Bulgaria church develops low-income support center

Montana, Bulgaria

Montana, Bulgaria, once hosted bustling factories. Now, the work is mostly agrarian, and poverty pervades the town. The Church of the Nazarene in Montana is connecting people with the resources they need to support themselves and their families. 

The church has developed the Information Center — a hub for information and training for local families and individuals who are struggling. The center acts as a bridge between low-income people and business training and other resources available to them through the European Union. 

“The problem is that ordinary people do not know about these services and do not take advantage of these opportunities,” said Kameliya Munelska, Information Center director.

Kameliya designed the ministry seven years ago with her husband, Valeri, who is also the pastor of their church. The church and the center share building space, and many church members are either participants or volunteers at the center.

People can attend Information Center led seminars, enroll in government assistance programs, and receive step-by-step guidance during job applications. The staff at the Information Center stay connected with people through follow-up meetings and mentoring.

“The process goes on for every person visiting the Information Center,” Kameliya said. “We are looking for an individual support plan depending on the capacity of each person.”

Last year, the center offered seminars on general business operations, resume writing, beekeeping, writing business plans, and more. Many people return to these seminars to learn more and socialize with others. Seminars are customized each year to meet the needs of the community.

One person who used the Information Center’s resources named Tanya met Kameliya by chance. Tanya previously worked in Canada and England to support her husband and son in Bulgaria since they could not make enough money within the country. Many people work in a different country to provide remittance payments to their families, but few return to Bulgaria like Tanya.

Initially, Tanya began attending the entrepreneurship and small business seminars at the center, learning financial management, company registration, and more. Now, the center is helping Tanya apply for assistance programs for small businesses through the European Union.

Through the assistance programs, Tanya hopes to finance the things she needs to start an English teaching business. 

“Tanya has the heart to teach English to children who have no financial opportunity for specialized schools,” Kameliya said. 

Tanya’s son also utilizes these services. He recently began raising bees using skills he learned in a seminar. 

“The Information Center is a place of support, encouragement, and fellowship,” Tanya said.

--Republished with permission from the 2019 Issue 1 of NCM Magazine

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