Contemporary households commonly consist of married couples or couples with children. Three generations living in one home is also very common with grandparents caring for children, cleaning, cooking and shopping. This being a necessity as both parents need to work to support the family in most urban areas. Another contributing factor is the housing shortage in Bulgaria.
Most Bulgarians tend towards single-child families with no more than two children to provide greater opportunities and resources for their families. Minorities such as the Romani culture tend towards larger families. Children three to six of age may attend state-run kindergartens, where available. Heavy-handed discipline is uncommon, although children are brought up to obey and respect parental authority.
Common Social Issues
As of January 2005, the Bulgarian government raised the minimum wage by 25%, to $90 USD per month or $1080 USD per year. The currency rate is currently $1 USD= $1.49 Bulgarian Lev. Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in the European Union and aims at raising standards in many areas to meet EU levels.
Current issues that Bulgaria is facing and working at finding solutions to include unemployment, the aging population, changes in economic gender roles and environmental problems. There is also a low level of spending on health care, education and social protection. Bulgaria will also need to address such problems as combating high levels of corruption and introducing reforms in the judicial system and public administration to ensure proper law enforcement.
Orphans in Bulgaria
More than 20,000 children in Bulgaria are institutionalized. Approximately 90% due to poverty. Their families lacking resources to care for basic needs such as food, diapers, clothing, heating fuel and medical care. There is also a lack of acceptance of unwed mothers.
Another sad but very real factor in Bulgaria is discrimination with most orphaned children of the Romani descent. This people group are unable to obtain jobs and lack needed resources to care for their children. They feel they have no other choice and are unable to cope. These vulnerable children are abandoned to life in an institution as due to discrimination they have little chance of being adopted by a Bulgarian family.
Orphanages in Bulgaria have improved a great deal since becoming part of the European Union although it is not an ideal environment for any child to thieve and reach their greatest potential physically, emotionally or developmentally. Bulgaria does recognized this and is working towards providing more foster homes.
The long term future of these children is horrible and makes my stomach turn every time I read the astonishing and bleak statistics. Less than half of the orphan population in Eastern Europe will live to see their 20th birthday. Of those orphans that survive half will end up homeless, in organized crime, drug abuse and prostitution. When an orphan reaches 16 to 18 years old they are left to fend for themselves with no family, little education,life skills, a job or a place to live. Again these children are left abandoned and forgotten.
We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa
Though this seems much bigger than one can handle alone, hope is not lost. I am no savior but I am able to love and this I will do. Though this world is broken, shaken, all mixed up and we all have our fault lines, we can step outside of our comfort zone and give love in big and small ways. Whether it is across the ocean or across the street, we can be Jesus to those who are hurting and need someone to truly see them and say in our actions, “You are not abandoned and you are never forgotten. I see you. He see’s you.”
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:37-40 NIV
[This post is part of the Heart for Bulgaria series. An overview of our research on the country of Bulgaria.]