Charity fun run connecting Bulgarian traditions and sport with solidarity, tolerance and equality

On 10 March volunteers from Caritas and CVS-Bulgaria will be welcoming children and adults at the summer stage in the Borisova Gradina Park (Boris Garden) in Sofia where a “Granny Marta” charity fun run will be taking place for the 5th time. The event is part of the initiative MIND– Migration, Interconnectedness, Development – financed by the EU, and unlike previous years when it was targeted at refugee children, this year it extends to all disadvantaged children.

“The initiative will involve children with disabilities, children from one-parent families, children from socially disadvantaged families, from the Roma community, and, of course, children who have applied for and been given international protection,” says Martina Raychinova from the Caritas charity organization. “We want to support people who are disadvantaged, not just children but their families as well, because it is not easy for them either. We know that children with disabilities are still living isolated lives, and not just because the infrastructure is a hindrance to their integration, but also because we tend to steer clear of them. Bulgarian children grow up without knowing children like that even exist. With this initiative we want to show the children they are not alone, and society in Bulgaria as a whole – that being different is nothing to worry about. But that there is a great deal to worry about when one is living alone in one’s difference.”

Anyone wishing to support this cause, to find out more about the children in a disadvantaged position and the projects of the two organizations, or anyone who just loves outdoor exercise, can join in the fun run taking place under the motto “Together we can do more!”

“Thanks to a group of sports enthusiasts we have some interesting routes. They were specifically mapped for the younger children, but also for children with special needs because we want to help children with disabilities cope with the challenge, we want other children to help them be together, get to know one another and see for themselves that we are all the same,” Martina Raychinova says.

The participants in the race will be given T-shirts and other gifts connected with the Bulgarian Granny Marta tradition, and the winners in the marathon will be awarded fun prizes. There will also be games and workshops, and a diverse stage programme prepared by children the charity organization is working with.

“We will have traditional dances from different countries, Bulgarian songs and dances, there will be children’s theatre, a performing band, an origami workshop that will be conducted by a volunteer of our organization from Japan, there will be relay races, delicious cuisine from the Arab world, painting with henna and face paint. The workshops will encompass all of our projects in support of disadvantaged people. At these workshops people will be able to make all kinds of things – felt souvenirs, pottery, postcards, everything our social enterprise offers,” Martina Raychinova explains.

The event kicks off at 3 PM and the idea is:

“To bring people together for a run in a good cause, to spend a day together and not just have fun but show our support for children in a disadvantaged position,” Martina Raychinova says. “To show that these people are not alone, that when we are together anything is possible. It is possible for these children to take part in a sports marathon, just as it is possible to come together to make their lives easier and make their integration into society possible.”

English version: Milena Daynova

Photos: courtesy of the organisers

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