OXAB has been operating in orphanages in Bulgaria since 2001 and it is our longest continuously running project to date. Our work in Bulgaria is based around helping children in orphanages, street children's centres and other institutions.
A typical trip lasts two to three weeks, although it’s possible (and cheap!) to go travelling afterwards. Any money that you fundraise before leaving will go much further on art materials etc in Bulgaria than here in Britain!
What to Expect
While most of our trips are to orphanages, these vary enormously in the conditions for the children, and in the number of disabled children in the institutions. Your likely activities depend very much on the children’s age and ability. While with some placements, especially the street kids’ centres, you might be organising sports and other outdoor activities, or, for example art, drama, or even English lessons, in others the children will be less able and less active, and so your work would be restricted to more basic interaction, and to helping the staff with work around the centre.
Volunteers play a crucial role in giving the children much-needed attention and organising activities during the otherwise unstructured school holidays. In general, the language barrier is a relatively minor difficult and OXAB provide you with language lessons and information before you go. We have English speaking contacts in Bulgaria who arrange placements, accommodation and arrival at the orphanage and who act as a point of contact throughout the trip.
Getting to Bulgaria
Typically, you’ll travel by plane to Sofia Airport - while there is an airport near Varna on the Black Sea coast, it’s almost certainly going to be far cheaper to fly to Sofia and get the train across the country - a ticket to travel the full length of the country costs only £7 or £8. A good deal on a flight will get you there, usually via another European airport, from just over £60. Train links across the country are reasonably good, though sometimes slow - be careful to take the express trains wherever possible! Budget airlines are also starting to fly to Varna and Burgas on the Black Sea, so be sure to check them out.