A small town located about 250 kilometers east of Sofia, Trjavna is home to almost 11, 000 people. As such it is the administrative centre of the Trjavna Municipality in the Gabrovo Province, in north-central Bulgaria.
In this area, there is a disparity between rural and urban areas. Families living in more rural areas do not have sufficient access to schools or healthcare. Although many tourists come to the area to enjoy its natural beauty, it can be hard for people to make a decent living.
Since 1993, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Trjavna.
Bulgaria has one of the highest rates of poverty within the European Union. While more that 22% of households live below the poverty line, more than 43% of children are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
Poverty rates are highest for the Roma minority, exceeding 75%. Children are disproportionately affected and more vulnerable to the effects of poverty, facing long-term consequences in terms of educational outcomes, physical and intellectual development, psychological health, and well-being.
Around 14% of young people are unemployed – this is more than double the national unemployment rate. Young people often do not have the skills that are needed in the labour market. In addition, rural communities face underdevelopment and a lack of opportunity.
As a result, around 1 in 5 youth are not in employment, education, or training, with 63% them living in rural areas. Young people who are out of work and education experience decreased well-being and greater social isolation. They also lack opportunities to gain and improve their skills.