A House of Opportunity has become a haven for a group of particularly vulnerable young women. Houses are usually mixed, but FSCI has changed its normal approach to better serve the individuals currently in the programme, and of the two Houses in Sofia, one is now for young women. And for this group, the space is really important. All have broken families and have spent time in child institutions. Some have come out of seriously damaging relationships with men, where they were at risk of further exploitation.
Girls like Ivanka*, whose home life was next to impossible with an alcoholic father, and siblings that included a severely disabled brother. She has many personal struggles, and finds dealing with daily, normal activities a real challenge.
Then there is Daniela*, whose mother died when she was young, and who endured violent abuse by her father. Eventually, she and her three sisters were put into state care. Foster families, a pregnancy, bad relationships with boys, and a failed attempt to join her sister in another country have taken their toll.
Each of the young women have fear-filled stories of rejection, abuse, or exploitation. The House of Opportunity is now giving them a place to deal with their pasts and start to forge futures full of hope and possibility. Each has shown that given the right support, they can start to turn things around. Two are now holding down jobs, one is finishing school. Another will begin university this month. Still another will start at medical college.
Stoyan is the Sofia House of Opportunity manager. “In this configuration the girls have the opportunity to express more of their feminine nature. This contributed some positive effects: the apartment acquired a different look – cleaner and tidier; despite all the emotional problems that these girls have, the atmosphere is very different; more often we come to emotional conversations – the worries that concern them, the fears they live with. The formation of a women’s home is very positive, the residents have a real opportunity to be themselves. It is easier to see the problems without distractions and the need to play and show strength”.
These young women have never had the time and space just to be themselves. At the House of Opportunity, the team will do all that they can to help them break with their past and find a place of their own.
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