Volunteering is a great way to broaden your horizons, see the world and improve the lives of others.
However, many volunteering opportunities involve working with children or disadvantaged families and because this is very specialised work, the screening programmes involved in applying may sometimes be rigorous.
If you have no idea what volunteering in Bulgaria might involve but are open to the idea of working to improve the lives of children or disadvantaged young people, then you will need to learn a little about the country and what travelling there entails.
Bulgaria has some beautiful scenery and a fascinating culture but has been troubled economically in the recent past and is often in need of the help of others who have the free time and the inclination to assist.
Volunteering is a very special and memorable experience for anyone who decides to go for it and most people take away precious memories from their time as a volunteer.
Why does Bulgaria Need Volunteers?
Although Bulgaria has been a member of the EU for some time, it still remains one of the poorest countries in the Balkans. The levels of child poverty are worrying and many children are living in unsuitable conditions.
Bulgarian nationals who are lucky enough to have employment work long hours and the idea of volunteering is not a practical one for many.
How Can I Help?
There are many struggling children’s homes in Bulgaria where staff have to work long and hard to provide the basics of care. This often means that playing games and chatting fall low on their to-do list.
As a volunteer in a children’s home in Bulgaria, you can provide some relief to the hard-pressed staff and most importantly some fun and games and a friendly ear to the children.
It does not matter if you are not a trained child care worker or if you do not have a background in education, you will still have something valuable to offer as long as you are willing and friendly.
What Might a Typical Day Volunteering in a Children’s Home Entail?
Many children’s homes in Bulgaria are struggling to manage the property as much as anything else and you might find yourself picking up a paintbrush and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint or tidying gardens and accommodation.
Of course, the main focus will always be the children and a volunteer could be asked to take a group of children out for a walk into the city or local parks in order for them to experience the environment and world around them.
If you are helping with older children or teenagers, you may simply be asked to befriend them and to spend time over a cup of coffee and perhaps a television show.
Crafts and art workshops are always much in demand and if you can play a musical instrument then having a sing-song with children and staff is a popular activity.
Where do Volunteers Sleep?
Most volunteer programmes are organised so that basic accommodation is provided for participants and you will usually be in shared dorms or rooms close to the organisation where you are placed.
Accommodation is often simple and basic but can be fun too; you will meet people from many backgrounds and walks of life.
Some people make lifelong friends whilst volunteering and it is certainly a great way to meet new contacts and even learn a new language.
Becoming a volunteer in Bulgaria is a great way to grow as a person, to see a different way of life and to share some of the gifts which your own lifestyle has afforded you.
An education and a comfortable life are precious things and many do not have the chance to enjoy them.
Many volunteers find that giving some time and care to those less fortunate is more rewarding than the most glamorous of holidays and some volunteers return again and again to re-live and enjoy time in Bulgaria.