Verzhinya Haralampieva, team leader, Kyustendil

We meet Verzhi as she has taken over for a fellow social colleague she is replacing. She talks about how “the kids” have just eaten, they are relaxed and resting, and she is busy with tasks. The serenity of her kind nature comes through in conversation with her, and in every personal encounter so far. Surely it is this serenity and her big smile that makes the young people love her so much. We suggest you get to know her too.

How did you decide to go into social work?

It happened quite by accident. I’m an economist and I was working in a bank, but I felt that it didn’t suit me at all. I found out from a friend that Cedar was looking for an occupational therapist and decided to give it a try. I liked it a lot. For me, the people who work here take their work as a calling. I’ve been working at the foundation for two and a half years and I feel the same way.

I like working with the young people and I feel at home here – if I don’t see them for longer I miss them, like my children.

In the meantime, I enrolled in a Pedagogy degree program because I think it’s important for my development. Eventually, I was invited to become a ‘Team Leader’, and this further motivated me and gave me the confidence to do well.

  • What do you like most about your job?

The fact that I get satisfaction that I can’t get in any other place. It’s not like being told “thank you”. I see that gratitude and appreciation in the eyes of the youth, in their demeanor when I’m with them. It makes me feel happy. I know I am important to them and they are happy with me too.

I also really like the dynamics in my work. As I mentioned, I am an economist, but if I only have to do administrative work, I don’t enjoy it so much. And here I have a great dynamic and my work is very complex, it combines different things and that gives me the balance I need.

  • What do you like to do outside of it?

Time with my family is precious and outside of work I’m mainly with my kids. We love to go for walks, be in nature. We have a house in a mountain village and we look after dogs, rabbits, chickens and other animals there.

My husband and I are beekeepers and we have about 50 hives – we even brought beekeeping into the centres a while ago by making an ornamental tree with bees with the youngsters. It was very interesting for them.

  • Tell us a fun story of working with the youth.

We had a lot of laughs today with one of the youth, Sisi. I had to cover a shift for one of the occupational therapists and while straightening up Avzira’s bed, Sissy walked past me and said “Well done, Verzhi, well done! You’re doing very well!”

It was very sweet and funny that he complimented me on how well I was doing. 🙂


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