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Bulgaria and North Macedonia together to support and develop the Health Mediators program

Group photoBlagoevgrad, October 7-9, 2019

Study visit of health mediators, NGO representatives and state institutions from the Republic of North Macedonia took place in October 7-9 in Blagoevgrad. The Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA) with the support of the National Network of Health Mediators (NNHM) hosted the three days visit and gave an opportunity for the representatives of HERA – Health Education and Research Association, health mediators from Skopje and Prilep and the Ministry of Health of our neighbor country to understand in details how in years was institutionalized and functions the system of health mediation in Bulgaria. Field visit to the Roma neighborhood Predel Mahala was included in the programme and the guests could see how the work of health mediators Antoaneta Eftimova and Katya Kirilova is going on everyday basis – with institutions, as well with people who need and receive their support.

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Romeo and Juliet from Kosharnik district

ActorsMSD LogoMontana, September 12, 2019

The Shakespeare and Servantes tour around the Roma neighborhoods of Bulgaria went to the Kosharnik district of Montana. Talented and enthusiastic local children, selected by the Roma actress Natalia Tzekova presented fragments of the drama “Romeo and Juliet” from a newer angle and with adequate health messages. The aim of the social theatre is with the means of art to inform the public in a comprehensible manner about the harm of early marriages and early school drop outs, the benefits of contraception, the importance of prevention of sexually transmitted infections. The messages target young people as well as their parents, some of which joined the scenes to demonstrate their support for what their children are saying. With his monologue about the Roma Don Quixote Valeri Lekov, also part of the production team, explained some of the community specificities. Between the sketches there were “real life” scenes – a woman from the community visits a doctor who explains the benefits of contraception and debunks some “fake news” about contraceptive methods – all this with a lot of humour and highly appreciated by the audience.

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BFPA kicks off a new two-year project “I Want to Know”

Positive LogoViiV LogoSofia, August 23, 2019

With an official green light on August 23, as of Sep 1st BFPA starts activities on a new project – “I WANT TO KNOW – User friendly access to HIV and STI counseling and testing for Roma youth from vulnerable communities”, supported by ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Programme via CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) UK. The project’s duration is 2 years, during which BFPA will provide voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) with a focus on young Roma men (but not excluding women as well) from poor and marginalized districts through its coordinators in the five BFPA branches in Bulgaria - Pleven, Stara Zagora, Plovdiv, Russe and Sofia. Activities will begin with a kick-off meeting and VCT training for the service providers, in parallel with informing and awareness raising by elaboration of info materials, disseminated in the targeted communities by one of the closest and dearest BFPA partners – Health Mediators.

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Social and health messages in Roma neighbourhoods through theatre

MSD logoActorsSofia, July 31, 2019

On the last day of July the Roma neighbourhood Fakulteta in Sofia was visited by William Shakespeare and Miguel de Servantes. We started with the best – Romeo and Juliet and Don Quixote. The Roma actress Natalia Tzekova staged a funny and educational performance with the participation of talented children and youth from the neighborhood in which the art was intertwined with social and health related messages. Romeo and Juliet demonstrated the benefits of family planning, contraception and health education and spoke in verse about the harm of school dropout, early marriages and children having children. The participants performed short sketches which contained the same messages, debunked myths and demonstrated how powerful personal example is. Don Quixote explained some of the community specificities which started a short discussion on stage who should take example from whom about health and health prevention. In between sketches and play scenes the participants shared their own personal stories about health and family planning. At the end of the play as a recap of what was presented they raised a few banners with messages on the same topic”: “I have dreams and goals”, “I am not an incubator for babies”, “Ask – someone will tell you”. The audience appreciated the messages and the element of humor in the sketches and play scenes.

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The alumni of the first Health Education Academy graduated successfully

Group photoSofia, June 17, 2019

Monday, June 17th. Our first alumni class of the Sofia Health Education Academy demonstrated their skills and knowledge in front of classmates, teachers, school directors, school psychologists, parents and supporting institutions. The solemn event took place in the Events Hall at 1st High school, Sofia. The young people from 1st, 144th, 119th schools, 1st ELS and the Professional School of Textile and Fashion Design split into three teams after “drawing straws” and presented the topics “Transformations During Puberty”, “Contraception and STIs” and “Prevention of addictions”. We are very glad that our video on puberty was part of the “fun”. Otherwise the presentations pushed the audience to participate actively. The culmination was a surprise for all – we were visited by the TV show “Masters of the air” who enhanced the effect of the challenge.

