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“Sofia with a book”: Books find their readers even on public transport

You don’t have to own much to want to give a lot. This holds true of a boy who grew up in a social home, and for four years has been giving – food for the body but also food for the soul.

Eighteen-year old Kiril Baldev is the heart of the campaign “Sofia with a book” which aims to bring books to us wherever we may be – on the bus, on the subway, in the street, in the park. He launched his idea by handing out different books in the centre of the capital city, and on the Sofia-Bourgas train.

“Sofia with a book aims to draw attention to books,” he says. “And also to encourage people to read more, including on public transport, and to give better access to literature. I have conducted other campaigns connected with books but this time I decided it should be in Sofia because I live here now.”

Kiril’s idea is that people on the subway, on buses, trams and trolleybuses will be offered books to read, and that they, in turn, will leave books of their own in their place. The boy believes in people’s honesty and is hoping no vehicle will be left without a book.

“I think there are enough people who are conscientious who will not take advantage of the campaign,” Kiril adds. “And as it will be a year-round initiative I am hoping people will get accustomed to taking books, and then leaving other books in their place. Besides on public transport, books will be donated in parks and in central locations in the capital city. A more distant aim is for the panel at every public transport stop to show what time books will be handed out.”

In his initiative he was lent a helping hand by the Sofia City Library which has promised to set up a book donation point, by publishing houses who sell him books at a discount, by schools and by friends. This is not the first campaign Kiril has undertaken. He started four years ago, when, together with friends, he collected around 100 volumes for the chitalishte (culture community club) in the village where he was born Menekyovo which burnt down. “Then we thought we shouldn’t collect books only when there has been a fire, but that we should look for chitalishta in need of books all the year round,” Kiril says. Since then he has been collecting books on Facebook and donating them to educational establishments that need books. At Christmas and Easter he provided food for elderly people who live alone in many villages. He has been raising money for a school friend injured in a road accident.

“I have been organizing campaigns like this one because they bring me a sense of satisfaction, of being complete,” Kiril says. “And I can see that books somehow help people – and also we should do more for one another, shouldn’t we?”

Kiril Baldev is currently studying, in individual form, at the school of mathematics in Pazardzhik. He wants to evolve so that, as he puts it, he can be part of society and do more for Bulgaria. One of the first things he did when he came to Sofia was to subscribe to the National Library.

“I think any book is worth reading,” he says. “That is why I read all kinds of different books, because the information they provide can come in handy some time in the future. I love to read everything, but the genre I love best is psychology, and also detective stories.”

After graduating school, Kiril wants to study political science. But not because he wants to go into politics, because Bulgarians are badly disposed towards all politicians – good and bad. What he will try to do is establish a movement of all Bulgarians, wherever they may come from and whatever their job, and each one, with their ideas, can give something of themselves to benefit the country.

Photos: private library

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