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From tearaway to takeaway

By February 15, 2019April 12th, 2021Social Enterprises, Stories

Iskren had been heading for trouble from the day he was born. His mother died in childbirth and his father wanted nothing to do with him. Placed in an institution as a baby, Iskren grew up in an uncaring system that moved him from orphanage to orphanage throughout his childhood and teenage years.

These years were difficult and terrifying. Bullied by bigger children into begging, Iskren had to choose between the shame of asking strangers for money or the violence handed out to him if he refused or failed to meet expectations. Iskren turned to stealing in order to make money to pay off his tormentors. Unsurprisingly, he was caught, but being under age, he escaped heavier censure by the court.

Once, when he was 11 years old, three young men attempted to kidnap Iskren, but he escaped. Orphanage children make soft targets for abusers and traffickers.

After he turned 18, Iskren visited his biological father, tracking him down through social media. Unfortunately, this did not work out well, Iskren describing his dad as “not in good condition”.

Iskren needed a new direction. The road he was travelling down led only to ever more desperate measures, and surely, prison awaited. Iskren joined the House of Opportunity in 2018. He loves working at HOPe Restaurant, having developed a love of cooking after he left state care. He is smart and capable, but his troubled past lurks close, and he needs all the love and support that our team can provide.

“Iskren started work in our restaurant and is really helpful and develops his skills and knowledge”, says Georgi Kolev, who runs FSCI’s Social Enterprise Programme, “but many of his social habits are negative, so working with him is and will be a big challenge.”

Iskren was thrilled to be asked by Georgi to accompany him to a food industry award ceremony in Sofia where FSCI won a category for Social Enterprises. Iskren was so excited that he got up with Georgi and even spoke to the crowd about his experience of working at HOPe Restaurant and living at the House of Opportunity! Iskren’s past still calls to him, but increasingly he is looking to the future with a more positive attitude, and our team will do everything they can to help him into this new life.