Written as part of Bolder Giving's Global Givers initiative by our regional parter.
I consider philanthropy to be my job and a vacation. My real motivation is to make the next generations in Bulgaria realize that hard work brings happiness, especially if such labor translates into unique upshots in life. They are the future nation’s elite and I want to prepare them through physics, technologies and mathematics. Currently, most students in Bulgaria prefer to study business and other similar “moneymaking” disciplines, but what is the world in the 21st Century without technologies? In my opinion they are impending unemployed people.
In its nature, money is a great evil and that’s why I never talk about figures, numbers, costs, what causes I’ve given to and how much. When we know that something can be done in Bulgaria, I will find a way to provide funds through the Minyu Balkanski Foundation. When there is a need – an important and urgent need, it may be addressed.
Some time ago I was told that nursing homes were in awful condition in Bulgaria. I decided to do something about it and after some research and several phone calls with different foundations we were able to secure a grant to reconstruct the nursing home in Lovech. We completely transformed it from its terrible primitive condition. It was a wonderful experience! How could I put a price on that?
I have also helped establish the institute in the old school building of the village of Oryahovitsa, which remained closed, and students were redirected to the school in the neighboring village. The building was left at the mercy of destructive fate. Through the foundation I initiated and funded a project to turn this wonderful building from the past into an institute of education embracing the future. With the assistance of village’s mayor and the municipal council, the abandoned school building was granted to the Minyu Balkanski Foundation for free, which was a prudent political act. The building was then reconstructed and renovated. We also established convenient apartments where teachers could stay. There is no TV in the institute, and all the time spent there is dedicated to obtaining knowledge, communication, and to sharing of experiences and ideas among students. All visitors in the center are astonished and want to come back again. Training courses are organized on a regular basis and cover all disciplines. Talented students participate in special mathematics and physics classes and win a lot of prizes at international contests.
Our foundation made great efforts to introduce the subject of Moral, Ethics and Civil Education as a regular discipline in Bulgarian public schools. In my opinion, this is an absolute necessity for our country’s future development and for overcoming corruption and moral degradation that seriously threatens modern society. Children’s upbringing gets put aside, parents are busy with work, grandparents live far away, and children aren’t exposed to traditional family values. I want to aid the development of a smart, intelligent and benevolent Bulgarian society. We want to promote new ways of thinking, social responsibility and participation in all affairs directly affecting our society. The need for action and civic engagement is more urgent than ever.
Bulgaria is a closed country, and young people need to gain deeper insight into the rest of the world, to watch for advances in developed countries and participate in international contests and learn fluent foreign languages. The American University in Bulgaria is a perfect place for Bulgarian students to do just that. English is the primary language of study and students there gain unique development perspectives and their ambitions are enhanced and further advanced. I am happy that in these surroundings they are taught sound moral, permanent and worthy ethics, courage and determination. I welcome their attitudes towards society, their ambitions for development and professional growth. This is why I convinced my son Allen to make a significant contribution to this promising university due to open a new building under our family name - Balkanski Academic Centre.
The theater of Hristo Botev High School in Nova Zagora was also totally reconstructed by our foundation in 2006. It is a place for culture and creative expression, fully open to students There we hold gatherings with five vistiing sculptors and five artists and guests of the Foundation to discuss and practice creativity. Each convening ends with an exhibition and each of the five artists leaves one of his works to the Foundation. At present, the Nova Zagora Cultural Centre has an impressive collection of these works exhibited for citizens and tourists to enjoy.
Through my foundation’s funding we have constructed several facilities – theater, cultural center, exhibition halls, youth institute, just to name a few, but I’ve never put a price tag on any of these projects. How can you?