In Bulgaria, many Roma children live in poverty and drop out of school early to help out at home. It is common for girls to get married at a young age. The lack of education means that as adults, they cannot secure well-paid work, and it is much harder to break out of poverty.
Yamur, 12, is a young Roma girl who lives in Ognyanovo in southwest Bulgaria. Her father, Krasimir, is well aware of the pressure to drop out of school – and regrets how little education he received growing up.
Krasimir, 36, said, "When I was a little boy, my parents didn't let me go to school. They wanted me to work or to learn their trade. They said there was no point in school or studying, and it was impossible for a poor kid like me to become a professor or a doctor. That's why I had to learn to work from a very young age."
Now that he has children of his own, Krasimir is determined that they will have a different future. "With our Roma background, it's normal for girls to marry very young, but I know what the consequences would be for my daughter if that happened. I will never allow it; I do not wish that future for my child."
"Yamur is a very intelligent girl, and I hope that she will never forget where she came from and will have the chance to help other children in the same situation: children who have nothing materially but who have big dreams and want to achieve something worthwhile in their lives."
Fortunately, Yamur's family is enrolled in Mission Without Borders's family sponsorship programme and, as a result, receives regular support in many different ways.
A major obstacle to families living in poverty can be the cost of school supplies. While education is free, children are expected to provide their own materials, which can be very expensive for families struggling to afford even the basics, like Yamur's. MWB's Back to School campaign provides children living in poverty with backpacks and school supplies so they can be fully equipped and ready to learn and work hard.