Peek into the world of our transition home in Sofia through the lense of our Bulgaria Director, Vicky Rough.
In July 2012, the summer was heating up in Eastern Europe. The sun was shining and usually most Bulgarians are thinking about their upcoming vacation to the Black Sea. But in sweltering Sofia, The A21 Campaign staff was working hard to plan, shop, and build furniture for the opening of the A21 Transition Home.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2013, and our victim assistance programs are in full swing, with survivors completing our programs, finding their footing, and moving on to full independence.
One amazing woman Vesy, moved into our transition home after returning to Bulgaria from a western European country. She had lost all hope of ever being able to live well or independently. Her trafficking experience had beaten her down and stolen from her all hope for her future.
Vesy moved in to the A21 Transition Home and took advantage of everything we have to offer: life-building programs, such as budgeting, life skills, and anger management courses. Also regular visits to a counselor, medical assistance, dental assistance, and job seeking advice.
After a few months she felt ready to move on to the next stage in her life. Vesy moved out of the home and with the help of A21 staff, found an apartment she could rent. She now lives fully financially independent. She makes money from various cleaning jobs and pays all her own rent and bills! Something she never believed she could ever do. She is now motivated to help others, and in her spare time does volunteer work for A21. Her hope has been restored, and she is committed to helping others in the same way.
Bulgaria is considered a source country when it comes to human trafficking. A huge number of men, women, and children are trafficked each year. Bulgaria is the poorest country in the European Union, has high illiteracy rates, and a very high unemployment rate. Whether it be labor trafficking or sexual exploitation, many in Bulgaria are vulnerable.
To this end, The A21 Campaign Bulgaria has many activities aimed at preventing people from being trafficked and assisting victims who have been trafficked.
We have schools programs, educating young people on how to keep themselves safe.
The Freedom Challenge will be starting in Sofia, Bulgaria on October 6th, and the team has been hitting the streets raising awareness of the event and educating the public about human trafficking.
We partner with other NGOs, businesses, and government agencies to raise awareness, prevent trafficking, and protect victims. Below is Bulgaria Country Director Nick Rough (second from left) at a press conference with some of our partners.
Thanks to our supporters, we are currently caring for many survivors of human trafficking. We are working to restore hope, dignity, and purpose to their lives and could not do that without your support. We, and they, thank YOU!