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BFPA supports parents' and teachers’ communities in Pasarel in their search for the right communication channels with children and adolescents

Pasarel, June 11, 2022

The primary school in the village of Pasarel hosted a meeting between parents, teachers and representatives of the Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA) Dr. Rada Stamenkova and Ralitsa Zgalevska on Saturday, June 11, 2022. The director Ivaylo Kiskinov and the school psychologist Nadezhda Dedova, on whose initiative the event took place, were also at the vivid discussion, planned as a two-hour but prolonged three-hours without break - there were many questions, long answers, shared opinions, personal stories, observations and experience exchanged. It was about how to talk with children for growing up before they reach puberty, how to prepare them for the changes ahead, how to stay calm and confident as they go through the challenges of this specific and difficult age; how to stay in touch with them without avoiding awkward questions and at the same time not manipulating the information they receive, together with enhancing the ability to identify fake news on Internet.

 
The information campaign on our project "Migration - Myths and Reality" has started

Sofia, May 20, Trun, May 25, Breznik, May 26, 2022

Friday, May 20, Filipovtsi neighborhood. The consortium of the three well-known in the public space organizations NNHM-BFPA-EMHPF. or as we call each other "our extended team" - a network of mediators, family planning and health problems of minorities, launched the information campaign of the project of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The introductory event was accompanied by the exhibition "Opening the Door", which also visited the Parliament on April 8. Pavlina Filipova from the BFPA team introduced the participants to the topic of human trafficking. In addition to people from the community, the meeting was attended by representatives of the municipality of Lyulin, MLSP and other institutions. Then we continued - Wednesday in Trun, Thursday in Breznik.
May 25, 2022, Wednesday, Trun. The meeting took place at the Giurgia Pinjurova Community Centre with the assistance of health mediators Anton Anachkov and Dimitar Milanov. The consortium was represented by expert trainers Ventsislav Kirkov, Pavlina Filiopva and Radosveta Stamenkova, and IOM - by Teodora Nikolova and Yavor Lilov. Apart from representatives of the community, this first meeting for the settlement was attended by representatives of the municipality, the CPD, educational institutions, the police and other partners - 4 men and 32 women participated, a total of 36 people. The main topics covered were: Migration and Reality - a field study presented by Ventsislav Kirkov, Communication Strategy and Information Campaign presented by Radosveta Stamenkova, and Trafficking in Human Beings for Labor Exploitation, presented by Pavlina Filipova. An interesting discussion took place, and the representatives of the Consortium and IOM provoked it further with the shown short animated and documentary films. The main countries of interest in Trun are Spain and the Czech Republic, although during the discussion it became clear that the mother of one of the participants was a victim of labor exploitation in Sweden in the scandal surrounding blueberry pickers left to starve for weeks in the wilderness. The idea for the next meeting is on August 1 - until then the people from the neighborhood are in the woods picking herbs and mushrooms. Materials on the project were distributed.

 
Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the MSD for Mothers program

Sofia, May 19, 2022

May 19, 2022, Thursday. A very important and good day for BFPA - we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the program "MSD for mothers" - an example of a truly socially responsible business. As our partners and supporters know, we are working on two projects from this program - the recently successfully completed and focused at the Roma community "My body, my rights", implemented in Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania, and the currently gaining speed "Youth voices, youth choices", implemented in Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Northern Macedonia and focuses on young people, Covid and access to health services.
The day started in the Fakulteta neighborhood - there representatives of the global and Bulgarian office of MSD met with project coordinators from Montana, Sofia, Yambol, with health mediators from around the country and people from the Roma community in the neighborhood. There was a great discussion about the benefits of fieldwork, vaccine prophylaxis, cervical cancer prevention, self-help groups and community capacity building. The afternoon was in a completely different world - in the East Hall in the Parliament, together with key people from the communities we work for, we presented to the institutions the results and philosophy of the programs we implement.

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