THE WAY OF THE NEW BEGINNING
The causes which Mission Salvation Foundation has committed to are in two main directions:
1.Social and charitable projects;
2.Culture and education related projects.
Leading motive in the social activity is the support of people with unequal and vulnerable social status, people who are unable to exercise their rights and victims of different discriminative practices. In that scope are the families with single parent, families with many children, prisoners and refugees, and those seeking protection on the territory of Republic of Bulgaria. The engagement of Mission Salvation Foundation with such people is accompanied by striving to create conditions for adequate and rightful participation in the life of modern society, as well as the efforts to bring down to nothing the vicious circumstances that put them in a vulnerable position.
Through its cultural and educational platform the foundation aims at discovering, encouraging and developing the creative and scientific potential of the people part of the groups in focus, creating a building up atmosphere of mutual help, formation of values and a complete unfolding of personality. The two main streams of Mission Salvation Foundation are closely connected and compliment each other.
The work of Mission Salvation Foundation with regards to single parent families, and families with many children aims to provide opportunities for social protection, equality of rights and complete development of children. Part of the efforts is towards optimization of the relationship not only in the family but also out of it. A complex of measures have been worked out in support of these families, which main emphasis is:
. Overcoming prejudice and stereotypes that lead to different forms of discrimination;
. development of certain social and behavioral skills in children and parents, affirmation of family values;
. prevention and drive against the low educational status and social isolation;
. ensuring of financial stability and opportunity for professional fulfillment;
. presenting of opportunities for expression of talented kids with knowledge, skills and interests in the area of education, sports, art and culture.
The activities which Mission Salvation Foundation develops amongst prisoners and people who have already served their sentences, is with 18 years of history. Teams of volunteers, trained by Ivodor Kovachev, founder of Mission Salvation, weekly are visiting the Sofia Central Prison and the Prisoner’s Campus Kazichene. Under the form of individual and group meetings they work with the inmates for character reformation, forming and affirmation of a value system, personal orientation, psychological support and restoration of family relationships, and thorough re-socialization. Efforts are also being exerted for improving the quality of life at the penitentiary facilities, as well as suppor for the children and families of the inmates. Due to their many years of practice, consistency and social engagement, Mission Salvation Foundation enjoys the assistance of the Ministry of Justice and Head Administration for “Serving Sentences”.
A natural continuation of the many years of work of Mission Salvation Foundation with people in prison and their families, is the project “The way of the new beginning”. It is being worked on by the financial aid of the Norwegian financial mechanism 2009-2014. The main goal of the project is to assist the process of re-socialization before and after the release of prisoners.
Every new beginning in the life of any man is accompanied by many difficulties and problems. Often also with fear from the unknown. The inmates are faced with even greater challenge, who for many years have been living in isolation, separated from the world and their close ones, and now trying to get back to the normal way of life. On the other hand they idealize their release and the majority of them expect their problems to come to an end at the exit door of the prison. The reality that faces them is dramatically far from the preliminary mind set. According to the experts, the prisoners most often don’t have any specific plans for the future and the risk to go back to the criminal past is great. It’s also being fed by the fears and prejudice of our society towards the ex-cons. Few are the employers who dare to take the risk and giving them a job. That is why it is very important for the imprisoned to see a helping hand, ready to support them without reservation on the way to re-integration. Such a helping hand is the project “The way of the new beginning”. The experience of Mission Salvation Foundation so far shows that it takes preparation for a successful adaptation to a fulfilled life in community and to start social involvement while still in prison, before completion of the served sentence. This is the reason why the social and psychological support, the courses for leadership skills, and the building up of skills for management of personal finances and entrepreneurial culture for starting of a small or medium size business are an important part of the battle to reduce the risk of recidivism. Another key factor is the direct involvement of the families of the imprisoned, since the greater part of success depends on their support and adequate attitude. The combined work with the loved ones of the prisoners is being accomplished by the assistance of fine and applied arts, music, singing and dancing. Mission Salvation Foundation runs a cultural and educational center “The palace of the happy people”, whose facilitators and volunteer workers are actively involved in the art activities.
