Our story

history of the "Council of Refugee Women in Bulgaria"

How did it all start?

It all started in 2002, when the Bulgarian Red Cross launched a three-day course on social orientation aimed at refugees. About twenty of the people the organization works with attend the course to exchange ideas and experiences. One of them is Linda Awanis from Iraq – current chairman of the Association of Refugee Women in Bulgaria. At that time she was a volunteer at the Caritas Sofia Association and an external associate at the Bulgarian Red Cross.

Linda is the one who came up with the idea for the future association: to gather women of refugee background, so they can advocate for the newly arrived asylum seekers. Founded in 2003 by a total of nine women from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, Council of Refugee Women in Bulgaria was received with curiosity, but also many questions. Linda shares that leading to it was both the change in the perceptions of Bulgarian society about the refugee woman and the change in the refugee men about the role and place of women in society. Linda seeks the truth in the middle, strives to build a bridge between values and cultures, to find balance and compromise, the intersections through which to overcome mutual prejudices.

In order to successfully reach a woman in a more traditional and conservative family, the trust of the head of the family – her husband or father – must first be won. That is why the first beneficiaries of the services of CRWB – consultations, direct work, social mediation and humanitarian aid, are men. Over time, they become convinced of the many benefits to the individual and community from the existence of this type of organization.

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