Star of Hope registered as a Bulgarian non-profit, NGO charity in 1999 with the mission of granting social services in the community to people in risk, young and old.
Star of Hope Foundation is:
- licensed by the State Agency of Child Protection for working with underprivileged children
- registered with the Ministry of Labour and Social policy for providing social services to underprivileged people
Friends of Bulgaria’s partnership with Star of Hope exists from c.2000 assisting the outreach work of the Sofia-based foundation addressing the diverse needs of the time:
- regional orphanages and children’s homes in Bobov Dol and Roman,
- special needs schools and homes in Dolno Draglishte, Blagoevgrad and Gotze Delchev
- prisoners’ family support at the Central Prison Sofia
Friends of Bulgaria’s sponsorship of Star of Hope Summer Camps since 2004 provides annual respite for residents of HalfwayHouse and former residents and staff and formative experiences of negotiating new environments in rural locations and new personal relationships enhancing personal self-awareness.
The funds Friends of Bulgaria advanced to Star of Hope for the Future and Hope project launched in 2005 financed the HalfwayHouse supported accommodation for adolescents without parental care entering adult life. Since opening in 2006, the HalfwayHouse with capacity for five residents plays an important role in the help given to 33 girls and 15 boys under the Future and Hope project preparing them for independent life.
Over the course of 1-2 years, residents are given guidance for
- shopping and cooking
- paying bills, accounting and budgeting
- communication skills: language and IT
- creative craft skills
- further education
- employment applications
- individual counselling, behaviour therapy and emotional support
- therapy for medical disability
leading to many securing part-time work and preparing for study at the Kliment Ohridski Sofia University and the Filaretova Medical College, Sofia.
Support at the HalfwayHouse is provided by
- a social worker
- steering residents in personal administration concerned with hospital treatments and social services
- counselling in personal relationships, behaviour and emotional difficulties.
- a House Mother guiding residents in domestic routines: shopping, housework and laundry.
Star of Hope Team
Replacing Star of Hope founder Emilia Manolova, who died on 28 February 2017, new director, Martin Evgeniev introduces the team at Star of Hope:
- Tania Koniarova: Coordinator, Future and Hope project for Children leaving Care
- Maria Dimitrova: Housemother at sheltered accommodation HalfwayHouse
- Liubka Ivanova: Social Worker for residents of HalfwayHouse past and present
Star of Hope projects and programmes 2017
Future and Hope Project: the Halfway House: residential sheltered accommodation for children (girls) leaving care with candidates referred from orphanage/care system, Roman, Vratsa District.
Star of Hope provide healthcare support, regular visits and summer camps at
- Family Centres for adults with Special Needs in Dolno Draglishte and Blagoevgrad
- Family Centres for children without parental care and Special Meeds in Roman, Vratsa
- Financial bursaries for learning skills support and speech therapy
- Material support for families in need: food bank, construction materials livestock, etc.
Summer Camp in Oreshak 2017
“You give roots to a child, and wings to the young man! But for him to fly, he needs support and encouragement.
For ten years we have been enjoying a unique time in Oreshak with former and current residents of our Halfway House, along with friends and volunteers.
It was a time of reaching for their inner life. These were moments of laughter, togetherness and a true touch to soul happiness. All of these summers have left some real memories of hope for the future. Our short walks in the neighbourhood, the home atmosphere of the village, as well as our casual communications and celebrations filled their empty reservoirs with love.
It gave each and every one of us a reason to believe again that it makes sense to fight, seek and to do good! The open and sincere conversations, mountain walks, evening games and dances were an unforgettable part of the shared family love and identity that is so necessary for every person.
We would like to thank every donor who gave not just money, but also their humane and unreserved attention.
That’s right, you have filled the hearts of these young people who grew up without parental affection and care with love, hope, and confidence that they were not alone and that they were not forgotten”
Emilia Manolova – Founder and director Star of Hope
The treasurer of Star of Hope, Martin Evgeniev informs Friends of Bulgaria of the sudden loss of their director Emilia Manolova, who died on 28 February. She had been struggling with health problems for a great many years and suffered a fatal relapse mercifully only a week long.
A committed Christian with an Evangelical vocation to others, Emilia set up Star of Hope in Sofia during the turbulent years following the collapse of Communist rule with the mission of charitable aid to those in need in remote institutionalised orphanages and special needs homes and also in prisons. Friends of Bulgaria’s first collaboration with Star of Hope concerned distributing Christmas gifts donated by churches in Northamptonshire at a Christmas party for prisoners and their families in Sofia.
Since Friends of Bulgaria’s introduction to Star of Hope c. 2000, a fruitful co-operation has developed between the two charities sharing a common agenda of aims and objectives focussing on children and adolescents without parental care. In the early years, Friends of Bulgaria facilitated Emilia’s initiatives for organising annual summer camps for children in homes and then endorsed her enterprise setting up a site of sheltered accommodation for girls in Sofia in 2005
Friends of Bulgaria’s long-standing support of Star of Hope’s work is largely indebted to Emilia’s unique personality. She was an unusually selfless person and to us, her softly spoken, impeccable English and self-effacing manner masked an unwavering focus on securing a better future for the people in her care, underpinned by her faith for knowing exactly how to do that effectively through resourceful management. Emilia displayed an exceptional gift for listening and her empathic approach inspired the trust of those in her care, the confidence of colleagues and the inspiration of donors and others to aspire to her dedicated commitment and endeavour, despite repeated personal setbacks because of serious health problems. During these last two decades of considerable achievement, Emilia leaves an impressive legacy of care which has transformed the lives of many, whether by treating physical disability, overcoming emotional distress or educating with social and practical life-skills together with educational and professional qualifications to lead independent adult lives.
