Petia – Bulgaria


Petia was born prematurely, weighing less than 5 pounds, and with a genetic condition affecting her hands. She was very unwell and at risk of abandonment because her parents were struggling to care for her.

Both from Roma and Eastern Orthodox Christian families, Petia’s parents Margarita and Naum were abandoned as children and led disrupted family lives. As a child Margarita was diagnosed with a hereditary condition leading to muscular dystrophy which means she has difficulty with movement and balance as an adult.

The family were referred to an NGO in Bulgaria for support – a referral which probably saved Petia’s life.

Margarita and two-week-old Petia were both unwell when social workers visited the family at their home, a three room house belonging to an uncle who works in Greece. Margarita was suffering with a severe cold and Petia had a very high temperature. She was being looked after by a neighbour, Polina, who reported that she had been very unwell in the previous few days. Both mother and baby were admitted to hospital with Petia in a critical condition. There she was diagnosed with a respiratory problem – bilateral broncho-pneumonia – and a suspected heart problem. Thankfully, the medical team was able to stabilise her.

Two weeks later, Petia and Margarita were discharged and placed together in an Emergency Reception Centre where they could receive the support they needed. Naum visited them as often as possible when he wasn’t labouring on a farm where he had casual work.

In addition to ensuring Petia’s health and wellbeing and providing material support both parents received support to understand how to care for their child, building their confidence so they do not feel the best course of action is to abandon her in an institution. Naum’s grandmother is living in the neighbourhood and is supporting the family to care for Petia.

Margarita was supported to access a disability pension for herself as well as a maternity and child allowance. The family were also supported with budgeting skills to ensure they are able to provide for themselves with their small income.