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Volunteers of BFPA: Online Youth Meeting

ZOOM, Q&AJune 18, 2020

Online national meeting-discussion ‘Health and Sexuality Education from the Point of View of Peer to Peer Trainers’ was organized and held by the Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA) on 18th June 2020 at the platform for active communication Zoom. Over 35 BFPA peer educators from Sofia, Ruse, Stara Zagora, Pernik and Pleven participated at the meeting and discussed how the conditions of the COVID-19 crisis influenced the ToT process and the delivery of educational sessions and how to continue working on the important topics of health and sexuality education. Reliable information about puberty and growing up, reproductive health, preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs is valuable and interesting for young people who do not stop looking for materials (mainly online) in order to get additional knowledge.Besides these “evergreens” young people are interested in other topics: mental health, suicides, alimentaion disorders, violence prevention.

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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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Youth Аdvocacy Тeams for Better Access to Health Services and Information

Banya, August 22-24, 2022

Together with 14 young people from Blagoevgrad, Dupnitsa and Sofia, we worked on implementation of  two campaigns - in Blagoevgrad and Dupnitsa - to support vulnerable communities and improve young people's access to SRH  information and services. The main topics of the training focused on advocacy skills, organizing and conducting local campaigns and how to use “photovoice” method. Examples of already developed campaigns from the previous training in Dolna Banya were also presented.  The idea was to involve new participants in various activities in different locations, as well as to connect young people to help and learn from each other in the process of preparing and implementing advocacy campaigns.
The young people with the help of the health mediators, defined as a problem the poor access to information and health services, ensuring a healthy and fulfilling way of life for the young people from the Roma community in Blagoevgrad. They have the ambition to contribute for raising the public awareness towards these problems in Blagoevgrad, and also to draw the attention of the institutions to the problem.

 
Young People Working to Support Local Communities

Dolna Banya, July, 11-13, 2022

Talks, questions, sharing about the huge gap between how young people define health care problems and how adults see them; about the lack of trust in the institutions regarding their reaction in cases of violence, even for registered ones! We discussed that deep in our national psychologyit is stated that talking about mental health and "shameful" illnesses is not good, when it happens at all it is hidden, superficial and stigmatizing, and thus leads to dramatic complications for people in personal plan. We also talked about the nuances of "advocacy" and "lobbying."
We from the BFPA team think that we are really lucky for working with a group of wonderful young people - from the youth clubs in Pernik and Breznik and from the American University in Blagoevgrad (AUBG). The workshop was held July 11-13, 2022, in Dolna Banya. Our work topics are advocacy and campaigning.

 
How Health Knowledge to Get to Roma Communities

Dolna Banya, July 5-7, 2022

After two days fulfilling work on leadership and advocacy with unbelievable roma young people from Lom, Dupnitsa and Byala Slatina problems in respective communities were identified. Discussions in searching the best decisions were led; image of the target groups and stakeholders was created and the needed communication skills on leading a successful campaign were discussed. Role plays, practical cases and individual video presentations with messages were commented.
The health mediators Tanya Kirilova from Lom, Daniela Ljubenova from Dupnitza and Mirena Bocheva from Byala Slatina are real mentors for the young people from the communities they work for. The three of them, together with Dr. Rada Stamenkova, Pavlina Filipova and Ralitsa Zgalevska from BFPA team actively contributed to support the motivated and well-prepared young people, enthusiastic to advocate for better health of people from their communities. In the coming months the team will continue to work on building their capacity as leaders and to help them with expertise and guidelines.

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