For an eight consecutive year the Cedar Foundation welcomed a group of students from the International School of Zug and Luzern, Switzerland. This time they visited the children and youngsters supported by Cedar in Kystendil. For two days the students supported different volunteering initiatives in the family-type centres, as well as in the Centre for social rehabilitation and integration in the town of Kystendil.
During the first day of their stay, the volunteers visited the institutional Centre for children with mental disabilities in the village of Gorna Koznitsa, which has been closed with the support of the Foundation in 2010. They got the possibility to see the living conditions in the former institutional house and understand more about the every-day life in an institution.
At the next day the students visited all different services managed by Cedar in Kystendil and met our children and youngsters, as well as the Cedar team. According the Bulgarian hospitality tradition, the guests were welcomed with a home-made bread with salt and honey and a traditional folk-dance performance. After visiting the services, the swiss volunteers discussed the significant difference between the institutional home in Gorna Koznitza and the family-type centres in Kystendil, where the children and youngsters live in much better conditions and get personalized support and every-day care.
For two days the students participated in different volunteering activities together with some of the clients and members of Cedars staff. They supported the construction of a flower garden, painted the walls in several houses and the staircase in one of the apartments. In addition, the volunteers constructed furniture pieces from pallets, put together a tent and several swings in the garden, as well as made a sensory path, which will be used during therapy sessions in the Centre for social rehabilitation and integration.
At the end of the first day the swiss volunteers participated in a folk-dance lesson together with youngsters from the family-type homes. The dancing helped both groups to relax and get to know each other better, so that they managed to establish a stronger connection to each other.
At the last day of their stay, we organized a farewell party for the volunteers. They thanked the Cedar Foundation team for the warm welcoming and the insightful experiences. “The way you welcomed and treated us was great! This experience changed our lives and we will never forget it!” – shared one of the volunteers.
The Cedar Foundation expressed its gratitude by honouring the volunteers with certificates and awarding them small gifts crafted by the children and youngsters from the services.
The Cedar team hopes to sustain the long-standing partnership with the International School of Zug and Luzern and the Foundation will be able to greet its swiss friends again in 2019!