Region Sliven

The integration project for social inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups in Sliven is implemented in Roma neighbourhood Nadezhda. This is an area characterized by a number of preconditions contributing for the social isolation of its residents, such as: lack of a kindergarten and a school, hospital and a community centre. Nadezhda neighbourhood is among the poorest regions in Sliven Municipality and in Bulgaria.

The neighbourhood is below the limits of all poverty indicators: employment, housing conditions and housing infrastructure, education and health. The area is in need of clearly defined and persistent State and local-government policy for the overcoming of the extremely hard living conditions in the neighbourhood. ZOV project is a good beginning towards the finding of solutions for these issues.

According to official data, over 10 000 Roma live in Nadezhda. Their number accounts for nearly 1/9th of the total population in Sliven but in reality Roma are much more and many of them are marginalized and socially excluded. In its totality, Sliven Municipality can be viewed as a typical region as regards concentration of ethnic minorities, of which Roma is the most vulnerable.

The Roma community includes a significant number of socially isolated persons for whom numerous poverty-enhancing factors are at play: early dropping out from school, low level of education, permanent unemployment and lack of working habits for some of them, limited potential for employment, bad living conditions and insufficient access to healthcare, education and social services.

This is a region inhabited by a relatively large share of children, families and individuals in risk: permanently unemployed with low level of education and professional qualification, mothers of minor age, large families and single-parent families. These risk factors contribute for the social exclusion of the children, which can take various shapes. The social isolation in the neighbourhood obstructs the socialization and education of children, blocks their development and predestines them to unemployment and poverty.  

With the building of a comprehensive childcare facility in Nadezhda, many children from the neighbourhood who have never left their homes before will be given an opportunity to go to the nursery and kindergarten in their neighbourhood. The building, which construction started in the autumn of 2016, will also host a Health and Consulting Centre and a Community Centre, which are currently non-existent in the neighbourhood.  
An ambition of the project team in Sliven is to work for the provision of the necessary base and opportunities for access to integrated services without a need for the local residents to leave their habitual environment. This project is very important, especially for the young children for whom every change of environment is highly stressful.

In ZOV, we work for the young children covered by the project to receive basic social skills and knowledge which are of key importance for their further development and socialization. The local government and project partners work diligently to select the right criteria for inclusion in the kindergarten of the poorest and most vulnerable children from the neighbourhood.

The implementation of the project within the neighbourhood will considerably facilitate the residents’ access to public services on the spot and at the same time will act as a link between the social services and the isolated communities living in segregated quarters.

The project in Sliven is of total value 2 791 985 BGN and is implemented by the local government of Sliven in partnership with the Roma Academy for Culture and Education and the foundations “Roma Health” and “Medics of the World.”

Download the fact sheet about our work in Sliven
See more



  1. Building and furnishing a comprehensive childcare facility (ODZ) and premises for the setting up a nursery and a kindergarten (0-6), a medical unit and a cultural center in Nadezhda.
  2. Selection and education of 32-member staff for the facility who will be trained to work with bilingual children.
  3. Organizing of three educational happenings scheduled to involve 3800 neighbourhood residents.
  4. The “From door to door” campaign will identify and register 350 parents and 150 children aged 0 -6 who are due for enrolment in nursery or kindergarten. Apart from the enrolment of children, the social and economic standing of the families will be assessed and their needs for aid will be specified.
  5. In the process of identification and registering of children, highly marginalized families will be identified: those who do not have the resource to prepare the set of documents needed for the enrolment of their children in nursery or kindergarten. The campaign’s main target is 200 families who wish to enroll their children in nursery or kindergarten but cannot do that because they are moneyless or illiterate.
  6.  9 thematic meetings and discussions with the participation of experts and representatives from the institutions will be conducted, theobjective being to provide consultancies and support to parents whose children do not visit regularly the comprehensive childcare facility. 600 neighbourhood residents will be covered by this initiative.
  7. Creativity events for people from the neighbourhood will be organized under a special program with the participation of a dance teacher, musician and rehearsal coach.  A youth dance group of 20 participants will be organized.


  1. Building and furnishing a Healthcare and Consultancy Centre in Nadezhda,Sliven to host three medical consulting rooms, surgery and auxiliary offices.
  2. Creating of database on the health state of neighbourhood residents. The information will be collected through questionnaires, analyses, field work and visits to identified families.
  3. Opening of a Medical Centre in the neighbourhood with two general practitioners, a pediatrician and a gynaecologist.
  4. Health prevention campaign among the residents of Nadezhda: 14 thematic indoor performances and 9 flash mobs that will cover 3000 neighbourhood residents.
  5. Access to information and consulting on the matters of sexual and reproductive health. A team of three health mediators and a nurse will deliver 18 modules for better awareness on the subject of family planning. Round tables on the topics of risky behaviour, family planning and unwanted pregnancy with the participation of religious leaders and Roma community leaders from the neighbouhood will be held.
  6.  Organizing of specialized prevention examinations for uninsured residents of Nadezhda: 960 individuals are scheduled to be covered.
  7.  1000 HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C tests for persons in risk living in the community.
  8. Improving the quality of medical services for the monitoring of pregnant women and young mothers: monitoring of 300 pregnant women and young mothers without health insurances.
  9. Free contraceptive aids for women from the risk groups in the Roma community. 450 medical examinations for women without health insurances and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases will be provided. The access to free contraception (pills, coils, condoms) will help women to avoid unwanted pregnancies and to plan their families.


