The Peshtera Summer 2016 service project contributed improvements to a local kindergarten including benches, tables, and a new mural to decorate an old wall in the schoolyard. In addition to the physical improvements, the volunteer team organized English lessons and crafts for kids while the outdoor work was underway.

Peshtera Summer 2016 Opens Up a New Partnership

This was our first summer working at the “Iglika”kindergarten in Peshtera. Iglika is the Bulgarian word for primrose. We met the director of the kindergarten at a previous event at the nearby Patriarch Evtimii School, where we have been working for a couple of years. She was able to observe our work, hear from us and the Bulgarian staff of the other school, and then make a determination whether they wanted to work with an organization like us. From our earliest conversations it became apparent that we shared a desire to improve the learning environment and possibilities for kids, and a partnership was born.

Planning the Work for Peshtera Summer 2016

Every new location raises a long list of potential projects to impact the community or institution where we plan to work. It is always challenging to work through the possibilities to find just the right mix of activities to make the overall project a success. Some of the toughest parts of our job are making the decisions related to specific works to be completed, and the order in which things can or should be done.

It is important that the scope of work match the resources available for each project. In this case, we chose a limited number of construction projects, installing tables and benches, along with painting a mural on an unused wall in the schoolyard. This proved to be an excellent work list, providing useful practical improvements as as well as aesthetic enhancement for the school. It also gave us a good variety of work for volunteers with different interests. Those who enjoyed manual labor found ample opportunity digging, sawing, constructing and installing the furniture. The more artistic members of the group had a literal blank slate on which to create a work of art.

A Work of Art to Brighten the Schoolyard

A blank cement wall became the canvas for an art project. It was an l shaped structure, about one meter high, maybe a bit taller, and about 4 meters long. We weren’t really sure why the wall was there, but it sat in the middle of the school yard, bare and gray. Speculation about why it might have been built yielded no answers, but surely there was a reason it was put there in the first place.

In just a few short days, our amazing creative team transformed the former eyesore into a beautiful work of art. Instead of a dull, cracked surface, the completed mural portrayed a scene bursting with life, motion and color, taking in sky and trees and mountains and animals, perfect for brightening up a schoolyard environment. We were very proud of what the team was able to achieve.

Looking Ahead to the Future

This year’s project was just the first step in the work we hope to do at the Iglika Kindergarten. There are outdoor shelters, sandboxes, and other schoolyard amenities which need to be repaired or improved. We will also work with the PINK Foundation to help them establish a branch of the PINK Program at the kindergarten, investing in better opportunities for children and families in that community.

See the brag book from Peshtera Summer 2016:

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