice in prevention of trafficking people, shared with the group on some specific marks to recognize the danger of trafficking people for labor and sexual exploitation. The training team was complemented by Villy Angelova form the British Embassy in Sofia and Ralitza Zgalevska from the BFPA team.

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