All of One Heart Bulgaria’s programs have been created with the primary goal of dramatically improving the lives of orphans in Bulgaria. We achieve this on many critical levels through sponsorships of individual orphanages; completion of special projects for the orphanages; providing specialized medical care; implementing life skills training programs for the teenage orphans; and training orphanage staff, to properly care for the orphans.

Our efforts have the added benefit of supporting the local economy in Bulgaria by purchasing locally produced foods and products and by employing local Bulgarian citizens to help implement our programs in Bulgaria. Our efforts are only limited by the amount of support we receive, the number of helping hands and giving hearts. Read below about our programs and find the best way for you to get involved with One Heart Bulgaria.

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Dental Program

Dental care is inadequate for orphans in Bulgaria. Our first dental team was sent to Bulgaria in September 2007. It consisted of 5 dentists, 8 hygienists and assistants. Twenty local volunteers assisted the team who gave dental care to 500 children from 10 orphanages. Each patient received a dental cleaning in addition to dental procedures and instruction on brushing and flossing. Each child was given a hygiene kit that included a toothbrush, toothpaste, pencil, eraser, a small toy and a treat.

Interested individuals can contact our Dental Programs Director, Jan Wray, at


As of July 2014, One Heart Bulgaria has a Bulgarian staff of 13 teachers for music, dance, carpentry, taekwondo, table tennis, sewing, and cooking classes, including 2 librarians who mentor the children through books and activities. Please consider donating to our Teacher Fund to keep our capable staff working to enrich the lives of our Bulgarian kids.

Download library flyer here
Download teacher flyer here


Grandmother Nurturing

In this program we hire a grandmother to nurture the children by reading to them, by helping with homework, by playing with them and in some situations by helping the very little ones to bathe, brush teeth and prepare for bed or for their day. This is an invaluable program to help the children feel loved and to help them in their social skills and emotional development.

There is wide interest in this program. We are receiving a number of calls with requests from orphanage directors to be included on our list. One Heart Bulgaria has employed 4 babas to give care to children at orphanages. This program has proven to be a great success. The monthly salaries of the babas vary from $60 to $90.


Grandmother Representatives Vanya and Viki are supplied with bags full of educational toys, books, and games for the children.


Vanya is dearly loved by the children at the Sv. Paraskeva orphanage where she is “grandma” to 65 babies and children ages 0-4.

Life Skills Training

One Heart Bulgaria is developing programs to help teenage orphans gain valuable life, social, and occupational skills. Learning such skills, combined with the steady attention of trained and compassionate leaders, will help implement the successful reintegration of the orphans into the Bulgarian society and decrease their chance of involvement in criminal or anti-social behavior such as prostitution, drug addiction, robbery, or joining the Mafia after they leave the orphanage. One such project, currently being developed, is the Opportunity Homes Program.

Medical Programs

We regret to announce that we can no longer supply shunts for children needing surgeries. However, we can purchase shunts in Bulgaria for children in orphanages. Please continue to donate to our Hydrocephalous Program and Medical Fund so we can provide urgent medical care for children in the 23 orphanages we help.

Hydrocephalus Program: Hydrocephalus is the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain, leading to their enlargement which in turn, causes an enlarged head and eventually retardation, blindness, and loss of motor-skills. This otherwise crippling and fatal condition can simply be treated by surgical insertion of a shunt, which helps drain the excess fluid. There is no reason why any child should have to endure this correctable condition. The Bulgarian government pays for the surgical procedure, however they will not pay for the actual shunts, which cost about $800.00 each. Because parents and orphanages cannot afford this expense, many children in Bulgaria die from hydrocephalus, usually by the age of three years.

In order to properly implement this program, One Heart Bulgaria must have a constant supply of shunts. As of summer 2006, Integra Life Sciences and Medtronic donated shunts valued at over $55,500. The lives of 57 Bulgarian orphans (as of February 14, 2010) have been saved so far because of these shunt donations. One Heart Bulgaria facilitates pre-operational assessments, corrective surgery for Bulgarian orphans and underprivileged children suffering with hydrocephalus, and then ensures that post-operational and follow-up care is provided.

