The team of Open Spaces Association was selected to implement a mentoring program in the town of Harmanli. The Open Spaces project was selected as a mentor project aimed at empowering leaders from the refugee and migrant communities.
The program was implemented in the period 7 March – 20 June 2022 as part of the project of Mission Wings Foundation – “Regional model for empowerment of vulnerable refugees and migrants seeking protection in the country” funded by the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014 – 2021.
The aim of the program was to empower a group of refugees and migrants by providing them with mentorship in devising and creating community initiatives for the benefit of other vulnerable migrants and refugees from the Harmanli camp.
Our program was implemented in several stages:
- Three days of interactive training with 12 Syiran people who have sought international protection in our country. During the training, ideas emerged on how they can be helpful to others and the community while waiting for their asylum proceedings to be completed: through sporting activities, language courses, computer and painting courses, educational trips for children, community culinary events were just some of the projects designed by the amazing women and men who had decided to volunteer in the program.
- Mentoring support in the preparation and implementation of initiatives. Over the course of three months, through the trainings and regular mentoring support of Genika Baicheva and Vanya Boneva, the participants were able to implement four volunteer initiatives in support of the refugee community: on the occasion of the Ramadan Bayram holiday on May 2, one of the groups managed to make 7 full boxes of incredibly delicious cookies, which they packaged and gave to their compatriots and staff from the refugee center in Harmanli. The second group held a series of painting workshops for adults and youth. A third group formed regular meetings based on a program designed specifically to work through traumatic experiences and develop social skills for children who have experienced war at the refugee center. In parallel, volunteers from the fourth group organized daily sports activities for the children and women of the camp.
- Final training of the group and realization of an exhibition in the city center of Harmanli. The aim of the exhibition was to introduce the citizens to the stories of the many otherwise anonymous residents of the refugee camp.
“These art classes are like sunshine in the daily life in the camp! It’s a really great chance for the people who participate to have a connection with art and beauty!” says Vanya Boneva, a trainer and mentor in the program.