Rositsa Petrova, Country Director WWO Bulgaria
Where did you the idea to establish the organization came from and who are the founders? Tell us who and what inspired you?
Worldwide Orphans Foundation was founded by Dr. Jane Aronson, a global pediatrician, specialized in adoption medicine, who after having visited many homes for abandoned children all over the world saw that the lack of love, individual care and warmth was detrimental to babies and young children and left a mark on their entire lives. This is how the idea was born to set up a foundation to help as many children as possible in the world so that their childhood becomes a period of development, meaningful growth, sharing and play, and not of lonely expectation, and ultimately hopelessness.
The inspirers are the children themselves, their stories, each unique and shocking, and the feeling that you are making the world a little better.
What is your biggest success?
There are no small and big successes, every step is important, every smile, word of a child we work with is a great personal peak for them and therefore for us as an organization. Success is that we are reaching out to an increasing number of children living and growing in extreme poverty, traumatized, rejected and without equal access to educational, health and social services and we open a door for them that reveals a whole unknown world of toys, songs and stories. Children with their inherent curiosity and spontaneity have fun, and our goal for them is to learn and develop by playing. Success is that over the past three years we have developed and expanded our programs, we have an army of colleagues, we call them “librarians” across the country who apply the “Element of Play” daily – Toys Library, Music in Action, Storytelling. It is also a success that more and more kindergartens and hospitals recognise the importance of play for child development and integrate this approach into their work.
And what’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is what is also most satisfying: the change of attitudes to learning and development, changing the environment in which children grow, increasing the awareness of parents, teachers, and professionals to child development.
What is the message of the organization, how do you want people to remember you?
I would like one day, when today’s little children grow up, to remember their childhood with warmth and smile, and us to have been part of this childhood. It would be a great pleasure for us, if seeing a toy or hearing a song or a story, the child connects it with a moment of joy, friendship and a sense of acceptance.
I also want people to remember that we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.
What would you change if you had a “magic wand”?
I would change the childhood of so many children – poverty, insecurity, violence, rejection, lack of love, warmth and family will not be part of this picture. In my fairy tale, children will enjoy careless and cheerful play and will be surrounded by loving people.
But since such a change is not in the power of only one person, organization, or school, however powerful they are, it would be best if the seed of kindness germinate in everyone, and one thing is indisputable – all children are born good, it’s up to us what they will become as they grow up.
Is there anything else you want to say?
I want to wish everyone to feel the warmth of a family, home and friends, and not forget to donate – from their time, money, and feelings. Make Christmas possible for at least one child!