August 2019

by Ulrike Gansen

Ulli and Lore enjoying the view of Vlahi village

I am in Sofia. I meet two young women from Belgium and Spain for a breakfast together. We are in a really nice caf? with a beautiful, shady backyard, carpets at the wall and the aromatic smell of freshly brewed coffee in the air. How did this happen? What am I doing here? I didn’t know both of them before. And now we are chatting, laughing – and sharing our expectations about our first workcamp. For all of us, it would be our first one. Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect. But we came all to Bulgaria to volunteer in a workcamp on gender equality with people we don’t know in a place we don’t know.

However – we made it to Vlahi, a small, remote village in the Pirin mountains with only 8 human habitants (and some dogs, cats and a lot of goats). For one week, we lived in the Vlahi Nature School – a lovely building made from only natural materials. We shared one big bedroom, used compost toilets and enjoyed refreshing cold showers.

But who is “we”? We were three international volunteers, three coordinators from Bulgaria and Poland and four young women from rural Bulgaria. And although I didn’t know anybody before, I felt quickly almost like home.

During one week, we did workshops on gender roles, gender stereotypes, beauty images and self-love. Although we all were from different countries and cultural backgrounds, we experienced the same expectations and obligations that are connected to being a woman. We hiked, we camped in the wild, we set a fire, laughed and discussed.

Even though the time period we spent together was short, we had language barriers and not everything ended up as planned, the workcamp gave me a lot of valuable insights in the intercultural perspectives of feminism and gender equality. I met wonderful human beings (and animals), challenged myself by adapting a really basic lifestyle, enjoyed the Bulgarian wilderness and night sky and reawakened my love for camping! Thank you really much!

 Posted by Shirin at 14:27 Volunteer activities Comments Off on “Girls and the wild”-Workcamp in Bulgaria

It all started with the Gendered realities project and the call for local activities on gender equality topic by SCI.

The team of three girls Bea from Poland, Vili and Shirin from Bulgaria, who already had organized two workcamps on women empowerment in a small village in Lukovit region in Bulgaria (in 2017 and 2018) embraced the idea to continue their doing in the summer of 2019. They went bold, driven by the need to focus on the potential of the local young girls who they met in the previous years. Their idea was to go out in the nature, meet international volunteers with these girls and challenge the gender roles that are still very present in their own communities. The idea was approved and on 17th of August the team, together with three volunteers from Spain, Belgium and Germany met with 4 young girls from the region of Lukovit. They took the bus from Sofia to Kresna from where the most popular local driver with a minivan suitable for the broken road took them to the distant Vlahi village (population of 8 people).

The accommodation was in Vlahi Nature School a building restored only by natural materials and it provided big kitchen area, nice beds, compost toilets, outside showers with water heated by solar panels, amazing mountain views and a sky full of stars. First touch with the nature was already there! The program was intense from the first meeting, because there were only 7 days to spend together. The coordinators team was very lucky to have volunteers who came prepared with workshops on body image, beauty standards, self love, gender re-presentation in school, media, different job opportunities. The non-formal methods of barometer, taking a step forward, drawing, magazines and photos from internet lead to deeper discussions and sharing of personal stories. This has been the most challenging part for everyone because translation from English to Bulgarian and vice versa were needed for everyone to take part and understand each other’s backgrounds.

After two days of intensive workshops it was time to prepare for the wild camping. It started with watching the movie Wild and preparing the list of things needed for the campsite. Then there was time for the quest to find the best spot to set up the camping. During the hike the amazing sights of Pirin mountain appeared even closer and everyone felt excited of what else is coming. When the perfect spot with flat ground and river nearby appeared, the decision has been made, the group went back to the school for a short rest and packing for the camping part of the week. Workshops on how to open a tent were made, together with building a small table from wood and stones. In the morning some of the girls shared they did not feel very comfortable spending the night in tents, so the group had a session for midterm evaluation and everyone shared if their expectations were met so far. The best outcome of this discussion has been the decision to never give up after the first time, to check what and how it can be improved and at least try one more time (camping or in life situations). The rest of the camping experience has been dedicated to outside games for bonding, first aid in case of emergency, starting a fire, cooking, taking care for each others needs and create a comfort in the wilderness.