. Art workshops
With the help of the rich variety of opportunities, part of the fine and applied arts, the choir singing and dances, the imprisoned are being stimulated to express their feelings, provoked by their experiences before getting behind the bars, during their time in and also towards their families. A great deal of the activities includes discussions on meaning of art and creativity. Dancing will help them to physically express their feelings for their wives, which feelings they can’t describe any better with other means. Besides, there are role plays in which these men are going to be in the shoes of children, which in turn will help them to better understand their own children and to improve the communication with them. The three months workshops end with meeting of the imprisoned with their families, in order to present the already acquired skills and to share the expectations for life after getting out of prison.
. Seminar on entrepreneurship
During the seminar the imprisoned are going to be introduced with the essentials of entrepreneurship, they will learn about the steps needed for establishing of an enterprise, they will be informed about the difficulties of the requirements, etc. The goal is at the end each of the trainees to be able to get answers of a few basic questions, i.e.: which market segment is going to be his target, what kind of enterprise does he want to start, what means is he going to do it with and to be able to foresee the possible hidden stones, etc.
. Seminar on leadership skills
The participation in this seminar will give a chance to the imprisoned to improve their personal effectiveness by building up of leadership skills and the skill to manage oneself. They will introduced with different styles of leading, different approaches and with the minutest details for an effective and working team (family, professional). An important asset for success is also the motivation and the ability for verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as overcoming the barriers in communication and the interpersonal conflicts. The imprisoned will have the possibility to get involved in different discussions, role plays and case solving.
. Seminar on management of personal finances
During this seminar the prisoners will learn about sources of income, savings and skillful budgeting of the means, as well as investing them and following the rule to be loan free. The facilitators will help them to develop a personal financial plan, to evaluate their financial status and to make realistic financial goals.
. Specialized program for character reformation through personal social-psychological meetings
The psychological and social support for the imprisoned will help them to successfully reintegrate in society. Each one will receive juridical help for the issue of personal documents and registration at the “Labor office”, they will be assisted in finding a job – help with the preparation of a resume, direction of how to introduce themselves at the meeting with potential employees, and setting up such meetings. Envision is to provide a facility and to conduct regular meetings with the already released and it would turn into a place of security and support for them. At this premise will be hold individual consultations with an expert in social rehabilitation and with psychologist, gatherings of interests groups for overcoming of the social isolation. It is going to be equipped with 30 work spots, computer, multimedia, screen and a flipchart. Here will continue the training courses in psychology and social adaptation, finances, entrepreneurship, leadership and art stimulations. With the idea of faster reintegration in society, the released from prison will be encouraged to get involved in different volunteer activities as part of the projects of Mission Salvation Foundation. , such as shopping for the single mothers and children at “The house of many colors”., cleaning of the classrooms at the “School for happy kids”, assisting the newly released from prison, etc.
. Training seminar for volunteers and experts, who work with imprisoned
The president of Mission Salvation will share his expertise in working with prisoners to 12 people, who are going to be involved in the project “The way of the new beginning”. When holding the seminars, workshops and the classes, each one of the experts is going to be assisted by a volunteer. They all are going to acquire skills for conflict solving, dealing under stress and in a resistant setting. For the facilitators it is extremely important to be able to manage differences, to rightly evaluate the behavior of the inmates, as well as handle pressure between different personalities.
. Couching personal sessions
The goal is, the released for prison, who have substantial advancement in their re-socialization, started their own business or have found a job and successfully restored their family relations, to be motivated to participate as volunteers at Mission Salvation’s work for the last three months of the project. Through their personal example they will be able to encourage and pass onto these, who are still in prison, their skills and motivation for change.
Envisioned are also meetings with prisoners, who want to get involved in the projects for the good-doing of the foundation, such as making or repairing items needed from the mothers at the House of many colors.
. Festive family gatherings
For the most exiting Christian holidays – Christmas and Easter, and for the first school day has been envisioned to organize festive family gatherings at prison site, accompanied by special program and food. The purpose is to build up a positive mind set in the families towards the activities of the project and they would actively get involved in the way of the new beginning of their loved ones, who are imprisoned.