In September of 2006 and again in December of 2006, Dr. John Clark, a neurosurgeon from St. George, Utah, spent a month in Bulgaria as part of a One Heart Bulgaria initiative. He performed several surgeries, trained local neurosurgeons, and also researched and assessed needs for the further development of the hydrocephalus program.

Medicines: One Heart Bulgaria helps to supply flu vaccines, prescription and non-prescription medications for children in orphanages. We receive many urgent requests from orphanage directors before flu season each year. Please consider donating to our Medical Fund.

Music & Dance Programs

One of our main missions in One Heart Bulgaria is to enrich the children’s lives through teachers and classes that nurture, instruct, motivate and inspire. We have employed music teachers, drama teachers, song leaders, and folk dance instructors to teach, mentor and entertain children in many of our orphanages. These adult mentors play the piano, the accordion, or the guitar while working with the children. Some teachers of drama and folk dancing have requested costumes so their groups can perform in local festivals and give public performances; we have provided costumes when funds have been available.

Our successful music programs have been praised both in Bulgarian newspapers and Bulgarian television, and now orphanage directors are pleading to have similar programs established in their facilities. These music programs, along with our Grandmother Nurturing Program, have proven to be the most effective of all our efforts to bring nurturing and cultural experiences together for the children.

In support of enriching lives through music, several well-known Utah musicians traveled to Bulgaria in March of 2009 to provide concerts for several orphanages as well as smaller music performances at many other orphanages. Monthly salaries range from $40 to $130 depending on skills and hours worked.

Opportunity Homes Program

The purpose of this proposed Opportunity Homes program is to provide orphans that are eighteen years old with an opportunity to develop valuable work and social skills, personal money management skills, and problem-solving skills and to build self–confidence.

Under the supervision of a government paid social worker and One Heart Bulgaria house parents, six to eight qualifying teen girls will live in a home for one year. During this time, they are expected to adhere to the rules and moral standards of the program while maintaining a job in the community, contributing to household responsibilities, and participating in group social activities and community service. Through instruction from the social worker, and with guidance from the house parents, orphans will learn the skills previously mentioned. Upon graduation from the program, each student will receive a certificate of honorable completion plus essential household items for living independently.

The long term goals of this program are to decrease the likelihood of suicide, alcoholism, prostitution, drug addiction, unemployment, homelessness, and other anti-social and/or criminal behaviors among young adult orphans. In addition, we believe nurturing the rising orphan population through this program will create a better image of orphans in Bulgaria’s communities as crime rates and unwanted pregnancies decrease and their communities are strengthened.

This program needs ongoing funding.

To become involved with these programs, please contact Deborah Dushku Brailsford at


One Heart Bulgaria’s sewing programs teach important skills, instill a work ethic, and inspire a spirit of service. Young people who participate in our sewing programs have rewarding experiences sewing for themselves as well as completing service projects for others. Currently, our class at Gabrovo orphanage is using five sewing machines, notions, and fabric purchased by One Heart Bulgaria, and is taught by a skilled, enthusiastic, and creative instructor. A pattern for success! Salary: $85 per month.

Woodshop Program

Woodshop Program

We are very pleased with Lubomir Mladenov, our carpentry teacher at Maria Louisa Orphanage. Lubomir is a talented craftsman who loves to help children learn woodworking skills. Fortunately, this orphanage had an unused room with some equipment, tools and workbenches that was perfect for a OHB woodshop class to train boys and girls in basic skills.

To become involved with these life skills training programs, please contact Deborah Brailsford at or make a donation to keep Lubomir teaching.

Assenovets Library & Literacy Program

Assenovets Library & Literacy Program

Our Assenovets library is now available for the children and has a qualified teacher/librarian to guide and mentor them. This first library established by a generous donation from the Dorthea Haus Ross Foundation was inaugurated on November 1, 2012. This event received television and radio coverage and was attended by several municipal officials and directors of nearby orphanages. This project has made a large impact in the entire community. Ludmila Peeva, our very capable and caring librarian is shown in picture with our Bulgarian director. Ludmila is a schoolteacher who recently received librarian-skills training in Sofia.

