Broken windows project by CVS-Bulgaria

The first story about how SCI's Refugee Fund is used has arrived from our Bulgarian branch, CVS Bulgaria, and it talks about a clean backyard, a big mural and better living conditions. 

According to Broken Windows Theory, urban landscape and urban disorder can cause higher crime rates and anti-social behaviour. Inspired by this theory as well as UNHCR’s Global Public Space Programme, CVS -Bulgaria organized a project funded by the Refugee Fund to revert the negative trends in Voenna Rampa, reception center for asylum seekers in Sofia, by “space reclaim and improvement journey” within the common spaces and involving refugees in the improvement of their living conditions. For four days more than 50 volunteers involving locals, refugees and asylum seekers cleaned the playground and backyard, halls and walls leading to the classroom, painted a big mural and created a blackboard wall where kids can practice what they have learned during classes.

The project idea was created and developed by Cynthia Garibay, Federica Piga and Nina Stoyanova, active volunteers in The Refugee Project, together with the active partnership of Open Space foundation, a local organization dedicating its activities to art and cultural dialogue. The project is part of SCI’s Building Bridges campaign for raising awareness about the issues faced by asylum seekers and refugees and to promote more understanding.

During the project the artistic intervention as well as the joint effort to improve living conditions of refugees also helped locals to better understand the difficulties refugee’s face not only in Bulgaria but also through their whole travel to Bulgaria. Mutual understanding as well as solidarity and community work greatly impacted both the refugees’ and the locals’ perception of “otherness”, while working towards a tangible objective: improving the conditions of the refugee camp.

Katerina Stoyanova from CVS Bulgaria tells us more about the project: “We decided to apply for the project because we have witnessed the deterioration of the conditions in the camp and the lack of communication/cooperation between the inhabitants of the camp, the staff and the locals. We wanted to set a precedent for initiating monthly activities like this and prove that cooperation for creating better living conditions in camps is possible. The funding from The Refugee fund was very important as within The Refugee project funding there was not a budget line for space improvements outside of the classroom we use. The plans for the next year include applying for the Refugee Fund with similar projects, addressing needs, which the local NGO and institutions do not meet using inclusive empowering approaches, which CVS-Bulgaria believes are critical to be adopted within each project in the forced migration area.”

 

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