Between 3 and 9 March, experts from National Network for Children visited Reykjavik, Iceland, at the invitation of the Ombudsman for Children and within the project “Children in the Heart of Bulgarian Democracy”, implemented with financial support from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway on EEA mechanism.
The NNC team included the Executive Director Georgi Bogdanov, Plamena Nikolova – Director of Children’s Policy, and Georgi Elenkov – Lawyer, Coordinator of the Legal Aid Network. 16-year-old Adelina Nalbantova, a student from Sofia University “Lyuben Karavelov”, Plovdiv, a member of the youth network “Megaphone” of the NNC, also took part.
The NNC team attended a Children’s Congress organized by the Ombudsman for Children in Iceland and held at the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center for 2 days.
During the congress, the NNC team met with the President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Minister of Education and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason and Minister of the Environment and Renewable Energy Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson.
The Children’s Congress was attended by 130 children from all over the country, randomly selected, who had the opportunity to share in detail with the quoted statesmen their problems, challenges, dreams and concrete ideas for change. The highlight of the program of the Children’s Congress was the participation of Adelina from the Youth Network “Megaphone”, who – dressed in traditional Bulgarian costume – performed the Rhodope Song for Water.
The Icelandic children and young people participating in the Children’s Congress unanimously told the NNC team that they have the widest field of expression and that they feel heard by the authorities and fully supported in their initiatives.
In the following days of the working visit, the experts of the National Network for Children held working meetings with the team of the Ombudsman for Children and with local human rights defenders and activists who actively participated in the process of establishing and strengthening the institution of the Ombudsman for Children.
The NNC team was also invited to a kindergarten in Reykjavik, which applies an innovative model for children’s participation from an early age – 1-6 years. The model is based on the use of mind maps and more approaches to encourage children’s participation and expression.
National Network for Children also met with Bragi Gudbrandsson, the creator of the concept for the Barnahus multidisciplinary centers (“under one roof”), in which children – victims and witnesses of domestic violence – are given a comprehensive assessment in a child-friendly way and taking indications, while at the same time providing them with complex therapeutic care.
“There are 70,000 children in Iceland, they are worked on with heart and thought so that they can live happily, be confident citizens, be kind and polite to each other. Simple things, but extremely important, ” Georgi Bogdanov said upon his arrival in Bulgaria.
Under the project “Children in the heart of Bulgarian democracy” the advocacy work of National Network for Children for the establishment of the Ombudsman for Children in Bulgaria continues. In June, the Ombudsman for the Child of Iceland will visit Bulgaria and will take part in the Annual Meeting of the NNC.