  1. Development, preservation and cultural continuity among the young and adolescent Roma through a series of events.
  2. The free “Cultural Calendar” edition will present information about dates and events related to the history of Roma, their holidays, rituals and traditions. “Cultural Calendar” foresees thematic evenings, a poetry contest, celebrating of Bango Vasil, Babinden (Midwife’s Day), Hederlezi, the 8th of April – the International Roma Day.
  3. Participation of Roma in civil initiatives and advocacy, motivating them to be active participants in the public processes in Sliven.
  4. A thematic ethnic corner will display artefacts, documents and works by Roma artists and craftsmen. A research through Sliven District will collect objects for a permanent exhibition.

See more


Construction of a comprehensive childcare facility (ODZ) in Sliven


After a prolonged public-procurement process, investment planning and negotiations for the locating of a new comprehensive childcare facility in Nadezhda neighbourhood, in September 2016 the local government of Sliven launched the construction works. Apart from a nursery and kindergarten, the facility will host a Health Consulting Centre and Culture Educational Centre. In this way, the Roma will be provided with access to education and healthcare, and a place for the organizing of meetings and a diversity of other events, all in a single spot.

The building is of total area 2326 sq.m. and is in immediate proximity to the Administrative Service Centre in Nadezhda. The construction works are implemented by Stroy Group and will cost 1 249 564,08 BGN. The contractor has been selected through a bid of tenders organized under the Public Procurement Act. The nursery section of the United Childcare Facility will cover 32 children organized in two groups while the kindergarten will educate 120 children organized in four groups. The facility will have classrooms, a music room and a gym.

The Health Consultancy Unit will have three medical consulting rooms: gynaecological, paediatric and GP’s. This facility will provide healthcare for the neighbourhood residents.

The Culture Educational Centre will be organized in two rooms: an information centre for work with the Roma community in Nadezhda and a multi-purpose room for group events.

See more

“From door to door” gains speed in Sliven


The team of Association “Roma Academy for Culture and Education” (RACO) – ZOV local partner in Sliven – works every day with the families in Nadezhda: the team members talk with them, provide information on various matters and motivate the parents to enrol their children in the new kindergarten once it is finished and inaugurated. The visits are from street to street and from door to door. Information about the social and economic standing of the families is gathered through questionnaires, the purpose being to specify families’ needs.

According to the 250 questionnaires filled-in so far, 92% of the interviewed mothers are above 18 years old; of them, 45% are over 23 years old. It was established that 51% of the interviewed parents have one child and 38% have two children. Only 2% (five families) have more than three children.

Many parents share that they live in hard times and prefer to have one or two children, so that they can provide them with quality care and good education. Some of the parents share that they have difficulties in finding employment because they are undereducated and under-qualified (58% of the mothers have elementary education and 36% have primary education); that is why they want to provide better education for their children.

See more

Happenings dedicated to the benefits of Roma education


On the 1st of April 2016 in Sliven, over 1000 participants joined the Happening for the benefits of education in the Roma community organized by “Roma Academy for Culture and Education”.

The happening was organized in Nadezhda neighbourhood of predominantly Roma population with the participation of Roma artists and musicians, dance group RACO with choreographer Atanas Atanasov and dance group Veselie, the Young Virtuosi orchestra with leader Radka Kuseva and Karandila Junior Band with leader Angel Tichaliev.

The participants were greeted by RACO President Stela Kostova, Deputy-mayor Stoyan Markov and District governor Tatyana Petkova. Attendants in the event were the Head of the Regional Education Inspectorate Dr. Biserka Mihaleva, administrators from the local government of Sliven, representatives from the Governor’s office, partner NGOs and the team of “Integrated project for social inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups in Sliven”.
This has been the first event of its type organized in Nadezhda. The Roma living in the neighbourhood highly approved this RACO initiative.

See more

A multifunctional building in Nadezhda will open doors soon


The construction of the multifunctional building in the Nadezhda Roma neighbourhood – a new nursery, kindergarten, medical and culture centers – has been completed and will officially inaugurated on 22 November 2018. The Municipality of Sliven started the process of registering children aged 0-6 to be placed in the new groups.

