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An update on Oak’s grant-making in Bulgaria: Announcing Tanya’s Dream

Special Grant / Foundation / Video

Photo by Rubén M. i Santos from Pixabay

We are pleased to announce an investment of USD 10 million in Bulgaria over seven years to an initiative called Tanya’s Dream. It will be hosted through the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation. Inspired by Tanya Kovacheva, Tanya’s Dream aims to end child institutionalisation in Bulgaria.

Tanya Kovacheva was a leading child rights advocate and beloved member of Oak staff who passed away in 2017. She knew that the practice of institutionalising children in crisis – often because their families were too poor to care for them – made them vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse. In 2010, in response to a call for reform from civil society, the Bulgarian Government pledged to close these institutions by 2025. The number of institutions dropped from 132 in 2010 to 27 today. 

As Tanya knew well, much work remains to be done. Although most of the large institutions have closed, there is still a steady stream of children entering the system each year. More can be done to keep families together, while providing family-based alternatives when needed. In this video, she talks about the next generation of children, and her dream that the word “institutions” will be alien to them: “They will not be able to imagine what they were for, why they were needed.”

In honour of Tanya, Oak Foundation Trustees have created a USD 10 million initiative dedicated to realising her vision – one where children live in families and communities without fear of violence and with the freedom to reach their full potential.

The goal of Tanya’s Dream is to work closely with government, civil society and other institutions to stop the placement of children into the system and shift resources and action towards strengthening families who are in crisis so that they are able to stay together. Tanya’s Dream will do this by:

  • making the issue matter again and refocusing public commitments on keeping families together first and foremost;
  • amplifying the voices of parents and young people leaving care to drive change; and
  • scaling what works to prevent family separation and evaluating promising interventions to keep families together.

We will be closing Oak’s office in Bulgaria at the end of July 2019 in anticipation of officially launching Tanya’s Dream in 2020. Through Tanya’s Dream, we will continue the same level investment in Bulgaria since we began grant-making in 2002.

We are thrilled that Tanya’s Dream will help sharpen the focus on supporting families in Bulgaria. We will share more about the initiative in 2020, so watch this space!

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tanya’s Dream – Ending child institutionalisation in Bulgaria