Members of the EQ team recently supported an initiative of the city’s student council and a group from the School of Fashion and Design. Students interviewed an experienced professional foster parent, Mrs. Iva Nikolova. Discussion groups convened on November 21, the day of the Christian family and the International Day for Tolerance – 16 November – focused on the challenges faced by foster parents in the larger context of social and cultural tolerance and understanding.
Mrs. Nikolova has been a foster parent since 2007 who has also raised a family of her own and is now a grandmother. Her parenting experience has been tested to the full caring for children removed from institutional care. Her most recent charge has significant disabilities. She explained to the children how institutional care is detrimental to the development of children, yet many spent 14 or more years in such an environment. Her eyes lit up and her pride was obvious when she described the rapid progress in the development of the disabled youngster.
Some of the students were keen to share their thoughts and opinions:
Bettina, from 10th grade – “This is the first time I’ve met a foster mother. It’s really great that the foster child is among her own children and the whole family wants to help children in need.”
Preslava, 10th grade – “It was very interesting. This is a great thing to do – to take a child that you don’t know, take him in your arms and love him as your own child. I am very glad that Mrs. Nikolova came to our school and told us what it’s like to become a foster parent!”
Nicoletta, 10th grade – “My impression of our meeting is that this woman has a huge heart. She has helped so many children and taught them to read, write, educate them.”
Bernarda, 10th grade – “To me it’s fabulous that she took the time to come and share how she likes to look after children. I am proud of this woman, because although she has her own children, she helps a lot of children without parental care and love.”
Marinella, 10th grade – “This meeting – talking with the foster mother – was really interesting and changed my whole attitude about foster parents and abandoned children.”
Christian, 10th grade – “I am glad that there are people to help children in this way. This will help close baby homes. Mrs. Nikolova told us how one of her foster children has a serious muscle problem. This made me even more proud that there are such people, because taking care of a child who has problems is a really big responsibility.”
Such discussions are part of the annual plan of the Student Council. High school students are both active volunteers and collaborators in planning EQ initiatives.
Mrs. Nikolova said that her meeting with young people was very rewarding because of their sensitivity to fate of vulnerable children and people who need help.