Region Burgas

The project for social inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups is operative in the municipalities included in the District of Burgas and, in particular: Pobeda neighbourhood (within the city limits of Burgas) and the towns of Sredets and Malko Tarnovo (village Zvezdets). According to the last census of 2011, the Roma residents in the three municipalities were 6363 but their actual number is much larger, according to the estimates of experts and NGOs.

The issues of this community are related to limited access to quality education and healthcare, unemployment, and housing conditions that are below the acceptable standards.

Unemployment in Pobeda neighbourhood in Burgas, which is of predominantly Roma population, is 90%. The neighbourhood has a single school – “Hristo Botev” Primary School of 700 pupils, of whom 75% are Roma. Going to school is very important for those students, since this is their chance to acquire good command of the Bulgarian language. Owing to the new building constructed by ZOV, the children are also provided with continuous access to speech therapist, psychologist and healthcare.

There was no kindergarten in the neighbourhood either, and the school did not have sufficient capacity to organize full-day activities for all pupils. The school gym has been closed since 1997/1998 school year; there is no sufficient space to host parents' meetings, cultural and celebratory events. Many children (about 20%) do not attend classes regularly and 8 – 10% drop out of school after the first school grades.

It was the parents who pointed out the need of preschool and extracurricular activities in Pobeda neighbourhood. The new kindergarten has capacity for 90 children aged between 5 and 6 years and 60 children from the first school grades (from 1st to 4th).

For the whole neighbourhood, there is one GP who sees her patients twice a week. A large number of the pregnant Roma women are below legal age and do not see the doctor for maternity checkups.

According to official information, Roma account for 12.7% of the residents in Malko Tarnovo Municipality. Their number has been growing in the recent years due to various reasons. High birth rate is the main one, but there is another reason, too. Many people move to this area for breadwinning reasons: they seek jobs in the timber industry, which is the main job provider in the region. The number of Roma children attending the kindergartens and schools in the area is growing, too (100% in village Zvezdets and 40% in the town of Malko Tarnovo).

There is no medical doctor in Zvezdets. The village is visited by a nurse once per week, on the grounds of ordinance issued by the mayor in 2015. 55% of the village residents, predominantly Roma, have no health insurances. The number of these people is growing and this circumstance aggravates the exiting issues.

The local government does not have a sustainable policy with regard to Roma; however, it manages to provide temporary jobs that are offered under various projects and programmes, mainly in the areas of landscaping and cleaning. There is an operational strategy for Roma integration, last updated in 2015.

The share of Roma residents in Sredets Municipality (15.5%) is much higher than the average for the country; a large part of this population is clustered in the town of Sredets and village Debelt, followed by the villages Drachevo, Orlintsi, Fakiya, Momina Tsarkva, Zornitsa, Prohod and Slivovo. Many of those Roma are unemployed and have no funds to provide clothing and textbooks for their children. The children are in risk of dropping out of school or of not going to school at all. One fourth of the pregnant Roma women are below legal age.

The major issues of the local Roma population are: early marriages and dropping out of the educational system; deficiency of suitably trained specialists to work with Roma parents to keep their children in school; extracurricular activities are carried out as part of projects and are discontinued with the closing of the project.

The main project activities are focused on education and healthcare, integration and improvement of the quality of life of Roma and other vulnerable groups.

The value of the project implemented in Burgas Municipality is 2 613 544 BGN. Partners in its implementation are the local governments of Sredets and Malko Tarnovo, Oblasten Romski Sayuz (District Roma Union) Foundation, “Hristo Botev” Primary School in Pobeda neighbourhood and “OFF Media” Foundation.


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Preschool education

  • Building and/or refurbishment of kindergartens in Pobeda neighbourhood in Burgas and in Malko Tarnovo Municipality.
  • Organizing of three new preschool groups in Pobeda neighbourhood for 90 children in total.
  • Classes for children who do not attend kindergarten – Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas).
  • Three campaigns among the parents to enrol their children in the preschool classes.
  • Organizing of information campaign in Burgas on the importance of preschool education.
  • Selection and appointment of three mediators in Burgas and two in Sredets, to work with Roma families and their children.
  • Providing of training for four teachers from the kindergarten in Zvezdets.
  • Organizing of two new groups in the kindergarten in Zvezdets – one for children between 3 and 5 years old and a preschool group of capacity for 25 children, a total of 75 for the three project years.


