(12 Jun) Celebration of Croatian-Bulgarian Cultural Association (+GAL)

Rotary Club Sofia International celebrated an evening at the Croatian-Bulgarian Cultural Association in Sofia, where our friend and member, Mr. Domagoj Stefan, welcomed us and ensured the evening honored cross-cultural heritage and fostered friendship among Rotarians and guests. We were captivated by the association’s dedication to preserving Croatian traditions in Bulgaria.

After our Secretary, Ms. Ani Hristova, opened the evening, Mr. Domagoj Stefan presented slides and guided us through the history and traditions of Croatia. We were fascinated to learn about the country’s development from the early 90s to today, discovering a beautiful place worth visiting. We eagerly look forward to building bonds and collaborating on projects with Rotary Clubs in Croatia.

Rotary Club Sofia International will host its next meeting on June 19 at the Hotel Hilton Sofia, where we will hear about current risks and efforts towards green energy transition in Bulgaria and the world from guest speaker, Mr. Dimitar Enchev. As we approach the end of our meetings for the Rotary year 2023-2024, we express our gratitude to our President, Mr. Dale, for his exceptional leadership and for keeping the spirit of Rotary alive. Join us in experiencing the magic of Rotary in uplifting societies in Bulgaria and around the world.

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(1 Jun) Celebrating Friendship and Collaboration: Rotary Club Sofia International Hosts Rotary Club Rüsselsheim – Groß Gerau (+GAL)

On June 1st, Rotary Club Sofia International had the distinct pleasure of hosting esteemed guests from Rotary Club Rüsselsheim – Groß Gerau. Led by the dedicated Rotarian Mrs. Sigrun Comati, who played a crucial role in facilitating a generous donation of medical equipment to Bulgaria through our Med-Bul project, their visit was a testament to the spirit of international friendship and collaboration that defines Rotary.

The evening unfolded at the picturesque Vodenitsata Restaurant, where our guests were treated to a delightful showcase of Bulgarian cuisine and culture. Amidst the warm ambiance and scenic surroundings, we enjoyed local delicacies that delighted the senses and provided a true taste of Bulgaria’s culinary heritage.

Highlighting the evening was a mesmerizing display of traditional fire dancing, a spectacle that captivated all present with its rhythmic beats and vibrant energy. It was a moment where cultural traditions fused seamlessly with Rotary fellowship, creating memories that will be cherished by both our guests and hosts alike.

Beyond the festivities, the gathering was an opportunity for meaningful exchange of ideas and experiences. Discussions flourished, friendships were nurtured, and plans for future collaborations were forged. The atmosphere was vibrant yet relaxed, reflecting the strong bonds of camaraderie that unite Rotary clubs worldwide.

At Rotary Club Sofia International, we are deeply grateful to our friends from Rotary Club Rüsselsheim – Groß Gerau for their visit and for enriching our community with their presence. Together, we reaffirm our commitment to service above self and to making a positive impact in our respective communities and beyond.

As we look forward to future exchanges and collaborations, we celebrate the power of Rotary in bringing people together across borders and cultures. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this evening a resounding success.

Here’s to continued friendship, collaboration, and shared Rotary values.

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(31 May) Rotary Club Sofia International hosts twin club Rotary Club Paris-Agora (+GAL)

Meeting #29 of the Rotary Club Sofia International took place on 31 May 2024 at the Hilton Sofia. We had the distinct pleasure of hosting a joint meeting with our dear friends from Rotary Club Paris-Agora, including Mr. Alain Mortreaux, Mr. Guy Billoud, Mrs. Blandine Billoud and Mr. Yann Ababou. The evening was truly delightful, filled with the exchange of ideas and warm fellowship that left us all feeling inspired and connected.

The next day, our journey took us to Samokov, where we had the honor of attending the christening of the Centre for Social Rehabilitation and Integration of Children and Adults. This significant project, a Global Grant initiative supported by Rotary Club Paris-Agora, stands as a testament to the incredible collaboration between Rotary Club Samokov and the local municipality (represented on the day by current Mayor: Mr. Angel Dzhorgov and past mayor Mr. Vladimir Georgiev) . Their combined efforts to bring this project to life were nothing short of amazing, and we were proud to witness the fruition of such a meaningful endeavor.

In Samokov, we also visited the local town museum, which provided us with fascinating insights into the region’s rich cultural heritage. Later in the afternoon, our group visited the picturesque Tsarska Bistritsa in Borovets. The beauty of the surroundings and the rich history of the site added a special touch to our visit. A big thank you to the organizers:

Mrs. Evelina Spasova;

Mrs. Ekaterina Vadajiiska, Assistant District Governor;

Mr. Radoslav Naydenov, President Elect;

Mr. Vladimir Vassilev, Past President;

Mr. Luboslav Barzanov.

