Giving something back
Visitors to Bulgaria will all be aware of two things: one is that its people are extraordinarily generous, and the other is that many of them are very hard up.
The Karin Dom Foundation was set up by a former Bulgarian Ambassador to the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Ivan Stancioff. He offered his family house, which had been built in 1908, nationalised in 1944 and restituted in 1993, to a foundation named after a cousin, Karin, who had suffered from cerebral palsy. The Centre for Rehabilitation and Social Integration of Children with Special Needs is the first such centre in Bulgaria. Each year it is possible, after successful rehabilitation, to transfer some children to mainstream kindergartens and schools. The multidisciplinary team of specialists work with about 150 children on average in a year. Karin Dom serves as a day centre for children with physical disabilities, mental or behaviour problems, autism and learning difficulties. The objective is to help children with special needs and their families, so that they are not abandoned in institutions but included in the life of the community. There is more information on the website and details of how to help by making a donation.
Any visitor to Sofia will be aware of the plight of the street dogs. Residents are ambivalent about the dogs, seemingly believing that sterilisation is cruel, but that to abandon unwanted pets on the street is ‘giving them a chance’. Animal Rescue Sofia rescues, treats and rehomes stray and/or injured animals. It ran a successful fund-raising campaign in 2013, resulting in the purchase of land and buildings for the home of the rescue centre. Dogs are vaccinated and neutered before being offered for rehoming. The Farm is accessible by public transport from Sofia.