Elementary education

  • Organizing of two new classes for the first school grade in Pobeda neighbourhood in Burgas, for 60 children.
  • Working in extracurricular classes with approximately 230 children between 6 and 10 years old in Sredets.
  • Selection and appointment of three mediators in Burgas and two in Sredets, to work with Roma families and their children.
  • Training of teachers from Burgas (up to 50) and Malko Tarnovo, Zvezdets and Sredets (up to 50), aimed to improve the quality of education.
  • Identification of children who do not visit school and working for their return in class, in Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas) and in Sredets;
  • Purchasing of textbooks and school aids for the pupils who attend extracurricular classes in Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas) and in Sredets;
  • Organizing of consultancies for the parents of children in risk of dropping out from school in Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas), Malko Tarnovo, Zvezdets, and Sredets Municipality – approximately 600 parents.



Access to primary healthcare:

  • Refurbishment and building of new offices for medical doctors and mediators in the region: two offices for mediators and two offices for a GP and gynaecologist.
  • Appointment of health mediators: two mediators in village Zvezdets (Malko Tarnovo), three in Burgas and one in Sredets.
  • Trainings for physicians and nurses how to work with vulnerable Roma groups in Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas) and in Malko Tarnovo Municipality. A total of six medical specialists will be trained.


Child healthcare:

  • To identify the children without immunizations and to encourage the parents to bring their children for immunization in Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas) and in Malko Tarnovo Municipality.
  • Preventive medical examinations for the children in Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas), Sredets and Malko Tarnovo (about 700)
  • Raising the awareness of Roma parents on the subject of health prevention.


Care for pregnant women and young mothers:

  • 540 women (pregnant women, young mothers and girls between 13 and 15 years old) will be provided with access to gynaecological examinations and consultancies in family planning and preventive reproductive health.
  • Free gynaecological examinations for women without health insurances in Sredets Municipality. A total of 310 examinations will be provided across the region.
  • Dispensing of free contraceptive aids in Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas) and Sredets Municipality. Contraceptives: 3000 condoms and 310 contraceptive coils will be provided.
  • Health trainings for students from 8th to 12th school grades in Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas), in Sredets and Malko Tarnovo Municipality.
  • Ten lectures per institution will be delivered in Primary School “Hristo Botev” – Pobeda neighbourhood (Burgas); Primary and Secondary School in Sredets and Secondary School “Vasil Levski” in Malko Tarnovo. The topics of the lectures cover personal and social hygiene, smoking, unhealthy nutrition, alcohol and substance abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases.


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Refurbishment of “Alen Mak” Kindergarten in village Zvezdets


Since September 2016, 25 children visit the fully refurbished full-day kindergarten “Alen Mak” in village Zvezdets. The facility is a one-storey building with partial ground-level space, of total area 327 sq.m.

The building was heat-proofed, the roof was replaced and a new air- and water heating system was installed. Playgrounds were organized with up-to-date playing equipment, and the area around the kindergarten was landscaped. The kindergarten has new furniture: children's beds, sideboards, bookcases, tables, chairs and benches.

Within the frame of the project we planned to repair the kindergarten in village Zvezdets but the activities involved virtually amounted to a newbuilding, given the scope of the work involved: new roofing, new steel plate to serve as foundation of the structure, repaired heating installation. The old building that was inacceptable as a facility intended to host and educate children 5 – 6 years old was, in fact, replaced by a new modern kindergarten.

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A new building for “Hristo Botev” Primary School in Burgas


As of 2016/2017 school year, 90 children of 5 and 6 years old and 55 children of 7 and 8 years old will be able to attend the full-day activities organized in the newly built annexe, intended for preschool and elementary-school classes in “Hristo Botev” Primary School in Pobeda neighbourhood in Burgas. The neighbourhood has never had a kindergarten facility until now and the rooms for extracurricular activities for pupils from the first school grades have been insufficient.

