human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Youth activities at Caritas Ruse

Making sure young people are seen and heard

Caritas Ruse is part of the Bulgarian Caritas family as well as Caritas Internationalis. Being part of Caritas Bulgaria, our work is focused on the Northern part of the country. Our services include integration and rehabilitation of children and youths with disabilities; support of children and families at risk; accommodation, integration and rehabilitation of homeless people; health and social support of elder people; support for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and support of refugees and migrants. We include youths as volunteers or users of our services.

In the Daily Centre for children and youths with disabilities our specialists work in the areas of kinesitherapy, rehabilitation, speech therapy, art therapy, carry out parent consultations, and provide the children with different social opportunities in order to develop their integration in society and to support their independence as much as is possible. Very often we have visits from young volunteers who are part of our organization or represent other local NGOs. Also, students from University of Ruse have their internships every year at the Centre. This inclusion of young people is extremely important for both sides, because on one hand the children enjoy playing and meeting new people, and their participation in the activities helps to develop their social skills, while on the other hand the volunteers gain experience and are engaged with something which makes them happy and satisfied.

In our Centre for Children at Risk we have two groups of young people – the children who are advised and in need of support which the Centre is providing (psychological, pedagogical and social) and the volunteers. Some of the volunteers started as users of the service and later on after stabilizing the situation at home continued visiting and helping fellow children in need. The activities include weekly group trainings, individual work with specialists, and sport activities. Volunteers are very active in their work inside and outside the Centre because for them the Centre is like a second home – they have created many friendships there and gained a lot of experience in different areas. The youngsters are always excited about all our annual campaigns and events, help in the organisation and are eager to participate every time!

Outside of the work in our services Caritas Ruse is currently participating in two projects. One is “Recognize and change” which aims to develop culture and raise awareness about topics like discrimination, violence, and bullying amongst young people by relying on the peer to peer method. In the frame of the activities the youngsters take part in workshops on the discussed topics and then they share their knowledge with students from local schools. At the end, together, they create digital products which participate in an organised contest (also part of the project). Their common work creates a lot of opportunities for learning, sharing, and gaining experience while discussing extremely important questions.

The other project MIND – “Migration, interconnectedness, development” aims to raise awareness about migration and development and the connection between them. In the organised activities we reached young audiences at our local university with discussions; our volunteers participated in the two editions of our solidarity marathons and in all other events.

We believe that young people should be informed, included, and provided the opportunity to share their opinions and ideas in all of our areas of work. They are the future and by educating and listening to them, we can be useful both as a group and to one another. We are happy to share that our youngsters are associating our organisation with development, learning, opportunities, happiness, peace, and perceive it as place for support, joy, and friendships, and sometimes even see us as a second family. We hope we will be able to continue providing them with everything they need, and to share life lessons and valuable experience with them.