The last two days were used for an evening of the talents and cultures, some free time hiking to the nearest waterfall and personal and group reflections, together with evaluation of the overall experience. During this time the moto of the workcamp has been decided and it corresponds to the full experience of every person who took part in it, considering the low and the high moments of it.

With pride we share it with you – At least I tried!

This story might not sound to you as a regular workcamp as we know it in SCI, but it was an effort that the three girls took very boldly and executed successfully, mixing different activities and programs that they know. Lessons are learned, eyes have been opened and fingers are crossed for more action on Gender equality and women empowerment in the future!

All this has been accomplished with the financial support of

And with the support of local organisations

 Posted by Shirin at 15:49 Volunteer activities Comments Off on At least I tried! – our workcamp in the wild

Viktoria Petrova

Between 24th May and 4th June three participants represented Bulgaria in the ‘Non- formal tools for immigration youth workers’ seminar facilitated by the D.G.T Association. The project took place in Romania and included people from Romania, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Turkey and Bulgaria.

The overall aim of the seminar was to help participants to develop their ability to use non- formal methods within their work with migrants. Therefore, after the teambuilding activities, the group benefited from receiving a training on the topic. They had the chance to observe how their new theoretical knowledge applies to real situations in Romania. This was ensured through two main steps. Firstly, the program included guest speakers from UNHCR Romania. The sessions with them were extremely interesting and useful for understanding some of the challenges that occur along the way of the big organizations that work with migrants. Secondly, the facilitators of the seminar organized two field visits of local non-governmental organizations in Bucharest were participants attended presentations and had the chance to ask questions. This was once again useful for seeing the current situation from different angles.

As the seminar was advancing, participants were divided into groups and were expected to develop their own ideas of non- formal workshop. This process included brainstorming, planning and eventually presenting those workshops within the whole group. The delivered workshops included activities such as Human Book, Photo Library and different educational activities. This process consisted of a lot of fun, teamwork and constructive feedback.

Least but not last, alongside the serious work, the participants enjoyed a lot of group activities. The most memorable ones include the daytrip to Brasov, as well as, the cultural nights which allowed everyone to familiarize themselves with the cultures and… the food of all the participating countries. Other very interesting activities were preparing a barbeque for the whole group and a wine-tasting session, which everyone found very impressive. Overall, the seminar that took place in Romania resulted in learning a lot, developing workshop ideas and creating some amazing memories and friendships.

 Posted by Shirin at 11:10 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Training on migration in Romania

Kei Morikawa

Добър ден! I am Kei Morikawa from Japan. I would like to share a great experience in Romania.

 I joined a training named “Non-Formal Tools for Immigration Youth Workers” at Casa Seciu in Prahova in Romania, from 24th of May to 4th of June. I was one of three participants from Bulgaria, sent by CVS – Bulgaria. There were also participants from Turkey, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Italy and Romania.

 The aim of this training organized by Romanian Youth organization D.G.T. (Do Great Things) was to provide participants with professional competences regarding the topics of migrants/refugees, social inclusion and cultural dialog. This is also a reason why I participated the training. I wanted to get more knowledge and skills to work with immigrants and refugee because I used to a member of a volunteer program “The refugee Project” organized by two NGOs including CVS – Bulgaria and had worked with refugees, especially children. 

 In the 10 days, we were always together and have worked on many topics hard. I introduce some activities.

 First, before each activity, we started with a game as energizer, distributing potatoes, imitating dancing, just admiring someone… they might not have nothing to do with this topic but I think we were able to focus on following main activities more thanks to these energizers. They are also useful to get people to get closer, especially for those who are from different cultures. 