The building is of total area of 870.7 sq.m. The first floor hosts classrooms and a gym, which the school has never had until now. The second floor hosts the rooms for the preparatory-school groups, a medical office and teaching-consultancy room, speech-therapist and psychologist offices and a room for work with parents.

The members of the project team visited 150 families of Roma and Turkish origin, to motivate them to send their children to school.

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Centre for Community Development in the town of Sredets


Since April 2017, a Centre for Community Development has been operating in the town of Sredets. The building, erected more than 40 years ago, was entirely renovated and furnished under the ZOV Programme.  The Centre offers complex services in the area of education and healthcare, including working with parents and celebrations of holidays and cultural events for the most vulnerable groups in the municipality.

The children from the community have extracurricular classes, which complement their skills in Bulgarian language acquired at school; they also have dance lessons, sports activities, and computer lessons. The dances, sports activities and the computers attract the children to attend the centre, and develop their social and communication skills. The centre attracts the parents, too, through the „Active parent“ and the „Responsible parent“ clubs.

The Centre is also intended to provide health-education services and consultations to the parents, so that they have a basic health culture and hygiene habits, as well as to stimulate them to take care of their health – theirs and that of their children. This has all been carried out by pedagogical specialists, psychologists, doctors and health and education mediators, employed under the ZOV Programme, who work all together as a well-coordinated and enthusiastic team.

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Education mediators in „Pobeda“ neighbourhood in Burgas


Three education mediators from the „Regional Roma Union“ Foundation were employed with a competition in the year 2017.  They are actively working in the Roma neighbourhood “Pobeda” to motivate as many children as possible to get enrolled in school and attend the classes regularly.

The mediators are people from the community and they easily find a common language with the parents; they are familiar with the problems of the families and they know how to stimulate them to send their children to the kindergartens and schools. The team of mediators has developed a plan and topics to be discussed during the meetings with the parents, which include the following:  rules at home and in school, discipline, responsible parenting, assistance in the preparation for school. 

 The first families in „Pobeda“ neighbourhood that they visited were families with children aged 5-6 years, according to the information provided by the Civil Registration Office. As a result, ninety (90) per cent of the children born in the year 2012 were enrolled in pre-school groups in the newly-built school building of  „Hristo Botev“ Primary School in „Pobeda“ neighbourhood. The rest of the children were enrolled in kindergartens in Burgas and were provided free transportation by the Municipality of Burgas. The active work of the mediators in „Pobeda“ neighbourhood continues.

Meanwhile, a hundred and fifty (150) new children aged 5 and 6 years were enrolled in pre-school groups in the new building of „Hristo Botev“ Primary School. Before the opening of the new building there were no opportunities for pre-school activities of the children in the neighbourhood.

The „Regional Roma Union“ Foundation works very closely with the schools, and the mediators attend the classes, invite teachers to the thematic discussions with the parents, resolve individual cases and conflicts.

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Renovated library meeting centre in the Burgas neighbourhood „Pobeda“


The ZOV Programme supported the repair and renovation of Library meeting centre (Chitalishte) „Hristo Botev 1937“ in Burgas  and since the beginning of 2017 it has been a focal point for the residents and children from the Roma neighbourhood „Pobeda“, as well as for the people from the neighbouring residential areas, wherefrom children from Bulgarian and Turkish origin come to visit the centre.

Theatre and other performances are now regularly held in the library meeting centre (chitalishte) and the hall turns out to be too small to accommodate all who wish to attend them.

The information centre, equipped with computers, is available to the children. In another hall, they have the opportunity to get together, read books and meet with authors.

About 30 children actively attend the group for amateur and applied arts. Dance classes are also conducted regularly – folk and standard dances. Employed under the ZOV Programme was a teacher that leads the extracurricular activities like the reading groups, painting and computer literacy groups.

Those interest-oriented clubs engage the children and actually help them to communicate, to acquire communication and social skills, along with the knowledge they gain. They are those that lead to the final goal – integration!

