Hard work: three perspectives on finding employment in Blagoevgrad

In two separate materials, Mariya Toneva from Hristo Botev Foreign Languages High School in Kardzhali is telling the stories of working poor people in Blagoevgrad. She found them and recorded them while participating in the first Meda Bootcamp run by the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) and the Fulbright Commission, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. The second story shows how young and old people have different views on work.

 

According to official statistics, Bulgaria has 170 800 unemployed people between 15 to 64 years old in 2018. Despite of the general economic growth that is estimated in the past decade, many people still struggle to find work. Different people have different explanations on why this problem occurs – and how to deal with it.

 

Georgi Manovski, who works in a key shop in Blagoevgrad, advises young people to go study abroad because that is where good money is. He says that in his town there are more elderly people than youngsters.

 

But the young ones themselves think differently. Victoria Panova, an 18-year-old student from Pleven, says that the people who are homeless or do not have a job should be more motivated, get better education and, in general, try more seriously to get out of their situation. “These people are smart and good, the life challenges them and that doesn’t mean that they should stop trying,” she explains.

 

One example for a person who keeps on trying is Vera Dracheva, who is 64 years old, lives in Blagoevgrad and loves flowers, especially roses and chrysanthemums. Vera owns a flower shop in the center of town and says that she enjoys what she is doing and she is trying to make a living with what she does.

 

She says that people in Bulgaria like and enjoy flowers, but do not have money to buy them: “They just look at them, smile, and pass by,” Vera says.

 

SCOOL Media asked her if there are people who are still buying flowers and she told us that this is becoming a rare phenomenon and that people only buy them on special occasions.  She told us that in the past, people were buying flowers for their homes or when they wanted to surprise someone.

“Now things are different – the young people do not buy flowers for their loved ones, or even for a friend,” she concludes.

 

According to her, owning a flower shop is only a good investment if people buy flowers – and respectively when they have money.

 

Vera bids us farewell with a flower, wishing us a great day – and a great life – ahead. She says that she will always be there when someone needs flowers.

 

Her situation is similar to those of many people in Bulgaria who face a risk of poverty or losing their employment, people who may even lose hope in their lives. Yet, Vera’s example shows that there is a way of moving on without giving up, by trying their best to improve their lives.