 Secondly, we discussed controversial issues which Rodica Novac, one of our trainers, gave us. The one was “how should we manage a Mosque which has been built by immigrants and caused some problems”. The other was about an amendment of the law regarding wearing a helmet during ride on a bicycle, taking account of people who wear Turban because of their religion. We worked on these discussions by being given each role such as citizen, immigrants, politician and chairman. They were lively and we conducted each role. On the other hand, I realized again how difficult dealing with integration is. While we have to protect rights of minorities, we also need to respect local rules and cultures. Because there are different perspectives on one thing, if we took one, we would have problems on the others. Anyway, it is important to think things from different views.

 Next, we were able to hear from experts. We visited two NGOs: ARCA, helping refugees with the integration to their societies and AIDRom, offering refugees accommodations.

We also invited representatives from UNHCR Romania. We learned there are abuse against human rights, discriminations and violents. I still remember words from a representative. What she said is “We have no obligation to help refugees but we have moral, humanity, responsibility, value..” Yes, exactly we can’t force anyone to help them but we all came in Romania to learn the way to help them. I felt something like human nature and what mean to be a person from her words.

Lastly, we finished the training with testing workshops. First, we suggested as many workshops as possible by brainstorming. Afterwards, we narrowed them down to 6. We made groups, tested each workshop and evaluated. “Photo Voice workshop” was very interesting for me. We took photos which express what integration means.

I especially learned two things through this seminar.

 One is about merits of non-formal tool and education. I wouldn’t say which is the better between formal and non-formal but make sure non-formal method gives people positiveness and subjectivity to think more. I think this is an important attitude on integration. As I said, it also makes it easier to get along with people. When you introduce yourself, you would probably say your name, nationality, age, profession and so on. However, what we did was that we introduced each name and one funny movement and tried to memorize them first. This activity generated a very good atmosphere, even though we didn’t know each other much at that time. I felt like we already build good relationships.  I think that’s how we can get rid of some barriers when you meet anyone you don’t know and make a good mood when we talk more afterwards.

 The other thing is that I was impressed how EU is trying to tackle big issues about refugee and immigration as a group. As you know EU has a huge economical power. This seminar was funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union so I didn’t pay anything for joining this training. You can find more programs in different fields all over Europa from Erasmus+. That’s why Experts can provide more chances with people and we can join them even for free. Furthermore, as I experienced, we are able to meet many nationalities and exchange new knowledge through projects of Erasmus+. I think this is quite important, especially for this issues, because we accept people from different cultures. It would make it easier to find solutions. EU is doing in the way. On the other hand, the situation in Japan looks far from that so I think we have many things to learn from EU.

 Other than these activities, we did many activities: role play of what happen at border, cultural night, NGO fair, exploring a nice town Brasov, dairy evaluation …

 Thank CVS – Bulgaria and D.G.T for giving me a great opportunity and thank all participants for many memories. I could not ask for more!!!

 Posted by Shirin at 10:52 Volunteer activities Comments Off on A Great experience in Romania

Elitsa Bozhkova

The seminar I took part in “Non-Formal Tools for Immigration Youth Workers” was held in Romania, at Casa Seciu in Prahova county, near Ploiesti from May 24 till June 4, 2019. We were three participants from Bulgaria, representing CVS-Bulgaria. There were also participants representing Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Turkey and the host country – Romania.

The seminar was very well-organized with role-plays, debates and different tools of non-formal education so that to get a better idea of the migrants’ situation and try to walk in their shoes. Gradually we got introduced to specific terms and we made presentations about the migrant situation in our own countries in order to get a better understanding of our realities as well. Apart from the organizers from the Romanian Youth organization D.G.T. (Do Great Things), there was an invited expert in immigration, Rodica Novac, who led us most of the time introducing us to the topic and taking part with us in the activities, including the energizers we enjoyed a lot.  There was also a day session with invited experts from UNHCR Romania who gave practical input to the seminar with concrete examples from their work.

