Located in the west of Bulgaria, the capital city of Sofia is home to 1.2 million inhabitants. Sofia capital district is surrounded by the Sofia province within the southwestern region of the country.
The city is growing fast. Many families have moved to Sofia and its surroundings in search of a better life. Children, young people and families need support so that they can indeed improve their lives and stay together.
Since 2000, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Sofia.
Harmful social norms, inadequate sexual education and a lack of youth-friendly health services have resulted in an environment where 30% of children under 14 years have had sexual relationships.
As a result, 1 in 10 births are to adolescent mothers. Adolescent pregnancy poses health risks for mother and child, but also has a negative socio-economic effect on girls. They are often marginalized or are pressured into early marriage. Girls who become mothers at a young age often drop out of school, and this damages their future chances. More support needs to be given to young mothers and their babies so that they can both thrive.
An estimated 10% of Bulgaria’s population consists of Roma communities.
Roma children face marginalization and discrimination, including school segregation in Sofia and other regions. The education they receive is often of poor quality, they have low pass rates and high dropout rates. As a result, almost half of all Roma children in Bulgaria do not attend early education and 15% do not go to school at all.
Missed education is closely linked to poverty, child labour, and child marriage, robbing children of their childhoods, and depriving them of their rights.