Remote Year is thriving with positive impact in Sofia, Bulgaria – building T.R.A.P. together with Trotoara

Remote Year 12th group Veritas

Digital nomads, visiting Sofia as part of a year-long journey around the world, are helping to establish a new creative space for young people in the Bulgarian capital.

Nathan, Stevie, Zack and Nicolas are part of a group of 52 participants of Remote Year, a company which enables professionals working remotely to travel the world together. The group started their journey in Split, Croatia, and continued onto Prague and Valencia before setting up in Sofia for the month of August.

While their travel itinerary already allows for immersion in local communities, many welcomed the chance to contribute by volunteering as well.

They are helping Trotoara – Bulgarian foundation which wants to encourage young people in the country to turn to creative expression. Established in 2014, the organization is currently renovating a building in downtown Sofia with the aim of turning it into a diverse art centre that is free to use for all willing children and teenagers.

“Working for charities was not part of the program but in our first location, in Split, we had an opportunity to volunteer for a local organization – and in Split it was a dog shelter – so a bunch of us liked the idea and we also wanted the chance to do something that will continue, for us and for other groups”

“I am really impressed with what they have done in just a short amount of time – the momentum, the attitude, the vision – it seems that they are in a state of flow that is enjoyable for me to be around and participate in” said Nathan, a project manager from New York.

T.R.A.P. – Trotoara Room for Angry People, Frontspace
Photo credit: Kimberly Koenig

Music, dance, painting, theatre and other free classes and workshops will be offered in the facility, which T.R.A.P. is now working to renovate. With big corporate sponsors yet to arrive, the organization is turning to the grassroots for support, funding the ongoing work with digital fundraising drives and gatherings such as concerts.

This is the third group of Remote Year participants that have helped literally rebuild the new centre.

“Bulgaria’s troubled political past as well as the pressures of modernization have lead to a host of social problems and many young people lack positive role models” said Deyan Yankov, Trotoara’s founder and director.

“Our goal is to create a supporting, nourishing environment for kids and teenagers who can gain confidence in themselves through creative self-expression” he said.

T.R.A.P. is also receiving assistance in project management and marketing strategy from people who have worked for leading companies in these fields. The group is also setting up an online portal with information about the projects and communities they are helping.

“Through the portal, people can donate and they can have a connection to TRAP or any of the other organizations we will be helping on the way” said Nicholas.

For T.R.A.P., this kind of know-how, exposure and practical support is invaluable, said its founder.

“We have set ourselves a very ambitious goal to bring innovative pedagogy methods to Bulgaria” said Deyan. “There are still many challenges to overcome but the support from people like Nathan, Stevie, Zack, Nicholas and Remote Year is a sign we are on the right track.”

Deyan Yankov, Director @ Trotoara Foundation
Photo credit: Kimberly Koenig

Remote Year Veritas Cleans Up with T.R.A.P. Positive Impact Project!

During August 2017, Remote Year Veritas has been living in Sofia, Bulgaria. A city with the lowest per capita income in the EU. A city where educational and job opportunities are limited. A city where youth often feel hopeless. But there is a non-profit organization in Sofia that is helping provide positive and creative outlets to combat that hopelessness. Trotoara and it’s project Trotoara Room for Angry People (T.R.A.P.) is doing great things as you can see in the attached video links. Remote Year Programs, Veritas, Kaizen and Balboa have connected with T.R.A.P. to channel the talents and energy of our teams to help T.R.A.P. build out the first phase of their gathering room in Sofia to encourage music, dance, art, drama and other forms of positive creative expression.

Balboa was first in. In June 2017 the team partnered with T.R.A.P. to help convert the space from a run down industrial facility by clearing garbage and waste so it could eventually become a creative space for teens to gather.
“It was a wonderful experience to work on the TRAP! Deyan was extremely inspiring, helping us all see his vision for the space, explaining its importance in the community, and providing meaning to our hours of work converting the space.” – Feef Anthony

Photo gallery (click for more)

Remote year is thriving with positive impact in Sofia, Bulgaria – building T.R.A.P. together with Trotoara

Remote year is thriving with positive impact in Sofia, Bulgaria – building T.R.A.P. together with Trotoara

Next up was Kaizen in July 2017. They put the plans laid out by Balboa into action, continuing to demolish walls and clear away rubble. Under the leadership of Positive Impact Kommittee members Sean Marier, Janaki Desai and Aimee Drouin, Kaizens banded together to literally clear a way that would allow T.R.A.P. to move forward with their vision. Dan Dearborn of Kaizen says

“Volunteering for TRAP felt like supporting the small business in the city that everyone was rooting for.”

In August 2017, Veritas’ Positive Impact team, led by Nathan Kroop and Nick Tyrel, got to “build upon” the work of Balboa and Kaizen. The team mobilized to tackle construction of the first 90 SM phase of the project, involving additional demolition, cleanup, electrical and painting work. But before that work could begin, the problem of money for materials had to be solved. The solution? HAVE A PARTY!
Veritas provided some seed money and T.R.A.P. Founder, Deyan Yankov, mobilized a group of local volunteers to procure and deliver food, drink, ice and other supplies to the space, as well as provide traditional Bulgarian bagpipe music, courtesy of Hristo and Stanimir and other live music by Dimo Stoyanov from the famous band P.I.F. Veritas and the Remote Year Admissions Team, also in Sofia in August, turned out in force to support the fundraising effort.

Veritians Will Ferguson, Eric Chueng and Eden Sherry put their heads on the block as opportunities to provide them with “haircuts”, using clippers provided by Ian Lo, were auctioned off. For a donation of 10 leva nominal charge, Nathan Kroop provided hands on instruction to anyone wanting to improve their skills in the lost art of opening (very cheap!) champagne bottles with a sword. All told, the party raised 1800 leva, which was well over the amount needed to get started on the project. In fact, the overage was enough to allow T.R.A.P. to add a security system to the construction plan.

Funds in hand, Veritas helped Deyan move ahead with the actual construction work. On August 14th, an advance team did painting prep, demolished crumbling plaster, removed old light fixtures and got started on demolition of a portion of the old subflooring that needed replacement. A second group followed up on August 16th, continuing demolition of the flooring, relocating salvaged bricks and beginning the painting work. A final group finished up the painting work on August 18th.

Now that a functional meeting area is almost ready, Veritas is still working to help Deyan with other needs, such as strategic planning and fundraising outreach, to help T.R.A.P. move ahead.

Remote Year is having a Positive Impact in Sofia!

Article written by Scott Dukette (RY Veritas member) and Vesela Todorova

This post is also available in: Bulgarian

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