Community development, Human rights

What's The Problem?

Finding solutions to human rights problems and building a space for local voices to be heard on a national level


Who is behind this?

Danislava Toshkova

Reflektor Foundation


Who is joining forces?

Training Factory


Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge



Idea pitch

In a city where poverty and human rights violations are a norm, youngsters and working-class people cannot defend themselves from social injustices in any way and become hostages to a poor living environment that degrades even more over time. Through a documentary approach, community meetings, training, and online platform, the project will show those in despair that social challenges can be overcome and give them a reason to stand for their rights, both as individuals and as a community.

Where will your project idea take place?

Pernik, west Bulgaria

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The project tackles:
• people’s lack of education what to do when they face human rights violations at home, in school, at work or in public
• the disbelief in any institutional support, whether governmental or non-governmental
• the lack of national media coverage on personal stories and systemic lawlessness in the area

We will motivate the locals and give them knowledge & skills to be active in civic life on topics they relate to by solving concrete problems. People are very skeptical of NGOs and experts because they “don’t see any real improvement in their life but only superficial & formal activities” (quote from field research of people’s attitudes towards NGOs in Pernik). They need to see our actions striving for systemic change, not just a project with a start and end.

Who are you doing it for?

Participants in social documentary photography workshop:
-45 young people (18-29-y.o.)
Participants in community meetings and civic education training:
-30 working-class people who face any social injustice and think it’s unsolvable or doesn’t know what to do
10 people from the two groups will be portraited and projected on buildings along with their social message or question towards the authorities.
Participants in the online platform who can ask our experts (anonymously or not) questions about human rights violations and how to overcome them: we’ve secured 100 detailed answers for the project period and we are welcoming NGO members, lawyers, political scientists, sociologists and other academics to share their knowledge pro bono and be active in answering challenging questions.

How do you plan to get there?

Building an online platform where people can ask questions about what to do: when their rights are violated; when they are forced or oppressed to do something they don’t want to; when they witness a crime or are involved in it; when they wonder which institution should tackle with their problem, etc.

Participants will learn to interact with their environment in a new way by expressing their minds and shaping their voices as active citizens through photography (3 days/week for 2 months)

10 meetings of people who have a specific problem with experts who can give them solutions and how to approach them. The meetings are practically oriented, dealing with real issues.

The course will share strategies and tactics for how we can make a change by uniting our voices as a community. It will educate people on the policy-making process and forms of civic engagement.

-portraits of 10 people who want to shout out their social message projected on buildings to gain public attention;
-photographs made during the workshop distributed as postcards
-open letters from public figures

The content:
-first 100 questions and answers from the platform
-know-how and case studies from the meetings and training
-letters from public figures

What are the expected results?

• 30 working-class people from Pernik will have been consulted on their human rights issue by experts and gaining knowledge about the ways of civic engagement
• 45 young people will learn the basics of social documentary photography and be encouraged to continue practicing it
• 10 people will raise their voices for social change and find out why they matter
• (at least) 100 people will have their questions answered online by experts
• Local problems will make their path to national media not only via statistics but personal stories
• Citizens from Pernik will bе encouraged in the long run to raise their voice, whether via the project or in different ways
• Increased level of civic education & participation for hundreds of people
• Better access to information on active citizenship

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

By providing practically-oriented support in free
• consultations for 30 people in person and helping them on their way to solve their problems
• pieces of advice online
By theoretically-oriented support in civic education: providing knowledge about institutions, decision-making processes, ways of civic participation as an individual and a community.
By bringing personal stories to national media - it will encourage more people to talk and be active.
By empowering youth through social documentary photography skills.
By publishing free toolkit – the basics of civic education (distributed online via mass & social media) and printed version distributed in libraries & community centers.
By online platform with questions & answers on human rights and civic engagement topics.

Why is this idea important to you?

One team leader and few members are from Pernik and have worked on social topics there for years. Our team consists of journalists, PR managers, top artists and scientists, lawyers, young people as volunteers.
We want to give our knowledge and skills back to the community we belong to.
We know first hand what it means to live below the poverty line and how your social environment shapes your identity and future. As a grassroots organization, we recognize our responsibility to build a bridge between socially excluded people and those in power. This responsibility urges us to find new ways to engage and interact with people from our community, combining the 21st-century mentality with the context of survival mode that no one wants to talk about in public. We aim to inspire.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 30000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel (project management, coordination, accountant) - 3000
Public relations & advocacy campaign (incl. public figures’ open letters) – 3000
Technical equipment (photo cameras, photo equipment, projector) – 5000
Toolkit (editing, printing, distribution) - 6000
Travel & accommodation - 2000
Visual storytelling (photography, portraits, projection, design) - 3500
Online platform – 2000
Experts - 4000
Photography workshop teachers – 1500

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We will benefit from mechanisms for changing the attitudes of biased groups who have solid grounds for their prejudices. Best practices of similar activities and any other points of view are very welcome.



Idea created on April 25, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

Write comment