UNICEF Bulgaria's Annual report 2015

21.09.2016 10:44


Thank you for being TOGETHER with UNICEF and for great results, achieved during the past year TOGETHER with you for the children in Bulgaria and around the world. Thank you for the hope that we bring for better future!

#ForEveryChild #ChildRights #FaithUnfair

What do all the people on Earth have in common? Each of us was a CHILD.

2.2 billion children are living across the world, 1.2 million of them are in Bulgaria. In 2015, UNICEF was once again beside the MOST VULNERABLE among them: children victims of VIOLENCE; children with DISABILITIES; REFUGEE children; children in CONFLICT with the law; children DEPRIVED of parental care or at RISK of abandonment, POVERTY and lack of EDUCATION.

We started 2015 with a national campaign to fight the TABOO called "Violence against children". UNICEF in Bulgaria enabled the creation of 3 innovative Child Advocacy Centers. For the first time, children can get in ONE PLACE the different types of support they need - from lawyers, doctors, psychologists, social workers. To be able to create all of that, we were helped by over 20,000 monthly donors - BENEFACTORS, partners from media, NGOs, local and state authorities. Only TOGETHER can we provide "Future Free of Violence for Every Child". Over 100 popular persons STOOD UNITED in support of our cause during a pro-bono advocacy and fundraising Telethon in the prime time of Bulgaria’s biggest TV station.

They supported us in yet another important cause in 2015 - "Together from the Kindergarten". Because it is unfair that that 8,000 children with special needs in Bulgaria are ISOLATED. Therefore, we conducted another national campaign and a second Telethon with bTV within that same year – and recruited 16,000 new pledge donors. With NGO partners, local and national authorities we are supporting the creation of INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT so that children with disabilities can realize their RIGHT to learn, play and grow together with their peers. Only that way can we create a TOLERANT society of SOLIDARITY with people in need.

Such solidarity was shown by the people in Bulgaria towards hundreds of thousands of children and families whose lives were devastated by the earthquake in NEPAL. Together with Nova TV and dozens of online media, UNICEF in Bulgaria rolled out an advocacy and fundraising campaign and mobilized very shortly after the disaster more than 176 000 BGN (100 000 USD). That is how we supported the RIGHT of children abroad to SURVIVE and grow up HEALTHY and PROTECTED.

We also helped the girls and boys who fled the HORRORS OF WAR. Regardless of where they come from and where they are heading – refugee or migrants, CHILDREN ARE CHILDREN, and they have the right to live in PEACE and protection: their DIGNITY must be preserved, and their VOICE be heard!

Because every child has the right to say: MY VOICE MATTERS! And almost 7 000 girls and boys from all parts of Bulgaria participated in a UNICEF campaign dedicated to CHILD PARTICIPATION.This waythey expressed their OPINION freely on matters that concern them. POVERTY, VIOLENCE, low-quality EDUCATION and easy access to ALCHOHOL and DRUGS were identified by the children as the biggest challenges in their lives. The Bulgarian National Television helped us promote children’s right to participate when decision about their lives and well-being are made – and the State Agency for Child Protection promised to implement the solutions, drawn by children. And because children's voices must rise high – a UNICEF-colored, GIANT BALOON rose above and “gave wings” to CHILDREN’S DREAMS.

Another strong voice in their support children received during the first visit to Bulgaria by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake – who met with the President, Prime Minister, ministers and key partners. He insisted that Bulgaria must close the gap of INEQUALITIES - by taking children out of state-run institutions and guaranteeing their RIGHT to live in CARING FAMILY ENVIRONMENT, as well as by reforming the JUVENILE JUSTICE system – because every child and adolescent deserves a SECOND CHANCE..

:: Our efforts to ensure the right of every child to live in a LOVING FAMILY ENVIRONMENT gave good results - through support for families and the closure of state-run institutions for children. Thus, in August 2015 the LAST BABY in the Home for medical and social care in Shumen was taken out and placed in foster care, and in December the Government closed this institution. That was our focus ever since the TV format "The Magnificent Six" – which united civil society, politicians, celebrities and media in a COMMON CAUSE: to ensure better life for every child deprived of parental care or separated from his or her family.

