By Elitsa Stoeva, YES 2016-2017, Bulgaria, hosted by ASSE in San Antonio, TX
On June 29, Nazmie Mustafa (YES 2015-2016, Bulgaria, hosted by YFU in Whitehall, MI) and I completed a project called Little Free Libraries. After months of collecting books and making little wooden boxes to house them, we traveled to Kurdzhali, a town in southern Bulgaria, on June 28. There, two volunteers helped us paint the boxes.
The next day, we held the official opening of the first “little free library,” a place where community members can borrow or trade books, at the Children’s Center, a local government-funded institution that provides children ages five to 18 opportunities to explore the visual and performing arts. After installing the library with the help of volunteers from the Center, Nazmie and I played games, drew, and danced with a group of approximately 100 children. The prize for winning one of the games was the chance to put the first donated books into the library. The event was an enormous success and great fun. We then went to a local park, where we installed a second library.
This project was organized in collaboration with the Municipality of Kardzhali and the Children’s Center and supported by the Global Youth Service Day Matching Grants program funded by the YES program and administered by American Councils. It was not only beneficial to Kardzhali’s approximately 150,000 citizens, but also to Nazmie and me. It helped us to develop our communication, project planning, management, and budgeting skills.