Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria
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Home Improvements for Prevention of Child Abandonment

Stefka Marinova

Stefka, our primary beneficiary, shares a house with her sister and her sister’s family. Each of them has a separate room in a small house in Hrishteni, a village close to Stara Zagora.

Stefka has two children - Desi and Borislav, 5 and 4 years old. Stefka is not working because she is looking after her two children. Her husband Dobri is often away from home for long periods of time to take seasonal jobs and to make a living. His income is relatively good and the family’s basic needs are secured. Nevertheless, they cannot take a bank loan since Dobri’s income is not verifiable and is not received on a regular basis.

Stefka takes care of the house and wants her children to live in a neat and inviting place. In a HFH program presented to Stefka, she saw an opportunity to accomplish her plans and improve the living conditions of her home. Their house’s floor was damaged and covered by worn-out linoleum. The walls were spoilt; there were holes around the window and in the front door which let the wind and the cold inside.

Stefka borrowed US$130 from HFH Bulgaria to fix all these defects and will repay the small loan over 1 year with monthly installments of about US$12. With the help of her brother, who is skilled in construction works, they put a new base on the floor and plastered the walls after repairing the holes. In addition, they put nice colorful new wallpaper and replaced the linoleum. Now the room is much more inviting and better insulated than before.

The family was glad to have done these refurbishments before the winter started, so they could meet the severe January cold with less worries. When we paid them a visit after the renovation, Desi and Borislav were happily playing in the newly remolded warm room.

The family are planning to repay this first loan sooner than the one-year period and borrow an additional amount to keep making their place comfortable and secured. These are some of our most pleased beneficiaries.

Zoya’s Story

In the Roma neighborhood of Hrishteni village, just outside Stara Zagora, 32 years old Zoya lives with her three daughters (Zornica, 6 years old, Valeria, 5 years old and Diana, 1 year old.) The father abandoned the family and Zoya is now the “head” of the family.

Though Zoya is officially unemployed, she does not sit waiting for her social benefits. She seeks temporary work like cleaning houses, picking fruit and does other manual labor for a few leva a day. Thus, she manages to earn about US$150 to US$180 each month to support her family.

However, although the temporary jobs give them a shelter, Zoya does not have an employment contract, which makes her ineligible for bank loans or additional social benefits. Zoya's greatest hope is that she will be hired by the local mushroom farm and finally have a contract and secure long-term employment. While Zoya works, her parents, both pensioners, look after the children.

Their house is small and old, with many problems. Due to the house’s poor construction, one of the walls has been severely cracked and inclined dangerously. Furthermore, the roof starts to leak. These holes, in addition to the humidity of the area, let mold to creep into the house and created unsafe living conditions. The grandfather’s main concern is about the kids’ security. He fears that some day, the house might collapse onto their heads. It is the family’s wish to do some refurbishment to make the house livable.

In November 2008 Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria provided a small loan of about US$260 for them to reinforce the wall, which made the house more stable. They could afford this much, but it wasn’t enough to solve the whole problem - the wall still needs some additional reinforcement. As the loan repayment goes well so far and the family really wishes to keep on improving their living conditions, we are considering giving them additional loan for further repairs.

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