Librarian Mariana Babacheva standing third from left.

Bratsigovo Library & Literacy Program

We also created another beautiful new library/computer room at Bratsigovo Orphanage Complex because of a generous donation from the Brandoffs. The children LOVE to read there, as well as put puzzles together, draw, and just hang out together. Our American director said, “It was gratifying to see so many children in one room getting along with one another and truly enjoying themselves. A special thank you to our Sponsorship Director, Donna Dushku, our Field Director, Dr. Nickolai Gavazov, and our donors for creating our truly wonderful libraries!”

Orphanage Sponsorships

A sponsorship is a commitment from an individual, corporation, family, or community group to donate a specific monetary amount to provide an orphanage with basic needs for one year.  These needs can include supplemental food, medicine, hygiene items, bedding, therapists and caregivers.  The cost of a sponsorship is based on the needs of the specific orphanage.  In most cases a sponsorship equals approximately $55 per child per year.  The cost to support an orphanage for children with special needs is slightly higher.  Sponsorship expenditures are tailored to the needs of the individual orphanage.  For instance, the infant orphanages may need diapers and food, while the special needs orphanages may require therapists and medicine.  The needs of each orphanage are assessed under the supervision of our field director in Bulgaria, Nikolai Gavazov, PhD.  Dr. Gavazov manages orphanage sponsorship funds after consulting with the orphanage directors and the One Heart Bulgaria Board.

To participate in the Sponsorship Program, sponsors choose an orphanage and make a formal commitment to provide the necessary funding. The orphanage is contacted and the assessment and sponsorship process begins.  Then a contract is developed with the orphanage and the field director oversees the expenditure of the sponsorship funds.

Sometimes a large orphanage or one with special needs may require multiple sponsorships; in which case, several individuals or groups may sponsor one orphanage.

Sponsors receive regular newsletters and feedback on the children’s health, activities, and needs. Conditions of their orphanage and expenditure of funds are also included as well as pictures of the children, orphanage staff, and the orphanage.  These personal reports come through Dr. Gavazov and our Sponsorship Director, Donna Dushku. Our treasurer, Jennifer Djambov, sends donation receipts including necessary tax information to participating sponsors.

Of the approximately 150 orphanages in Bulgaria, One Heart Bulgaria currently gives aid to 23.

The following orphanages need sponsors:

Name Type of Orphanage and number of children  Sponsorship
Naretchen Ages: 3-7 yrs. #47 $1,200/yr.
Plovdiv Baby Orphanage Ages: 0-3 yrs. #115 $1,500-3,000/yr.
Sv. Marina Ages: 6-18 yrs. #84
Special needs children
Zelenikovo Ages: 4-7 yrs. #44 $1,200-2,400/yr.

Please look over the list to determine which orphanage you would like to help and then begin your sponsorship by contacting Donna Dushku (


One Heart Bulgaria internships offer exciting opportunities to make a real difference in the lives of orphans. Most of our current internship opportunities involve working in orphanages for youth ages 7-18. The children in these orphanages need good role models and opportunities to develop new skills and gain self-confidence. They also need guidance in understanding what they might want to do with their future. Interns can provide these opportunities and have a lasting influence in the lives of many children and youth.

Wherever possible, interns will live in the orphanage they serve and thereby become an integral part of the orphanage during their stay. This enables the intern to participate in the regular daily activities of the orphanage: helping children get ready for school, walking with them to school, helping struggling students with homework, and engaging the children in conversation over meals. Interns will also have the opportunity to teach special after-school classes based upon the intern’s abilities and interests and the various needs of the orphanages. Such classes might include English, art, music, health, computers etc. Each intern will also have the opportunity to participate in the organization of charity projects within Bulgaria itself, as we try to help the Bulgarian people to help their own orphans.