Among the most useful activities, from my point of view, was the study trip to two NGOs in Bucharest where we saw into practice what has been talked about and could compare it to our own countries.  I admired the initiative at ARCA where they are trying to provide refugees with job opportunities. There was a database that, by using google translator, was giving access to job offers in various languages so that to make the offers easy to reach by foreigners. By getting work chances refugees can integrate to society and feel useful and better accepted. The AIDRom supports families by providing them with accommodation facilities and helps the better integration of children to school. The environment was extremely hospitable so that to make them feel at home.  

Apart from the study visits we had a secret trip to Brasov, a town in Transylvania where we had the chance to see a place, inhabited initially by Germans from Saxony and how it developed throughout time which was very useful for our purpose and the topic of immigration. The organizers had prepared a list of places of interest to discover so that to get to know the place better. We also tried some traditional food. Coming to this point, I would like to underline there were three cultural nights during the seminar as there were seven participating countries so that to get better idea of the typical food, customs, information and traditional dances of each country. Concerning the location of the event, Casa Seciu is in the countryside on the Wine Route and the landscape was very beautiful with vineyards and a nice view from the hills towards Ploiesti. The accommodation was in double or triple en-suite rooms and an apartment with two single and two double rooms with shared bathroom. The place is used for weddings and different celebrations and we had a very quiet and relaxing atmosphere for our activities with outdoor spaces where we sometimes had lunch or dinner, apart from the coffee breaks and a barbecue and wine testing we enjoyed a lot.

The last part of the seminar was dedicated to the production of workshops according to our interests in order to come out with methods for migrants’ integration. We chose six topics which we developed and tested. Among those I enjoyed most were the topics related to art and education. The ones about finding a job – writing a motivation letter and tips for a successful interview were very useful too.

Last but not least I would like to thank the organizers: Raul Dragan, Andrei Daicer and Adrian Cocardan as well as all the participants who made this experience unforgettable!

 Posted by Shirin at 10:06 Volunteer activities Comments Off on An Unforgettable Experience

Background of the project

“From ME to WE” is a 7 days Youth Exchange, that will take place in Zebegeny, Budapest, Hungary from 18-25 August 2019!

The youth exchange will bring together 20 participants from 4 countries for 7 days, in which they will develop skills and gain competences to make their voice heard by the tools of art and design.

The participants will work in groups, sharing their ideas and views, learning methods of design thinking,  and creating a project together in the topic of Diversity. Would you like to learn about “design thinking” in a practical way? What kind of community would you create around yourself? Are you interested in creativity and design? Are you interested in the topic of migration or have a migrant background yourself? Join us to create a community in FROM ME TO WE – DESIGNING COMMUNITY.

You can find videos from the previous years here and here

The Exchange 

The main objective of the exchange is to provide a platform for young people, coming from very different background for learning through creativity and art, and gaining new skills to share their meaningful message by the tools of creativity and design.

The target group of this exchange is unique: the participants are partly young refugees or migrants living in Europe, and partly youth, who are citizens of a European or an Eastern Partnership country. The exchange is based mainly on practical methods – creating together artistic and design products while discussing cultural diversity of Europe, different realities in different countries providing a safe environment for intercultural exchange. 

The objectives:

  • using design thinking and creative approach
  • improving self-expression, self-representation, problem-solving
  • empowering young migrants and refugees to have better access to the European society
  • encouraging participants to take responsibilities, to make decisions, to unleash their talents and help them to gain self-confidence
  • developing a critical view of social issues in Europe, drawing their own conclusions based on personal encounters and experiences instead

Financial conditions

All essential costs of the program in Hungary (including food, travel costs, accommodation) will be covered through a project. MAximum travel costs for Bulgarian participants is 270 EUR.

The accommodation is at an old art campsite, with wooden bungalows – very simple accommodation in an amazing environment.


If you are 18-25 years old and live in Bulgaria and you think this opportunity is for you, join us and fill in the application form! 

