To have or to survive


My name is Joanna and I live in a village near Sofia. I have learned to appreciate small gestures, kind words, smiles and nods of greeting. My childhood passed in this village and it is as if the years pass like sand between my fingers. Every effort to keep the happy moments is worth it. I grew up in poverty, but come to think of it, I had one of the greatest treasures for a child – the love of my parents. They raised me to be modest in my desires and to dream of my children growing up as good people. The village gives more freedom to children, gives peace, they can also attend kindergarten. What is missing in the villages is the opportunity to find a suitable job. Before Stoyan was born, I worked as a shopkeeper and I liked to communicate with people. Your job gives you security, but my longing was to start a family. I fell in love with my husband and I was sure that I could reach the end of the world with him and if we were both we could go on. Time, however, disproved me – after the birth of Stoyan followed our separation. I was left with a small child, alone, scared and without any income. My ex-husband forgot he had a child and didn’t care how we lived. My return to my hometown was the only way out and I had to learn to deal with everything. Food for me and the child, heating, medicines… I started to save electricity and turn off the refrigerator, the boiler. I don’t have a TV, I don’t have internet, and my phone is only for emergencies and for my relatives to contact me. These are my decisions and I think they are right as soon as I manage to provide the most necessary things for my son. The Child Protection Department, which monitors my child, had contacted Hope and homes for children – Bulgaria to help me. They work on a model of active family support, and when things got frustrating for me, one of their team called me to ask, “How are you? How is the child? How is your health?”. I never complain, but they always find a way to support me without being intrusive. Even just talking gives me hope.

My dream was for Stoyan to go to kindergarten and for me to find a job and that happened. The joy did not last long, because he began to get sick often and I had to leave work.

The COVID-19 pandemic also found us in this state. I was left with less than BGN 100 monthly income. Social isolation, lack of information and this unclear pandemic situation kept me awake, and I woke up every night for fear of getting sick. I am grateful to CEZ for the support they have provided me over the last six months. I know I can handle it, but the fear of the child getting sick is always in me. I will not send the child to kindergarten again, because he may become infected, and I do not have money for medicines. In this situation, I have to choose between having more money or being healthy. I have no idea if there are other people in Bulgaria who live with the fear that they may become infected with the coronavirus, but I have been living with this fear for months. The “Together we can do everything” campaign gave me a sip of freedom, but this social isolation puts me to new challenges. The masks, the lack of a handshake and the distance when communicating, all this is not known how long it will last. I believe that people will find a cure for the disease, but will they cope with their fears? When I look into my child’s eyes, I feel that everything I do will keep Stoyan healthy. Every new day he will be able to discover a new country in this interesting world. Like wooden cubes you will build your spaces of happiness.

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