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Excellent educational results in Burgas


In 2018, more than 100 pre-school children at the pre-school building in Pobeda - built under ZOV - showed excellent results in Bulgarian after only a year and a half ago hard work. The children are very active and take part in extra school work and even in language and math competitions. They participate in sports and arts clubs organized under the programme (35 children altogether).

16 parents with kids who do not attend school regularly received additional coaching by mediators of the partnering organizaion Regional Roma Union.

In the period January – June 2018, 2 trainings for 20 teachers from the elementary school  "Hristo Botev" in Pobeda and 10 teachers from "St. St. Cyril and Methodius" Secondary School in Sredets were held. In Sredets, 172 students altogether received help and additional classes in the newly functioning community center. 24 children attended Bulgarian language classes, 16 – attended sports classes and 82 participated in culure events.

40 children made educational trips to Burgas. In Malko Tarnovo and the village of Zvezdec, 27 new children were involved in the kindergartens and motivatinal work was carried out with 10 parents.

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Burgas - Results EDUCATION


Number of children in kindergartens (3-6) in newly established groups under ZOV, including groups for Bulgarian lessons - 569

Number of pupils (1 - 4 grade) in newly established groups under ZOV - 372

Number of participants (children and parents) in events - theatre, cinema and other culture & sport events – 1 268

Number of children in extracurricular activities (children & parents clubs, green schools, trips, museums) – 1 911

Number of parents in campaigns and consultations on education – 2 927

Note: Data covers the period 2016 – 2018.

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Trainings in first-aid providing for the vulnerable groups


Series of three-day trainings in first-aid providing intended for Roma and other vulnerable groups from the three municipalities were organized in Burgas and Malko Tarnovo in the summer of 2016. The trainings were attended by 100 participants – predominantly parents, but there were children, too. Contests in first-aid providing for 200 participants will be organized at a later stage for the parents and their children. The contestants will be teams composed of family members. The contests will be organized on a drill ground and will include realistically simulated incidents.

These trainings are especially important for the Roma community because of usually delayed visits to the doctor, frequently inaccessible first-aid services and common occurrences of crisis situations. Apart from these reasons, the activity aims to improve the understanding on the benefits of prevention. These indirect results will expand the health awareness and culture of the Roma population. The joint participation of parents and children is a good idea because it contributes to the building of a shared perception for help providing and educates that reaction to a health issue is practically possible.

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Six health mediators work with the Roma community


A total of six health mediators were trained in 2016. Three of them work in Burgas, another one works in Sredets and two other work in Malko Tarnovo. For a couple of months the mediators identified 450 Roma and Turkish families in risk and consulted them on the matters of health insurances and access to healthcare. 84 children of Roma and Turkish origin were directed to immunization. 86 Roma received support for the purchasing of medications and for observance of doctor’s prescriptions.

There is a huge necessity for such mediators across the country. We, the members of ZOV team working in the Burgas area, are satisfied that we have been able to identify persons that are well-suited to perform the function of health mediator in the three towns where the programme operates. Mediators play a key role so that Roma can rely on comprehensive services – healthcare, education, administration matters and establishing contacts with physicians and hospitals.

Mediators’ work is financed by ZOV Programme but the three local governments have undertaken the engagement to employ the mediators once the project is finalized.

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200 prophylactic medical examinations in the town of Sredets


Since the beginning of 2017, there have been regular gynecological examinations of young women, as well as consultations of pregnant women and mothers from „Pobeda“ neighbourhood – Sredets. Medical aid has been provided to uninsured women as well.

In order to respond to the need for regular examinations, the Municipality of Sredets organizes transportation to the Diagnostic and consultative centre „El Masri“ for those examinations to be carried out. They include gynecological examinations of uninsured pregnant women from the Roma community and application of free intrauterine spirals (50 spirals since the beginning of the project). By the end of June 2017 gynecological examinations were carried out to 167 health uninsured women from the town of Sredets. Of them, eighty-eight women were pregnant.

During the period January-June 2017, two hundred (200) prophylactic medical examinations were carried out.

The health mediator, employed under the ZOV Programme, helps in the organization of the prophylactic examinations and immunizations, directs the uninsured pregnant women to a gynecologist, and supports the implementation of the doctor’s prescriptions.


