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“Mission Wings” Foundation – in an endeavour to integrate refugees

Diana Dimova
Photo: Mission Wings Foundation

Public sentiments regarding refugees are mixed, they are frequently viewed through the prism of prejudice and are rarely understood. The “Mission Wings” foundation from Stara Zagora has the mission of breaking this stereotype by building on the work of the informal volunteer group “Support for Refugees – Stara Zagora”. The two organizations bring together people from different walks of life and with various professions.

Some of the refugees choose Bulgaria to be their temporary or permanent home. Their children go to ordinary Bulgarian schools and are said to cope very well because they manage to learn the language very quickly and to integrate. Still, they have to face hostility and fear. 

“We help people from the region accept these people, see them as an asset not as a threat,” says Diana Dimova, chair of “Mission Wings”. “Two of the most popular projects of the volunteers – “Something Different”, financed by the Community Donation Fund – Stara Zagora and “Inclusion”, financed by the Bulgarian Fund for Women, are aimed precisely at changing the attitudes to refugees. Most local people come here to help the refugees. During the discussions we hear all kinds of theories about the wars in the Middle East, things get politicized and the human aspect is pushed to the background. As is known, for most refugees Bulgaria is just a starting point on their journey to Western Europe, where many of our compatriots have also chosen to make their home in recent years. More than 2,000 people have passed through the region of Stara Zagora, and most of them have gone west.
“Mission West” is to launch one more project this year, jointly with UNICEF- Bulgaria. The aim is to raise awareness of gender-based violence among the people at the registration and reception centres in Harmanli and Banya village. They will be able to find out what the rights of the victims, and what the sanctions against the offenders are. The project is targeted at helping victims recover from such experiences and move on. Most refugees are very traumatized, they come from regions where they have seen a great deal of suffering. Skeptic attitudes can be altered with a change in perspective, by organizing joint initiatives, and with media coverage, like the coverage in your “A home far from home,” says Diana Dimova from the “Mission Wings” foundation in Stara Zagora.

Translated from the Bulgarian: Milena Daynova

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