Tue, May 21 2013
SINCE 1992, Sofka and Encho Enchev have moved seven times with their three children, Michaela, Stefan and Velina.
For six months, they shared a room with another family in a house with a leaking roof. Their next home was a three-room apartment, which they shared with another family-a total of 11 people living together. They currently live in a two-room 66 sq m apartment for which they pay the equivalent of $60 a month on an income of $300. Water leaks from the bathroom in the apartment upstairs and the basement is often flooded.
During the past 10 years, the responsibility for low-income families' housing has fallen on cash-strapped local authorities. At present in 300 000 homes in Bulgaria, at least two families share living space. For a huge number of families the problems are getting worse, as there is not enough money to maintain their already poor quality housing.
The Enchevs ensured a decent future for their children when they partnered with Habitat for Humanity Sofia (Podslon Za Chovechestvoto) to build a simple, decent affordable home. HFH Sofia was registered as a non-profit entity in 2001. In 2003, after acquiring a plot of land in the Slatina district of Sofia, work began on the construction of an eight-unit block which will house a total of 16 adults and 17 children. All families are selected trough a transparent and non-discriminatory procedure. Race, religion, ethnicity or national origin are not considered in the selection process; rather, families must meet three basic criteria:
l A proven need for adequate housing and inability to access traditional housing assistance (bank loans etc.).
l A willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity trough the provision of a pre-determined number of "sweet equity" hours, working on their own home and the homes of others.
l The ability to repay over 20 years the non-profit, no-interest loan provided for the construction of the house.
HFH Sofia is Bulgaria's only affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI).
Founded in 1976 in the US state of Georgia, HFHI , a non-profit ecumenical Christian- based organisation, is one of the largest providers of low-cost housing for economically disadvantaged people around the world. Currently there are Habitat programmes in 100 countries, and by the end of April 2005, Habitat completed its 200 000th house; providing safe, decent and affordable homes for about 1 000 000 family members.
First HFH Sofia construction is expected to be completed in early autumn of 2005, and a new project will be initiated in the town of Kostinbrod later in the year. Support for the affiliate is provided trough regular donations of cash and materials as well as a continuing volunteer programme. In 2004, the affiliate hosted four work teams, each for a two-week period, from the US and Switzerland. On a regular basis, Peace Corps volunteers stationed in Bulgaria as well as students from the American University in Bulgaria (AUGB) work weekends on the site.
If you are interested in the various opportunities to experience the joys of service and fellowship and to encourage people who want to help themselves while helping HFH Sofia, contact Mrs. Ekaterina Ignatova at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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