Friends of Bulgaria deeply regret the loss of a reliable colleague whose friendship was a special privilege and pleasure of the partnership.
Personal Stories of recent HalfwayHouse residents
Vesselka graduated from college in pharmacy and now works as assistant pharmacist.
Veronika graduated from college and works now as laboratory analyst at First City Hospital, Sofia
Nadya’s progress with special needs to overcome mental retardation has achieved her part-time work in administrative and clerical tasks under constructive supervision at an Event organizing company.
Lora coming to HalfwayHouse last year, Lora is studying Biology at Sofia University, supporting herself by working part-time at BILLA Supermarket.
Aksinia arrived at HalfwayHouse this summer from the Roman Orphanage; she is enrolled at Sofia University to study Slavic Languages, now making the first steps in the Ukranian language, and supports her studies with weekend work at KFC.
Star of Hope Newsletter 2011
Director Emilia Manolova’s writes
“Our Halfway House programme has been going very well. Currently, the capacity of both apartments is full – we have 5 girls and 4 boys on the programme. I am pleased to inform you that as of September 2011, Vessy and Veronika from the Halfway House for Girls have started their studies in the Filaretova Medical College in Sofia. Vessy is studying “Assistant Pharmacist”, and Veronika – “Laboratory Worker”. Their first lessons seem to be very difficult for them and they need help in Biology and Chemistry. Out of all girls, only Veronika does not have a job yet. Roza and Tcetcka work in a restaurant, washing dishes and helping the cook respectively; Vessy works in a supermarket, and Nadya is a cleaner in the orphanage where she used to live.
In the Halfway House for Boys, our newest resident is Pavlin. He is a multi-talented person – tailoring, drawing, composing music and writing poems. He was abandoned and had a very rough life before joining our programme. His desire is to study in the Musical University.
Out of the 4 boys, 3 are studying in an Evening High School. The reason is that the Special Needs Vocational Training School which they finished this summer, does not give a diploma for high school education.
Sia, our speech therapist, is currently busy in both halfway houses. She conducts lessons, based on the individual needs, with Roza, Tcetcka, Mitko and Bobby. She is doing a very good job.
I would like to thank you and everyone else from Friends of Bulgaria for your help to Star of Hope for our Halfway House programme. Very sincerely and openly, I can assure you that our Halfway House Programme is very successful and lives are being changed there! Thank you!”
Star of Hope Summer Camps
Friends of Bulgaria has sponsored Summer Camps organised by Star of Hope since 2004.
These summer-time excursions bring together groups of up to twenty current residents of the HalfwayHouse with former beneficiaries of the Future and Hope project and supervisors leading group activities, designed to explore new environments in rural locations and new personal relationships.
In 2013 – 2016 Star of Hope Summer Camp has returned to the Troyan region with activities including:
- Visiting a crafts exhibition in Oreshak, the Wildlife Museum in Cherni Osam
- Creative arts and crafts: making greeting cards with dried flowers
- Walking the pilgrim track to the Troyan Monastery
- Sports and recreational games.
- Expeditions in the countryside, engaging with the natural world, collecting flowers
Star of Hope Newsletter 2015 – OUR SUMMER CAMPS
In July 2015, we had two very successful summer camps – one for underprivileged teenagers and one for young people without parental care. We all enjoyed the climb to a mountain waterfall with the teenagers, which is 1950 metres above sea level. By the way, the climbing was not very pleasant on some steep points for some of us, but when we reached our final destination, everyone agreed that it was worth making all the effort. The view was breath-taking!
Most of the teenagers who came to our camp have not enjoyed enough attention and care by their parents, so they appreciated every activity and every moment we spent together with them. We had time for fun, and time for serious talks as well. We presented to them the theme of human trafficking. After the talk, it was interesting to see how both girls and boys opened up to share with the camp leaders their personal experiences and to seek our advice.
One of the participants in our camp for young people without parental care was Mitko. He is now 21 years old and most of you would know his story. Star of Hope met him for the first time in the Roman orphanage 10 years ago. Due to Cerebral Palsy, Mitko had clubbed foot and could hardly walk when he was a little child.
In 2007-2008, Star of Hope organized two surgeries for him and postoperative orthopedic treatment. As a result of the operations and rehabilitation, Mitko started to walk and run like the other kids. Today Mitko lives in a Halfway House in Dryanovo. It was great to have him at our youth camp this summer. He is very fit physically. Also, his faith is an inspiration for many. Examples like Mitko motivate us to continue helping and serving these underprivileged young people, in spite of the challenges.
Other Star of Hope Projects supported by Friends of Bulgaria
- Supplying winter clothing for the Special Needs School, Dolno Draglishte
- Christmas reunion of families and prisoners, Bobov Dol
- Children’s homes in Blagoevgrad region (funds raised by Northamptonshire Christmas Card Recycling)
- Central Prison, Sofia: Christmas gifts from Northamptonshire parishes distributed to prisoner’s children
- Summer Camp, Special Needs School, Roman
- Supplying IT equipment for the Special Needs School, Gotze Delchev
- Summer Camp at Baba Stana, near Troyan
- Winter clothing, Special Needs Schools Dolno Draglishte
- Special Needs Vocational Training School, Sofia: Christmas party