More Information and answers to common questions about the Internship Program


Some examples of projects we have approved and funded:

  • Surgeries & hydrocephalus shunts for 96 orphans
  • Replaced 48 windows & 96 doors in the bedrooms/bathrooms at Slaveikov Orphanage
  • Funded a sports, dance, and English course program at Bratsigov
  • 1 and provided all necessary materials, costumes, uniforms & equipment
  • Purchased: washers, dryers, refrigerator, beds & waterproof covers, physical therapy equipment, hygiene and dental supplies, medicines, detergents, playhouses, bicycles, toys and floor for recreation room
  • Provided dental care for 500 orphans at 10 orphanages
  • Rehabilitative care at Kotel Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Classroom repairs and classroom chairs at Sv. Marina.
  • Salaries: 1 doctor, 3 nurses, 1 therapist, 16 babas, 2 folk dance teacher, 1 art teacher and 4 music teachers; 1 sewing & cooking teacher, 1 carpentry teacher, 1 taekwond
  • teacher, 1 table tennis teacher, and 2 librarians
  • Oxygen tent, laser unit for physiotherapy and rehabilitation, 2 aspirators and 2 lung ventilators
  • Books, printer, computer and supplies for library at Slaveikov Orphanage
  • Established 2 libraries: 1 at Assenovets Orphanage and 1 at Bratsigovo Orphanage Complex. Both have excellent librarians.
Assen Zlatarov Music teacher $80/mo.
Assenovets Librarian’s salary $217/mo.
Bratsigovo Complex Librarian’s salary $15/mo.
Buzovgrad Food blender-homogenizer $400
Gabrovo Fabric for sewing class
Powdered Milk
Sewing & cooking teacher’s salary
Kotel Hospital Dryer $1,200
Lozenez Baba salaries $261/mo.
Maria Louiza Folk dance teacher $80
Naretchen Sun umbrella for play area $60
Olga Skobeleva Transition house furniture $5,000
Pleven Therapist $115/mo.
Slaveikov Medicines $100
Stara Zagora 3 incubators for premature babies $20,000
Vidrare Medicines $100
Zelenikovo Medicines & hygiene supplies $250

To donate to one of these projects or find out about new projects, please contact Donna Dushku at

FDI members Roberta and Thyrle Stapley and Becky Johnson assess the Ana Gizdova orphanage

Orphanage Caregiver Training

One Heart Bulgaria is excited to develop a training program for workers in Bulgarian orphanages. Workers in the orphanages we visit are often tired and disillusioned after years of physically and emotionally draining labor. Most workers settle for orphanage jobs when they can’t find any other kind of work. They receive little training and are required to care for large groups of children. The result is that the children receive only the most basic care and do not get the positive adult interaction they require to become healthy and successful adults.

The Training Program is designed to develop appropriate skills and attitudes in the workers, while at the same time helping them understand the importance of their work as a role model—someone who is shaping the future of Bulgaria. Training covers such topics as child development, the rights of children, positive behavior management, social skills development, and understanding the needs of children with disabilities.

Orphanages which wish to participate in the training program commit to sending each member of their staff to at least one training session a quarter and orphanage directors are invited to attend all trainings. Participating orphanages will receive a small grant at the end of the training cycle, part of which is earmarked to fund training-related initiatives: the purchase of books, educational supplies for the children, equipment, child development resources for the staff, etc.

The development cost for this program has yet to be secured. One Heart Bulgaria seeks assistance in raising the funds necessary to fully implement the program.

The orphanage workers are often the closest thing to parents that these children have. By contributing to the Training Program, you can help to provide these surrogate parents with the knowledge and skills they need to bring up a large family.

Family Dynamics International Launches Training Program in Bulgarian orphanages.
For more information please contact Roberta Stapely at Family Dynamics International at

Future Programs

A sewing co-op, and various other micro-enterprises would also provide valuable employment skills for the orphans and generate revenue for the orphanages.

To become involved with these life-skills training programs, please contact: Donna Dushku at