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Medical examination in Burgas and Malko Tarnovo


With the help of the two health mediators, since the start of the activities for conducting gynecological examinations (December 2016), eighty-one (81) women from „Pobeda“ neighbourhood in Burgas have been examined by a gynecological specialist. Over 400 individual consultations on various health topics have been carried out by the health mediators in the neighbourhood. They also delivered eight lectures on the topic of Hygiene and health during the last reporting period.

Since the start of the examinations in the end of 2016, with the assistance of the health mediators, fifty-five (55) women from Malko Tarnovo have been examined by a gynecological specialist. Sixty-eight (68) uninsured people from the target group have undergone prophylactic examinations by a general practitioner. The mediators have conducted two health campaigns among the community on the topics of family planning, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

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Medical checks in ZOV region of Burgas


In the period January – June 2018, more than 1,400 individual consultations on different health topics were conducted by health mediators in the 3 project locations – Burgas, Sredets and Malko Tarnovo; 310 gynecological consultations were carried out under ZOV programme in the 3 locations.

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Бургас - Резултати ЗДРАВЕОПАЗВАНЕ


Общи медицински прегледи, извършени от общопрактикуващите лекари и педиатри и скрининги – 1 539

Специализирани медицински прегледи, вкл. гинекологични прегледи – 605

Медицински тестове - вкл. ХИВ, сифилис, PAP – тестове (цитонамазки), кръвни тестове за кучешки  тения – 156

Здравни консултации (вкл. здравна  медиация) – 3 918

Поставени вътрематочни спирали - 201

Бенефициенти на информационни кампании и събития, групи за здравна подкрепа на жени и младежи  - 3 191

Бележка: Данните се отнасят за периода 2016 – 2018 г.

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Magdalena Yapadzhieva

Project manager

“Real integration passes through education. It is the education that equips individuals with the means to be full citizens of their country. Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world for the better.”

Senior expert in “Education and Demographic Matters” in Burgas Municipality. Holds Master’s degree in Bulgarian and Russian Languages, qualified as translator and teacher in secondary schools. Ms. Yapadzhieva has extensive experience in consulting and implementation of diverse projects in the areas of education and integration, and has long-term record of activities accomplished in cooperation with the District Roma Union Foundation.

Zhenia Georgieva

Coordinator Education

Senior expert in “Education and Demographic Matters” Directorate in Burgas Municipality. Holder of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English Language. Her work as a teacher connects her to the field of Education. Ms. Georgieva has experience in the implementation of projects related to measures for energy efficiency and entrepreneurship.

Зюмбюла Маринова

Coordinator of “Education and Integration Activities” and representative of Sredets Municipality

Holder of Master’s degree in Economic Management with specialism in Health Management. Holder of Bachelor’s degree in Social Activities and possesses certified qualification as Nurse. Currently occupies the position of Senior Expert in Social Activities in Sredets Municipality.

Deyan Yotov

Coordinator of “Education, Cultural Identity and Development of the Community”

Director of “European Programmes and Funds, European Integration and Investment Policy” Directorate in Malko Tarnovo Municipality. Holder of Master’s degree in Law and Master’s degree in Tax Administration. Mr. Yotov has over 10 years of professional experience in the areas of law, finance, public administration and education, and has extensive experience in working for operational and donor programmes. Experienced in the operation of financing schemes as coordinator, manager and expert. 

Irina Apostolova

Healthcare Coordinator

Director of “Social Activities, Services and Healthcare” Directorate in Malko Tarnovo Municipality. Holder of Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare and General Nursing and Master’s degree in Pedagogy with specialism in speech therapy, teacher in logopaedic preschools, schools and clinics. 

Mariyan Ivanov

PR and Communications

Coordinator of “Public Information” in OFF Media. Professional journalist of 12 years of experience in the Bulgarian National Radio. Worked for BGNES Agency and information site OFF News. Graduated in Journalism from Shumen University “Episkop Konstantin Preslavski.”