In the period January – June 2018, 120 children and parents took part in motivational and informational sessions on the importance of early childhood development and enrollment in the newly built kindergarten in Nadezhda organized by RACO, the ZOV local partner.

230 children were engaged in arts classes – dances and singing clubs. 320 Roma participated in celebrating 2 Roma holidays within the reporting period, organized by RACO.

See more

Sliven - Results EDUCATION


Number of children in kindergartens (3-6) in newly established groups under ZOV, including groups for Bulgarian lessons – 1 080

Number of participants (children and parents) in events - theatre, cinema and other culture & sport events – 6 589

Number of children in extracurricular activities  – 318

Number of parents in campaigns and consultations on education – 914

Note: Data covers the period 2015 – 2018

See more
See more


Results in the area of reproductive and sexual health and prevention


On 15 April 2016, a round table on the healthcare issues of Roma living in Nadezhda neighbourhood was organized with the participation of ten religious leaders from the community. This meeting was intended to explain basic matters concerning the reproductive health and contraception, maternal health and prevention. Since the pastors in Nadezhda are leaders in the community and can easily mobilize the participation of its residents, “Medics of the World” invited pastors, Roma women and mothers to join the discussions on these significant topics for the Roma women.

Through the period February – July 2016, the partner NGO “Medics of the World” organized 794 individual meetings with Nadezhda residents who were in need of healthcare and medical attention. Out of those, 385 were first-time visitors and in the organization’s consultancy rooms and received the mediators’ assistance for the gynaecological examinations and other explanatory consultancies. During their field work, the project team talked with another 227 individuals. 46 women were accompanied for their visits to the gynaecologist. 478 individuals visited the “Medics of the World” Information Centre. Those were predominantly women and mothers in need of medical examinations and assistance with contraceptive aids. Some of those visitors did not have medical insurances. During these individual information sessions, the visitors were consulted by the mediators working for the programme.

See more

AIDS and contagious-disease examinations in Sliven


In 2016, the “Roma Health” organization interviewed 416 residents of Nadezhda to obtain information about AIDS, tapeworm and sexually transmitted diseases.

Out of these, 351 individuals aged between 18 and 35 were examined for AIDS, another ten are scheduled to pass additional examinations.

The results from the research provided information about the health state of Roma living in Nadezhda.

See more

Medical checks in ZOV region of Sliven


In the period January – June 2018, the Roma Health partner conducted gynecological exams for 259 Roma women. 221 Roma were screened for tapeworm and 2 of these were positively diagnosed and further treated. 35 patients at risk to be sick of Hepatitis B, and C, syphilis, and AIDS were screened and 2 were diagnosed with syphilis and hepatitis B. 79 insured pregnant women were screened as well.

143 Roma took part in sessions on family planning and reproductive health carried out by the partner Doctors of the World. 683 individual consultations on any health problem were conducted, whereas half of these people came to the offices for the 1st time. Doctors of the World work with pastors in order to deal with early marriages and births. 10 pastors take part in 3 round tables on these issues. 122 women were consulted on contraception measures and 80 of them decided to have the IUDs placed.

See more

Sliven - Results HEALTHCARE


Number of general medical exams carried out by GPs/paediatricians and screenings – 3 468

Number of specialised medical examinations, incl. gynaecological examinations – 2 071

Number of medical tests - incl. HIV, syphilis, PAP smear tests, blood tests for dog tapeworms – 2 386

Number of health consultations (health mediators)– 5 893

Number of intrauterine devices – 285

Number of beneficiaries of information campaigns and events, women and health support groups  - 5 278

Note: Data covers the period 2015 – 2018.

See more
See more

Empowerment and Culture

Exhibition of Roma posters in Sliven


On 7 Pril 2016, the exhibition of posters "8 April - International Romani Day" was opened in the municipal gallery "May" in Sliven. Tashko Popov, teacher in “Dimitar Dombrovich” National High School for Arts in Sliven presented the exhibition.

The exhibition included 13 thematic posters dedicated to the International Roma Day. Amongst the participants were Sliven-born artist Aleksandar Zahariev, Nikolay Stoychev, Diyan Dankov, Orlin Orlinov and Plamen Kovachev. The Sliven Quartet performed in the official ceremony for the opening of the exhibition.

On the 8th of April, in the esteemed presence of His Eminence Yoanikiy, Bishop of Sliven, a ceremony of flower giving was organized on the banks of Asenovska River to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.

Karandila Band had an open-air concert performed in front of the Military Club in Sliven. These events made part of the two-day programme of Association “Roma Academy for Culture and Education” (RACO), to celebrate the International Roma Day.

See more

Roma in Sliven celebrated Hederlezi


On the 7th of May, ethnic Roma from Sliven gathered in Hrani Pole vicinity in the area of Sliven Spas to celebrate Hederlezi (St. George’s Day). The event was organized by Association “Roma Academy for Culture and Education,” a local partner of ZOV.

