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Hidden Talents of Bulgaria gives future to gifted underprivileged children

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Eight talented kids listen to their mentor’s pieces of advice each week. Although their dreams follow different paths, they are unified by one thing – getting better in their vocation with each following day.

For a decade now the “Operation Teddy Bear” society has brought joy to those kids, whom Santa seems to have forgotten. However, these children do not exist on holidays only and so the organization has set a new goal – to track down the most talented among them and give them a future. Thus the Hidden Talents of Bulgaria mentor program was born. It has been launched as of the current year and 8 kids from Sofia, Varna, Vidin and Burgas have been taking part in it.

Снимка“This is the first year of the program, aimed at supporting children with no parents or underprivileged kids, to develop their talents,” says Mihaela Stoykova, founder of Operation Teddy Bear. “We provide private lessons and individual mentors to the children, also workshop and contest participation, access to the materials they need and motivational meetings with prominent persons.”

Galin is in the 10th grade, lives in the Neophyte Rilski transit accommodation center in the Sofia neighborhood of Gorna Banya and studies in a class, focused on graphic design. He draws with his left hand, just like his icon Michelangelo and is pretty confident in recreating parts of the human body. Galin is also inspired by other Renaissance painters – Leonardo, Raffaello etc. Despite his remarkable progress, he still hesitates about his future direction: the art academy or the film and theatre one. For now he only dreams of 3D animation and movie directing.

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Снимка“He has diverse talents and would like to try different spheres,” Mihaela Stoykova says about Galin. “At the moment we help him develop his talent as a painter. Then he also plays the piano, beatboxes and would like to pursue the guitar and vocal path. His drawing mentor is really pleased with his current progress on the human body and the development of his technique.”

The kids receive weekly guidelines from their mentors for their chosen sphere.

“The role of the mentors is to see the children each week, developing skills for socialization, communication, overcoming of difficulties and developing their critical thinking,” Mihaela Stoykova explains. “Communication and friendship establishment guarantee the easier work with them. On the other hand we receive feedback on whether the kids are happy, what their dreams are and if they develop quickly enough. Since the approach has to be individual and serious, we train the mentors personally prior to letting them work with children.”

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Eight kids from this year’s program have been selected with the help of the respective institutions’ principals. Those develop their talents in the spheres of music, fine arts and sports. The society’s representatives say that they will do their best for the children with the greatest potential and will for hard work to continue with their training up till entering a university.

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Operation Teddy Bear needs EUR 40,000 per year, in order to develop the talents of 10 kids. For the moment the money is raised through donators, whose trust the association has won through its Christmas campaign Gift a Present to a Child. The raising of the money for the second year of the program, dedicated to talented underprivileged children is yet to be launched.

English version: Zhivko Stanchev

Photos: plushenomeche.org

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