In addition to the application form, please send us a motivation letter (in English) to our email:

Deadline for submission: 10th of July 2019


If you have any questions regarding the project and your application, don’t hesitate to contact us at Please write your e-mails in English, because our english speaking volunteer from Portugal – Hugo will read your questions and support you in the process.

We are looking forward to receive your application!

 Posted by Shirin at 13:33 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Call for participants at “From ME to WE” – Youth Exchange

Background of the project

Purple Glasses is a 8 days Youth Exchange that will take place in Illora, Granada, Spain from 11th to 19th of July.

The objective of this project is to reach a better understanding of the situation of women in the participating countries and the challenges that they face.

The Exchange 

Lead to dialogue, exchange of opinions, debate and possibly, changing people’s views.

Main objectives:

  • Increase the awareness of young people and make them reflect on the roles and status of women and men
  • Develop communication skills, cooperation and teamwork
  • Analyze and discuss the cases of gender inequality existing in different cultures within Europe
  • Creation of concrete tools to fight against gender inequality in our countries of origin Show the importance of language, terminology and the need to acquire critical thinking based on quality information

The exchange will use a non-formal education methodology, combined to group and individual work, practical exercises, debriefing sessions.

Please read the info pack to additional information.

Financial conditions

All essential costs of the program in Spain (including food, travel costs, accommodation) will be covered through a project.

Max travel cost for Bulgaria is 360€.


If you think this opportunity is for you, please send us an e-mail with your CV and motivation letter answering the question “How are you involved in the topic? How are you active/plan to be active?”

Deadline: 20th of June


If you have any questions regarding the project and your application, don’t hesitate to contact us at

We are looking forward to receive your application!

 Posted by Shirin at 13:24 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Call Purple Glasses – Join our Youth Exchange!

We are pleased to announce a series of 4 workshops for anyone interested in understanding and applying the Montessori principles in their classroom!

13th of April

The first workshop will focus on Maths. You will be introduced to some of the Montessori practical life and sensorial activities which give indirect preparations for math. Then, we will continue with some math materials that you can easily make and use in your classroom. Montessori uses concrete materials to introduce abstract concepts and give a sequential understanding of mathematical concepts.

11th of May

The second workshop will be on Science. In this workshop, you will be able to select themes for your lessons from these different disciplines : astronomy, botany, chemistry, physics, and zoology and build a plan around them with some Montessori inspired activities that you can find online. 

15th of June

The third workshop will be on Geography. During this workshop, you will be introduced to some Montessori inspired activities. The Montessori Geography curriculum is two-fold: physical and cultural geography. Physical geography discusses the formation of the universe, the creation of the earth, and all its physical properties. Cultural geography is the study of human society and culture.

13th of July

The forth workshop will be on Language. During this workshop, we will see that literacy and language should be incorporated in all aspects of the classroom. Teaching language as a separate subject could make it harder for the children to retain. We will see how vocabulary development and spelling practice is built into the whole curriculum.

Each session will last 4 hours , from 1pm to 5 pm, and will be carried out in English.

Each group will be of maximum 15 attendees.

The trainings will be held at the CVS-Bulgaria office in ul. “Tsaribrodska” 59. 

The workshops will be presented by Stephanie. She has a Master in Education from The Open University and is Montessori trained. She is especially interested in teaching children with learning difficulties. She worked as a Montessori teacher and later as a directress in England, China, Laos and Portugal. She volunteered with refugees for one year teaching Maths and Science to children, she also worked for Caritas in Ready for School with Roma kids. She is now volunteering in a puppy shelter in Sofia.

Enroll for the workshops here.

 Posted by Shirin at 21:10 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Workshops on Montessori principles

Background of the project

“Non-formal tools for immigration youth workers” is a 10 days seminar that will take place in Bolde?ti-Sc?eni, Romania, from 24th of May to 4th of June.

The seminar will bring together participants from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Turkey.

The project will focus in providing to the participants knowledge and skills to supporting better the integration of the immigrants and refugees in their own countries.

