Belkis arrived in Bulgaria in 1985 as a teacher and supervisor of a group of twenty orphaned children that she still calls “my children”. Nowadays, she works as a volunteer translator and mediator for the Bulgarian Red Cross and IOM, and helps refugees and migrants any way she can.
“Around the time when I left Afghanistan, security in the country had already begun to deteriorate. Due to the worsening situation, the children I worked with - sixteen boys and four girls between the ages of seven and nine, were sent to Bulgaria under a governmental programme to continue their studies there and I went with them as their supervisor. They were very nice, studied hard and all of them found their way in Bulgaria.
Now all of them have careers, houses, and cars, are married and have their own children. I have never regretted my decision to come here with them. After “my children” graduated, I was not able to go back to my home country anymore because of the civil war there. I started working as a volunteer for the Bulgarian Red Cross and I still help different NGOs as a volunteer.
For foreigners the integration process is very important. They need to learn about and understand the culture and the language. I am happy to assist them in that process. For me, Bulgaria feels like home already. I feel good here because I know the people, we interact the same way, and I greet and talk to my neighbours every day. Your home is not only the earth, water and sky around it, but also your family, friends, ideas and morals.”