Written as part of Bodler Giving's Global Givers initiative by a regional partner.
Yes, philanthropy. But what is it for me? Philanthropy is to give something you can in the moment when you feel that you must do it. It needs to come from the heart. And in a way you feel that you want to give SOMETHING to somebody or for a cause. For me philanthropy has many forms – from pure giving to inspiring many people to join your cause, idea or even to change the way an institution works or a community lives.
But let’s start with who I am. My name is Donika Balabanova. I was born and currently live in Tryavna. It is hard to introduce oneself, not for reasons you may think but rather to present yourself with the most essential feature of what makes you YOURSELF. I graduated with a degree in physiotherapy at the Rousse University “Angel Kanchev” and directly after graduation started working as a physiotherapist. So, for about two years I entered the houses of people with heavy live routes, children with severe cases of cerebral palsy, of people suffering multiple sclerosis. In addition to rehabilitation, I wanted to help them in another way and change their lives, even if just partially. And perhaps destiny gave me a chance when in 2005 I became a manager of the Center for Social Rehabilitation and Integration in Tryavna. For more than 9 years now, I have been working in the field of social services trying to develop the Center as the most adequate and useful provider of services – namely the Daily Center for Elderly with Disabilities and a Social Enterprise for Public Catering.
It is very difficult for me to say when I started working on philanthropic causes. For most of my life I have not differentiated my deeds as “philanthropic causes” or not… And I actually think that this is something which influences a person since their early childhood. You are influenced by the environment in which you grow up, and from the people around you. Of course, when you are a child, you set modest goals. Like how to help your neighbors with something, to raise money for painting basketball backboards. With time and years, however, the way you see things and needs changes. And respectively you change the way you do these things. Now what I want to do is to construct a sensor hall for children with special needs. And this is the cause on which I currently work. I don’t think that this is a unique cause. I simply believe that such a place will allow specialists to work better with children. And from other side the children themselves will be able to work easily for overcoming their deficits.
It is not easy. But many things continue to motivate me. For me philanthropy is like a journey – the more you travel, the more you want to do it. And to see as many new places as possible. And the more new things you do, the more you realize that actually you haven’t done so much. And want to do a lot more. Another thing which has motivated me, is the lives of many celebrities who have given so much without seeking anything back and who usually have not been recognized while alive.
Yes, I believe that philanthropy is also a spiritual need. Usually somebody does it to reach a better harmony with their soul. That is why for me it is very difficult to describe what the feeling to contribute for realization of an idea looks like. Perhaps it is the feeling of spiritual harmony at a certain moment. The Bulgarian School of Politics probably helped me feel this the most. There I found a place which energized me even more, a place where people with similar ideas and high motivations to do charity meet. Another thing, which was very inspirational to me, is that the School upgrades your knowledge and skills in the field of philanthropy. Charity evenings are just a very small element of all things which were built throughout the years and on which the School continues to work on. And for me it is a privilege to participate in discussions and share my experience because we all could do much more.
I definitely think that charity is a way for achieving social change. And that is why I want more people to feel philanthropy as a need to give something from them, irrespectively in what form. I believe that when we wake up the better self in ourselves, then God will love us greatly.
And that is why for me it is crucial to disseminate good practices. Because I think that good deeds have to be spread. This way, the battle with negativism and negative thoughts will be much more successful. And people will have much faith in what they want and much confidence that they can do it.
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