“Non-formal tools for immigration youth workers” is organised by D.G.T. association and here you can read the detailed information.

Participant’s profile

All the participants for this project must meet the following criteria.

– Be 18 years old or older

– Have a high interest in social integration of immigrants/refugees

– Be able to work and communicate easily in English

We have preference for youth workers who are involved with social educational and cultural voluntary activities and some experience with deal with immigrants/refugees.

Financial conditions

All essential costs of the program in Romania (including food, travel costs, accommodation and training) will be covered through a project grant by Erasmus+.

Max travel cost for Bulgaria is 180€ and we recommend teh Bulgarian participants to use eco friendly transport, e.g. a bus.


If you think this opportunity is for you, please click the link below, fill in the application form and press submit.

Deadline for applying is 04.04.2019A


If you have any questions regarding the project and your application, don’t hesitate to contact us at

We are looking forward to receive your application!

 Posted by Shirin at 15:14 Volunteer activities Comments Off on Training “Non-formal tools for immigration youth workers”

In the last 10 years some more wonderful people are included in the International Sofia Film Festival. These are the volunteers from CVS – Bulgaria! and at this anniversary year they are 120 people 🙂

What does it mean to be in the Volunteer Circle? For all – the team of the festival and CVS – Bulgaria (, it is a pleasure, continuity and eagerness to learn in an informal and creative environment. Learning by watching quality movies. Learning among like minded people. Learning from people with different backgrounds. Learning how a big and important event is organised and what is needed to accomplish it with style, good vibes and respectfully with thought to others. Volunteering is very responsible and satisfying task.

Similar are the activities and the values ??of CVS – Bulgaria and beyond the festival. They spread the idea of ??peace, understanding and solidarity among people. They share a desire for equal human rights and work on achieving it by organizing trainings, sending volunteers abroad, welcoming volunteers from other countries in Bulgaria, both long-term and short-term. The palette of the topics is full of variety and everyone can get involved!

This year there is another great connection between the values ??of CVS – Bulgaria and the International Sofia Film Festival, namely the screenings included in the specific categories for “Human Rights” and “Cinema and Sex”. These are the focus topics in recent years, on which the Association is working tirelessly on local and international level.

The Migration topic is represented in “The Refugee Project” where weekly volunteers hold workshops with children and adults at the reception centers in Ovcha Kupel, Voenna Rampa and Vrazhdebna. Organize and accompany groups for excursions in the city center of Sofia and in the country. They make voluntary efforts to respect the dignity of people in need and at the same time to learn from each other about useful and practical things. The project team is currently working on developing a platform to deconstruct hate speech and unreliable rumors about refugees and migrants.

The issue of equal rights, no matter of gender, and in particular working on empowering women in rural areas, is the other big topic that CVS – Bulgaria is paying attention in the last two years. The idea of ??a international volunteer camp in a small village in the municipality of Lukovit, where young women and girls live in a highly patriarchal society, comes from one volunteer. So with a small budget and a great heart, together they manage to develop something awesome and to discover the potential of women in the village; show young girls how to seek lifelong learning opportunities and develop and change the environment in which they live in.

In addition this year the volunteers are not only the face of the festival, but they have the chance to recommend a movie they liked. We share it with you in order to help you choose amongst the rich program of quality films.

Volunteering is a teamwork and as mentioned above, everyone can get involved. For this, the volunteers with intellectual challenges from the Maria’s World Foundation have been enthusiastically applying for the 4th consecutive year and are greeting you with a smile in front of the cinemas. Together with them we close the circle of volunteer diversity in this year’s International Sofia Film Festival!

With CVS – Bulgaria, every idea from ??a spark can become a big and important project! This is how we started 10 years ago and swirled an incredibly colourful hurricane between volunteering and cinema, new friendships, common values, positive mood and happiness!

 Posted by Shirin at 15:35 Volunteer activities Comments Off on VOLUNTEERING AND CINEMA