Inspired by the #BeTheChange Workshop in Sofia, one of the participants, Mirella Karadzhova, realized a national initiative called Friendly Stories:
A very positive and inspiring national initiative which aimed to promote tolerance and acceptance of other cultures using arts and creativity. It encouraged Bulgarian and migrant children living in Bulgaria to tell their stories about international friendship through drawing and short stories. In the form of a ‘competition’, the audience was invited to vote on Facebook for the pictures/stories they liked best. The winners’ awards consisted of special mugs with the drawings and art materials. All entries were collected in an online book and their authors received online certificates. The project was promoted by Caritas in the refugee centers in Sofia as well as a number of schools and NGOs across the country. A special workshop was organized in Burgas as part of the program of Africa Day 2018. The project was launched for 1st June, International Children’s Day and received wide national media interest – Bulgarian National Radio, Nova TV (second most popular television in the country) as well as numerous local and online media. It also became quite popular on Facebook due to a number of parents who were widely sharing the entries of their children encouraging friends to ‘like’ them.
In the media:
- Interview on Bulgarian National Radio (Burgas) (video)
- Nova TV presentation
- Good Story presentation
- Pleven for Pleven presentation
- Zov News presentation
Alexandra Tsvetkova – 10 years old, 4th grade, “Unity” Primary School in Pleven
Here is her entry:
“Children have no colors! It doesn’t matter if someone is white, black or yellow, when you feel that you have a soul mate to share both good and bad moments with! I made a drawing with my friends Eilin and Vivian. Eilin lives in Turkey, but every summer she comes to Bulgaria to visit her grandparents. Vivian is a mulatto. Three of us, we have a lot of fun each summer. We love to walk and play together, but we most of all we enjoy making a picnic outdoors. We have no specific experience that is more precious for us than the others, because every moment we spend together is unique and unforgettable. But one thing is sure – three of us, we all dream of a better world in which peace, love and understanding between all people are to prevail.”
Petya Dimitrova, 7 years old, 1st grade, “Ivan Vazov” Primary School in Ruse
Here is her entry:
“One of my favorite places is the ballet hall. There I met talented and good girls of Turkish, Russian, Armenian and Indian origin, with whom we became friends. Pauline, Deffne, Asle, Mariam, Ravi, Madeleine, Larissa, Vanessa, Xenia and the rest of our ballet band – together we rehearse, play, celebrate our birthdays and it’s really fun. A general memory is our photos of concerts. We participated together in a celebration of the different ethnic groups. We all love sweets and before our team comes out on stage, our trainer gives us candies. This ritual is pretty much our favorite one. Our dream is to be great ballerinas, to become better and better and to be a cooperative and successful team. We help each other in difficulties and each one tries as much as possible to support the others in order to get a beautiful dance, our team to do well and everyone to applaud us when we are on stage. Our parents have also become friends. Being of different ethnicities is only an advantage, as we speak a few languages freely, and our lives are more interesting with the variety of celebrations and customs of each of us. Even if we are different from each other, our common enthusiasm – the ballet, brings us together, and in the swirl of dance our differences completely disappear and we are a beautiful, inspired and wonderful whole.”
The project is featured as a good practice in the Exit / Entrance Report: Lessons learnt from workshops and social actions.
The initiative is part of the Empowering Communities in Europe project is co-financed by the EU.