Deputy-mayor Stoyan Markov greeted the attendants and extended his good wishes to the Roma community to keep their traditions.

The celebrations continued with a concert of Karandila Band, wrestling contest, rope jumping and running, contest for most beautiful horse-driven cart and horse, and dancing contest. The winning contestants received prizes.

See more

A series of events dedicated to Roma identity in Sliven


ZOV Programme works with extra zeal to support Roma initiatives that enhance Roma culture and identity. Association “Roma Academy for Culture and Education” is organizer of the festive events on the occasion of Roma holidays (the 8th of April, Hederlezi), sports and dance events, exhibitions and ethnic-collection corner – a gallery showcasing Roma artefacts.

Over 1500 Roma took part in these events, the greater number of which has been organized in Nadezhda neighbourhood for the first time.

The positive contribution of these initiatives for the improved self-confidence and dignity of Roma is indisputable. This positive effect, in its turn, motivates Roma to participate in the social life in Sliven and contributes for their more successful integration.

See more
See more
Инж. Стоян Марков

ръководител на проекта

Инж. Стоян Марков

Инж.Габриела Симеонова

Координатор на проекта

Инж.Габриела Симеонова

Велина Дунчева

Счетоводител по проекта

Велина Дунчева  

Инж. Гинка Тужарова

Екперт „Обществени поръчки

Инж. Гинка Тужарова

Светла Кабадозова

Експерт инвеститорски контрол

Светла Кабадозова

Diana Delcheva

Technical Assistant

Diana is Chief Expert at the Administrative Services Center "Nadezhda" in the Nadezhda District-Sliven, where the ZOV Programme is actively working since 2015. Dians works closely with the health mediators in Nadezhda. 

As of 2016 she is the Chairwoman of the People's Community Center "Nadezhda 1950".

Diana has got professional experience as a nursery assitant.  Диана е главен специалист в Центъра за административно обслужване „Надежда“ в квартал „Надежда“ – Сливен, където Програма ЗОВ работи. Работи отблизо със здравните медиатори в квартала.

От октомври 2016 тя е и председател на Народно читалище „Надежда  1950“.  Има професионален опит и като помощник-възпитател в детска ясла.


See more

Municipality of Sliven

According to data from the last census, Sliven has 91 620 residents. Bulgarians are the most numerous ethnic group, followed by the Roma. Nadezhda neighbourhood, which is the focus of ZOV, has 10 000 residents according to official data but their actual number is much larger.

The local government of Sliven works on a number of projects which objective is to improve the quality of life and social integration of Roma; different measures and employment programs for the vulnerable groups are being applied.

The local government implements various programs for temporary employment of Roma and representatives from other vulnerable groups.

See more

“Roma Academy for Culture and Education (RACO)” – Sliven

 “Roma Academy for Culture and Education (RACO)” – Sliven, is a non-profit organization of rich experience in the area of educational integration and reintegration of children from minority and ethnic groups and of socially disadvantaged children. This organization has authority and influence in the local community, traditionally good contacts and experience in working jointly with the local government of Sliven, as well as with kindergartens and schools from the municipal educational network, institutions and organizations.

RACO interacts actively with governmental and non-governmental organizations for the raising of the living standard and educational level of the Roma and, concurrently, works actively to diminish the effect of prejudice against the community. It participates in the organizing and conducting of educational and sports events. 

See more

“Medics of the World” Association – Sliven Branch

“Medics of the World” Association – Sliven Branch has placed the sexual and reproductive health at the top of its priority list with special focus on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, reproductive health in emergency and prevention of cervical cancer.

The team applies comprehensive approach in their work related to the public health and human rights, which presupposes the provision of comprehensive and accessible care alongside with advocacy for the right of access to services for sexual and reproductive healthcare.

The Association’s work in Sliven aims to empower the vulnerable groups and women in particular to seek their rights to healthcare and at the same time to build a capacity for self-responsibility in the local stakeholders through innovative and sustainable actions. The overall activity of the Association contributes for the happening of significant changes in the Roma community in their attitudes related to family planning and early pregnancy. Under ZOV, the organization applies methodology and tools that have been successfully tested in earlier projects.

“Medics of the World” has been working since 2004 with the vulnerable people in Bulgaria and the Roma community in Sliven, and in particular with the residents of Nadezhda ghetto.

See more

“Roma Health” Foundation – Sliven

 “Roma Health” Foundation – Sliven is a non-governmental organization working mainly in the area of healthcare and health prevention in Nadezhda. The Foundation has very good contacts with institutions and various organizations at both local and national level. Owing to their long-term work in the neighbourhood, the Foundation has built a positive reputation in the community as a whole and among its individual members.

See more