:: To prevent SEPARATION FROM FAMILY in the first place, as well as the abandonment of babies in institutions, and to enable parents' RIGHTS of access to social, health and educational services – UNICEF in Bulgaria enabled the development of a network of FAMILY CENTERS in Shumen, Novi Pazar and Veliki Preslav. And in 2015 we opened their branches in Venetz and Kaolinovo. There, social workers and nurses are working with the most vulnerable children and parents. By the end of 2015 we have supported over 3,300 POOR FAMILIES and children at risk; 215 CASES OF SEPARATION from biological families were prevented; 300 CHILDREN WERE SUPPORTED to start attending kindergarten; 1320 INDIVIDUAL CONSULTATIONS for children were conducted; FAMILY PLANNING services were provided for 760 WOMEN.

:: By supporting FOSTER CARE at national level, UNICEF in Bulgaria supported the development of alternatives to „infant homes“ - to allow thousands of children to live in much-needed family environment. The results speak for themselves: from 12,600 children in institutions in 2001, the number was REDUCED to less than 2000 by the end of 2015.

:: Led namely by the desire to fulfill the RIGHT of every child to have the BEST START in life, UNICEF in Bulgaria supported home visiting services by nurses and midwives from the Centers for maternal and child health in Shumen and Sliven. Over 5500 PREGNANT WOMEN and families with children aged 0-3 years received support in caring for the health and development of their children in some of the most IMPORTANT YEARS of their lives.

:: Early childhood development is at the heart of our mission. In 2015 the UNICEF-supported Centre for Early Childhood Development in Kotel proved that with EARLY LEARNING & ADEQUATE CARE vulnerable children (who had NEVER BEFORE touched a book, a pencil or a toy) can CLOSE THE GAPS. In just one year, they achieved educational results comparable to those in mainstream kindergartens. This, as only EDUCATION is able to break the generational CYCLE OF POVERTY.

:: In order to ease the TRAUMA of returning to the distress Of violence over and over again, UNICEF in Bulgaria facilitated the creation of Child-friendly hearing facilities – or BLUE ROOM which enables children who witnesses or victims of abuse and crime to give their testimony under HUMANE CONDITIONS.  Guaranteeing the RIGHT of the child to be heard, and his or her psyche to be SPARED and dignity PRESERVED – the UNICEF-supported Blue Room in Sliven was inaugurated by the President of Bulgaria, Mr. Plevneliev, in January 2015 – shortly after the opening of a similar facility in Montana.

:: A complex of services targeting children in CONFLICT WITH THE LAW was in Sliven. The UNICEF-supported "Children and Youth Zone" includes a Center for intensive socio-educational support, an Observed and a Transitional Home. The model was developed to support the reform of the JUVENILE JUSTICE system and to ensure a SECOND CHANCE for every child and young person. To guarantee children’s right to access fair and timely justice and due to the need to create ALTERNATIVES TO DEPRIVATION OF LIBERTY, in 2015 UNICEF in Bulgaria signed agreements with the General Prosecutor’s Office and the National Institute of Justice. As a result, over 100 MAGISTRATES WERE TRAINED on how to better protect the rights of children in Bulgaria.

:: We also supported the National Network for Children and partnered with the civil sector in Bulgaria, and 2 delegations from Armenia and Ukraine came to LEARN from the experience of UNICEF and partners.

Such experience was a national survey that showed that one in five young people between 15 and 24 years old in Bulgaria are NEETs – neither in employment, education or training. This finding generated wide media coverage, and huge political and public interest – and INFLUENCED THE MEASURES taken by the authorities.

2015 was also the year and the WORLD’S LARGEST LESSON: 17 000 PUPILS in over 800 CLASSROOMS across Bulgaria joined 500 MILLION children and young people from around the world to learn how to build by 2030 a future of PEACE / PROSPERITY / EQUITY. Together with its partners, UNICEF aims to engage more girls and boys in the next 15 years in order to fulfill the SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS, adopted by the UN in September 2015. Because today’s children are the FIRST GENERATION that has a real chance to eradicate POVERTY, HUNGER, VIOLENCE - and the LAST GENERATION that has the opportunity to save Earth from CLIMATE CHANGE. And UNICEF will help them!

:: All of these RESULTS FOR CHILDREN wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our pledge donors and strategic corporate partners. Over 50 000 BENEFACTORS and dozens of companies, their customers and employees believed that - UNITED around one MISSION - we can change the future for many children in Bulgaria and abroad. Our achievements for children are YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS. THANK YOU from the bottom of our heart for standing next to us in this mission!

About UNICEF:    
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

For more information:   
Jacklin Tzocheva, Communication Officer, UNICEF Bulgaria  
Tel: 02/9696208, E-mail: jtzocheva@unicef.org 

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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone. And we never give up.