Learning instead of begging

Giving Roma children a chance: literacy programme for Roma children in Bulgaria


Officially about 400,000 Roma live in Bulgaria. Half of them live in villages where they have no work. The other half are isolated, living segregated in city districts. Neglect of basic hygiene and poor living conditions help to spread diseases. Many children can neither read nor write. The daily search for food seems more important than schooling, and so children mostly go out to beg instead of to school. But without education there is no chance of escaping this cycle. During the past 15 years of transition to democracy and a market economy, the 400,000 Roma in Bulgaria have become even more socially deprived. A large number of the children living in Bulgaria's children's homes are Roma. These children know nothing of equal opportunities.

The project

The object is to teach the children growing up in poverty a basic knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic, enabling them to attend a state school later. Many children take part in the literacy programme to back up the teaching at school. In this tuition, each child can be given specific support appropriate to their individual rate of learning. The Bible is also used as learning material, and so the children hear of the hope that Jesus Christ would like to give them. Above and beyond this, the participants in the programme are provided with a free midday meal as well as clothing and shoes. The children can hope for the chance of a life beyond the streets and the prospect of training and employment. Tuition takes place in the Sofia, Yambol and Burgas areas. All in all, at the moment five team members support about 80 children and young people aged 6 to 18.

Reponse to the project

"For some years I have been working as a teacher in the educational programme for Roma children. Every day, about seventeen  8 to 14-year-olds from the poorest families of the area come. Although they should have long since been at school, not one of them has started school yet. They can neither read nor write. My aim is not only to teach them reading, writing and arithmetic and to send them to school, but also to talk about the Christian faith with them regularly."
Team member in Sophia

"Before I started tuition I could neither read nor write, but today I can even do multiplication. When I started school, the teacher even spoke highly of my good reading and writing. She even said so in front of the headmaster. I am very glad that I am now doing well at school."
Plamena, aged 9


Project costs: approx. 13,500 € per year
for children's meals, clothing, teaching materials, classroom and transport charges, for teachers' pay and transport costs