Maria Dantcheva

Head of Programme International Office Region Central Eastern Europe Commonwealth of Independent States

Back to our origin

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It was in 2009 that I first partook in a brand awareness workshop given by our continental brand advisor. This workshop started with the background of our organisation and how it was established. One of the tools used was a historical video presentation. That was when I first had the opportunity to watch a video of Hermann Gmeiner talking. I felt a connection, a bond to his history and to his work.

After this brand orientation the national office of Brazil decided to form a group to do this kind of brand orientation seminars throughout our country. I decided to take part in this group. First, I translated the presentation into Portuguese, because it was in Spanish, and employed my motivation and determination to visit as many of our villages as possible. It was really great to be in the villages and feel the inspiring atmosphere.

Once at a seminar a co-worker said, “This is the first time a person from the national association comes to the programme just to motivate us, to tell how important our work is and how each one of us counts. Normally NA co-workers come to give us new guidelines, policies, rules or to tell us how we should work.” This testimony impacted me a lot, and made me more determined to continue the task of strengthening our identity.

After that came the brand book and the key messages that were also translated and became our starting point for each and every brand orientation to new co-workers.

As time passed by and the financial crises came, it was even more crucial to keep in mind our mission and our vision. It became important that every co-worker feels the pride as well as the responsibility of working in an organisation that is a social movement. The national brand team little by little stepped away and I remained alone in this journey.

Working as executive assistant to the national director, responsible also for the strategic planning and information, working at a desk and away from the children, I feel the need to visit, whenever possible, the programmes and see the results of our work.

Maria  Dantcheva

is Head of Programme at the International Office for the Region Central Eastern Europe Commonwealth of Independent States.

I joined SOS Children’s Villages Bulgaria in 1993, the same year the association opened the first SOS Children’s Village in the country. In the first years in the national office, I worked as a social worker responsible for admission of children in SOS families and the managing of contacts with their biological parents. Later on, as a national youth care coordinator I was involved in the establishment of 4 youth homes and also during my time as a family strengthening advisor, we opened four family counselling centres. In April 2010, I assumed the position I occupy today.

I am happy to have grown up in a wonderful family, with my brother and sister. We spent unforgettable summer holidays in the countryside with our grand- and great-grandparents. Bearing in me, memories spanning three generations is something that makes my life rich. I got married in 1998 and five years after, our son Georgi was born. So unfortunate things sometimes turn out to be, my husband died in 2010 and since then, with the help of two grandmothers, I have been taking care of our son. Georgi has a great sense of humour. “I have a ‘winter granny’ where I go each day after school and a ‘summer granny’ where I spend my two months holidays”. So he captures his experiences with his grandmothers.

I actively work for the establishment of modern child protection system in Bulgaria. I am an active member of several working groups on state level for changes in legislation on child welfare.

I spend and invest time in my son, his hobbies and happiness, as I’m sure that very, very soon the situation will change! We like very much long walks and talks, excursions, meetings with friends and relatives. I like to read and take care of the flowers on the balcony.