European Institute Foundation - branch Ruse
The main aim of the project is to improve the environmental education of the youngest citizens of Ruse and their parents/families - mainly young, working, active people. Young families and their members will be involved in a set of interactive and participative set of activities (training, workshops, camp), that will improve the awareness and knowledge of the problem of pollution and identify possible effective ways to address it locally, while creating relevant skills among the youngsters.
Ruse, Marten and Nikolovo, Ruse Province (BG323), Northern BG
Ruse has been polluted since the 1980s - cross-border by the Verahim chemical plant in Giurgiu, Romania. Then the government's refusal to deal with the problem sparked the first civil protests in before 1989, which led to the creation of civic organizations for the first time in Bulgaria during the communist regime, before its fall. The problem was not solved at that time, but disappeared due to the self-destruction of the plant that was the key pollutant. Now 40 years later, Ruse is again a victim, this time of the own local production. The air has been systematically polluted and there is increased morbidity and even an ecological migration has been observed lately. As a consequence, in Ruse, in the last two school years, 400 children less than expected were enrolled in the 1st grade
The citizens in Ruse need more information about their rights as European citizens in the field of ecology, environmental pollution and in general about effective possible ways to deal locally with the problem. Despite attempts by several formal and informal civic groups and organizations to attract the attention of local and national authorities, the problem remains unresolved and continues to threaten the health and lives of people in the community. Raising the awareness of active young people will help to create a critical mass of citizens who will actively perform their rights to the authorities and form a vision for addressing the problem. Thus young citizens will be encouraged to take steps and leave smaller footprints, while tackling the air pollution issue.
The best way to protect the environment is to help children grow up with a love for the Earth. Environmental education based on life experiences should begin in the very earliest years of life. Such experiences play a critical role in shaping lifelong attitudes, values, and patterns of behaviour toward environment. Talking to children about taking care of the Earth is far less effective than demonstrating simple ways of expressing care. This approach could only be achieved if a mix of relevant groups is such working in the field of environmental protection actively engaged. To this end the projects aims to directly involve:
120 children and their respective families;15 pedagogical staff working with them in the education system. The beneficiaries will be all citizens living in the region.
The following set of complementary and mutually interrelated activities are proposed:
- Identification and training of teachers/other pedagogical staff (18 overall). This target group will be trained in the sphere of environmental protection and more specifically how to address and interactively teach issues related to the sphere in question;
- Design of cocreative interactive toolbox;
- Organisation of a series of 6 interactive series of school lessons/workshops (6 classes *20 pupils ) with the active role and participation of the trained teachers;
- Establishment of three local ecological yearly initiatives in Ruse, Marten and Nikolovo;
- Awareness- raising, Social and traditional media campaign;
- Project management.
The project will lead to the creation of a local group of multipliers to be educated and trained to address the issue of environmental protection. The target group of children, parents and teachers will be empowered to become problem-solvers and critical thinkers. The foundation of the civic education in the environmental field among the youngest members of the society in Ruse will be facilitated and the formation of small active influence groups will be supported. They would be able to freely state their requirements for clean air and water and protect their rights of EU citizens in this domain. Thus, the project will contribute towards the creation of an environment where a healthier and responsible generation will grow up, similarly to their parents and grandparents some 40 years ago.
Unfortunately, in the last years, Bulgaria has been pointed out as one of the most corrupt and with the least freedom of speech countries. As a result, the level of democracy in Bulgaria creates some concerns. By providing issue-based civic education to the youngest and their parents and teachers, this project would contribute to the creation of small, critical and active interest and influence groups at a local level. It will also increase and highlight the benefits of the work of non-governmental civil society organizations that fight for a fair and democratic society in Bulgaria. This approach will turn into an effective model that could be potentially multiplied in other regions, nationally and at EU level and thus strengthen democracy in Europe.
Key members of the team were born and raised in Ruse, were part of the children of Ruse, who passed through the cross-border gassing of the town in the 1980s. They have been actively working and got involved in civic initiatives aimed at obtaining objective information about the real state of the air and the damage caused by pollution to the citizens living in the region. It is no coincidence that more and more young families choose to leave the city due to the deteriorating health of their children. This is a process that repeats itself in a lifetime and is particularly painful and impossible to observe impartially. The normal desire to live and work in the place you love, where you were born and where your loved ones are, is a very strong motivation to address such a fundamental issue.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Staff (Experts, Trainers, Administrative) 19200 EUR (12*1600);
Local travel 1000 EUR;
Awareness raising campaign 6500 EUR;
Design of cocreative interactive toolbox 6300 EUR;
3 Local yearly Initiatives 15000 EUR (3*5000 EUR)
Total Budget - 48000 EUR (including the applicant’s own contribution - 2400 EUR 5% of the Total Budget);
Funding requested from Civic Europe - 45600 EUR (95% of the Total Budget)
It would be useful if we get advice from organisations working in areas with highly polluted and environment related to some unpopular and yet effective activities that would help address the problem. All good practices are of interest to the local community, as the motivation of the citizens is low