Good Practices

Varna Community Foundation. Supporting the Educational and Labor Market Integration of Ukrainian Refugees in Varna, Bulgaria

The project aimed to aid the integration of Ukrainian refugees, both adults and children, residing in Varna with plans to stay for several years. Two primary objectives guided their efforts. Firstly, they sought to facilitate the educational integration of Ukrainian middle school students by establishing an after-school study hub dedicated to assisting them with Bulgarian language learning and homework. They collaborated with the ‘Energy’ Association, which specializes in after-school activities for children. A group of 20 Ukrainian students, ranging from grades 5 to 7, received daily support for homework preparation and the improvement of their Bulgarian language skills. Consequently, all of them successfully graduated in the 2022/23 school year. The group met at the after-school study hub every school day during the second semester, from February 1st to June 15th.

Secondly, their project aimed to support the labor market integration of Ukrainian adults in Varna by establishing a labor-market orientation hub offering computer literacy training and career guidance. They organized computer literacy courses for Ukrainian adults at the BNT Varna premises, accompanied by career orientation services. Additionally, they created and published an online handbook in the Ukrainian language to guide newcomers in navigating the Bulgarian job market. The handbook was distributed with the assistance of a refugee center dedicated to serving Ukrainian refugees in Varna. In total, 20 Ukrainian adults benefited from computer literacy training, career orientation, and preparation for job interviews. The success of job searches conducted by Ukrainian adults in Varna was greatly aided by the support of residents, including host families and their friends. Informal communication and community support played a crucial role in enhancing the effectiveness of their project.

Beyond the core educational and vocational objectives, they enriched the experience of their students. They organized historical excursions to Bulgaria’s old capitals, including Pliska, Veliko Tarnovo, Madara, and Veliki Preslav. Students engaged in interactive lessons focusing on Bulgarian history and culture. Furthermore, they received extracurricular training in ‘Computer Modeling.’ These supplementary activities were made possible through the collaboration of community parents, who were eager to foster integration between Ukrainian children and Bulgarian culture. Bulgarian students also joined the trips, enhancing informal communication and facilitating integration among the students.

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