Vladimir Yonchev

Manager of OFF Media Foundation

Journalist, owner and editor-in-chief of webpage. Born in 1975 in Vidin. Studied in the National High School for Ancient Languages and Cultures “St. Konstantin-Kiril Filosof” and graduated from the major Philosophy in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski.” Worked as reporter and editor for the newspapers Novinar and Standart; editor-in-chief of Telegraf daily.

Bearer of “Chernorizets Hrabar” award in the “Research Journalism” category.

In 2011 founded Off Media – the company that keeps the information site and the forum.


Lalka Boycheva

Technical Assistant

Holder of Bachelor’s degree in Social Activities, certified as Midwife. Senior expert in Social Activities in Sredets Municipality. Responsible for the current assignments related to the project implementation. Acts as liaison for the Proejct Coordinator in the contacts with individuals and organizations. 

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Burgas Municipality

The District of Burgas has 370 544 residents of whom 18 424 define themselves as Roma. There are two segregated neighbourhoods of compact Roma population in the territory of Burgas Municipality: Pobeda, of about 3500 Roma residents and Gorno Ezerovo, of 1500 Roma residents. Burgas Municipality tries to sustainably apply the principle of equity and to render support to the Bulgarian citizens of Roma origin by offering them temporary jobs under various projects and programmes in the areas of cleaning and landscaping. Considerable results have been achieved in the area of educational integration through projects implemented under the operational programmes, social inclusion and international funds. There is a currently running programme for educational integration of children and pupils from the ethnic communities, last updated in 2015.

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Sredets Municipality

Sredets Municipality has 14934 residents. According to data provided by the National Statistic Institute based on the census of 2011, the Roma residents are 2063, which accounts for 15.5% of the population and makes this ethnic group the second largest in the municipality. According to experts, the actual number of Roma is over 3500.

The local government leads a sustainable policy for equal access to education. Additionally, it works actively for the solving of the issue related to the keeping of Roma children in school. Innovative formats of social services are introduced, which focus on the social inclusion of little Roma children and their parents. More than 600 jobs for permanently unemployed have been opened in the recent three years.

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Malko Tarnovo Municipality

Malko Tarnovo Municipality has 3700 residents. Although few of them define themselves as Roma, the number of socially vulnerable population is considerable. 

The local government has a sustainable policy with regard to Roma and is successful in the providing of at least temporary jobs for the people, again in the areas of landscaping and cleaning. The operational strategy for Roma integration was last updated in 2015.

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Oblasten Romski Sayuz (District Roma Union) Foundation

“To Stay Close to the People” is the slogan, which Oblasten Romski Sayuz (District Roma Union) Foundation has been applying in its practices since 1999. The Foundation’s long-term experience in the implementation of programmes and projects of public benefit has won them the privileged position of a leading organization in the region. The ten-member staff of the Foundation and the external experts provide services in the areas of education, social entrepreneurship, healthcare and social-skills development. They provide assistance with administrative matters concerning employment, retirement and health insurance, and other topics of interest for the community.

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Primary School “Hristo Botev”

Primary school “Hristo Botev” situated in Pobeda neighbourhood in Burgas opened its doors in the distant 1921. The original school consisted of a single classroom and an office. Today the school hosts 650 pupils organized in four preparatory groups (that number will expand to six, once the project is fully implemented), 16 classes at the elementary-school level and 10 classes in the primary-education level. The school successfully implements projects focused on the quality learning of lessons and keeping the pupils in school. The slogan of the School is “We are different but we stay together.” The school implements extracurricular programmes “Folklore of the ethnic groups – Roma folklore,” “Mother tongue – Turkish language” and “Healthcare” for the children from the 1st to 4th school grades. The school has organized a chamber ensemble Veleka, which performs Bulgarian and international folk songs and dances.

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OFF Media Foundation

OFF MEDIA Foundation AD was established in 2011. Promotion of project activities, reaching to the largest possible audience and highlighting the project significance are the main objectives of the Foundation's webpage Experts engaged by OFF Media have undertaken the task to teach first-aid skills to the people from the community. After the hundreds of trainees who have passed such trainings across the country, the residents of Burgas, Sredets and Malko Tarnovo will be the next to obtain adequate knowledge and skills in first-aid giving. 

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