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Path to new beginning starts from Sofia Central Prison’s gates

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The prison is not a place for good guys, but there are some of those here as well, says one of the prisoners with years spent behind bars. Not everyone can think it all over at a spot where one has no right to make his own choice and it is hard to find some privacy even for an hour. The training classes of the Salvation Foundation are a ray of light though. It works under a project, funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, aiming to support people with a vulnerable social status at the protection of their rights.

The Sofia Prison convicts that meet the foundation’s representatives have already noticed positive changes, regarding the administration and the regime of that institution – thanks to the social workers. Those who are doing time say that after those meetings with well-intentioned people, such as the foundation’s Chair Ivodor Kovachev, they dream more of stepping out into freedom, where they can fix their mistakes from the past.

The training classes are useful, as those teach us how to start our live all over again – how to find a good job, how to study all the time, building up our life, says one of the prisoners, who is ashamed of his stay here.

We are ready to go through barriers and fortresses, if only we can reach those people, who are ready to change, says Ivodor Kovachev, who also heads the Path of New Beginning project.

Снимка“My work here inspires me to move forward. We, the people from the foundation, are sure that something good is happening here and that is why we are working with these guys. We get discouraged sometimes, as people often fail to show esteem for our efforts. However, we still believe that those guys here will build up a better future with our help. When I look at someone here, I don’t see one single person – I see many people forming around him. The biggest challenge is ahead of them once they are out – the true battle for the defense of values begins then. Our goal is to continue working with them in the future. They are doing time for really serious crimes like murder, kidnappings and burglaries. My greatest reward is to see someone among them turning his back on his criminal past, realizing that he wants an honest and dignified life. I am often asked on any results from our work, but I see it as a big success to help even a couple of people to change their life.”

Young convict Lyuben says that the will is the main prerequisite for the change, but the path is easier with some help along it.

“The goal of the project is not only to bring in some diversity in our stay here, but to change the old way of thinking. The dream of each convict is for a better and fairer society, waiting for us outside. However, I am not optimistic, as I see how big the role of money is in our lives and I think it has brought every discord in it. People think and do everything for the money, many see it as the greatest value – hence our biggest troubles, which confuse the system of values. Once sold his soul for money, a person cannot be stopped to want more and more without even thinking on what he or she is loosing on the way of getting it.”

English version: Zhivko Stanchev

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