“A home far from home”

Caritas Sofia and how it helps refugees

One of Caritas Sofia’s many activities is to help refugees in Bulgaria, who, like anyone else, need medical assistance and outpatient care, counselling and support in finding a home, a job, a school and social services. The organization may cover the needs of refugees in need of support when they arrive in a strange country without even speaking the language.

Caritas Sofia offers different kinds of services to people who are applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection – for example if they need to open a bank account, to register with a general practitioner, or to register their children for school or kindergarten. There are interpreters to help the refugees, there are Bulgarian language courses, as well as a career centre which has helped many refugees find employment.

There is also a Homework Club which helps children after school, with volunteers to help them do their homework and understand lessons. The organization offers children, young people and women at refugee centres educational and recreational activities aimed at their speedier integration.

For example, under the accommodation programme, after being granted refugee status, people have 15 days to leave the refugee centres. Caritas helps them find accommodation and provides psychological support.

There is one more refugee and migrant integration centre which has been functioning for three years in the centre of Sofia – St. Anna. It too offers a variety of services to applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection.

At St. Anna women can take part in the so-called art classes twice a week and make beautiful souvenirs which are then put on sale at different charity bazaars.

There is one kind of service that only Caritas Sofia provides at the closed centres Busmantsi and Lyubimets – volunteers and staff organize daily activities for the people living at them.

Photo: private library

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