All in all, it was a lovely few days filled with fun, camaraderie, and the true spirit of Rotary fellowship. We cherished the time spent together and look forward to many more opportunities to connect and collaborate.

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(22 May) Presentation by Dr. Anastasius Christakakis, President of Rotary Club Alexandropolis, Greece and the Story How he Became a Rotarian…With Ride for Polio (+GAL)

We are delighted to share moments from our recent meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Sofia, where we had the honor of welcoming our esteemed friend, Dr. Anastasius Christakakis, President of Rotary Club Alexandropolis in Greece, along with other guests. During this gathering, we discussed several important topics, including our ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, a successful summary of our recent fundraising event, and our eagerly anticipated upcoming meetings.

Dr. Christakakis traveled specifically to Sofia to deliver a compelling presentation on their club’s significant contribution to Rotary’s most critical mission: the eradication of polio. This disease, once feared worldwide, has been successfully tackled through collaborative efforts. The plan involved connecting five countries- Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania- by organizing Rotarians to participate in a six-day motorcycle ride or meet the team in one of these nations. The funds raised through this remarkable initiative provided over 17,000 vaccines, contributing to the global fight against polio.

The success story of polio eradication underscores the power of unity and collaboration. Rotary, in partnership with the Gates Foundation, worked tirelessly to provide vaccines and improve sanitation in affected regions. Together, we have achieved what was once considered impossible.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who joined us, sharing inspiring stories and keeping the spirit of our mission alive. Additionally, we express our sincere thanks to those who attended and supported our fundraising event. Their contributions will significantly impact our commitment to establish a photovoltaic plant at the center for families and children recovering from oncohematological diseases. Furthermore, the funds raised will advance our Med-Bul project, which facilitates the provision of medical equipment in Bulgaria.

As we gather each week, we eagerly exchange valuable experiences, build lasting friendships, and strengthen our unwavering belief in Rotary’s mission—to create hope and positive change in the world.

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(15 May) Fundraising Gala – A Heartfelt Thank You for a Wonderful Fundraising Evening (+GAL)

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We are delighted to share the success of our recent fundraising event held on May 15th. The evening was a resounding success, filled with warmth, generosity, and a shared commitment to making a positive impact. Your support and participation have made this possible, and we are deeply grateful.

The event, hosted in the beautiful lobby of the National Museum of History, was organized together with Rotary Club Sofia International, Rotary Club Sofia-Vitosha, and Rotary Club Gorna Banya. Our joint efforts focused on supporting two noble causes: assisting disadvantaged children through the Association “Children with Oncohematologic Diseases” and facilitating the MED-BUL project, which transports donated medical equipment from abroad to Bulgarian hospitals in need.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to our distinguished guests: members of Rotary Club Blouberg (South Africa), Rotary Club Port Alfred (South Africa), Rotary Club Ankara International (Turkey), and Rotary Club Dillenburg (District 1820, Germany). Your presence honored us and highlighted the significance of our mission.

The evening was enriched by wonderful performances, including a harp recital, a folklore program, and the inspiring speeches of our esteemed club presidents and guests. The highlight was the charity auction and raffle, which saw enthusiastic participation and generous contributions.

A special thank you goes to our sponsors and partners:

Noble House
Chateau ChaTony
VIP Catering
Mihalkovo AD
Sell Mark
National Museum of History
Alberto Staykov
Natali Mark – Handmade
Domagoj Stefan
Hilton Sofia
Da Vinci Dental Clinic
Olga Uskova
New Bulgarian University
Alexandrina Kushnicharova
Angelina Grozeva
Anelia Taleb – Patricia and Amer Beauty Center
Granatus Bakery & Cafe
Publishing company Sunray
Lina Maymarova
Adriana Tzaneva
Emilia Bistrina
Natalia Bondarenko
Community Center “Probuda-1926” Gorna Banya
Hristo Georgiev
Real Vision
Ivan Penov
ASMPIPSMPP Dr. Tzaribachev Ltd.
Ivan RC Sofia City
Vladimir Vassilev
Monika Chopakova
Vili Evtimova
Gergana Todorova
and many others.

Your support is invaluable.

Finally, we are grateful to all our guests for your presence and contributions. You have truly embraced the spirit of giving, helping us to make a lasting difference in the lives of those in need. As we continue to pass on the goodness, we are reminded that every act of kindness leaves a lasting mark on the future.

Thank you once again, and we look forward to your continued support.

Warm regards,

Grant Dale
President, Rotary Club Sofia International

Ani Hristova
Secretary, Rotary Club Sofia International

LINK to photographs from the event

С удоволствие споделяме успеха на нашето скорошно благотворително събитие, проведено на 15 май. Вечерта беше огромен успех, изпълнена с топлина, щедрост и споделена ангажираност към създаването на положително въздействие. Вашата подкрепа и участие направиха това възможно, и ние сме дълбоко благодарни.

Събитието, проведено в красивото фоайе на Националния исторически музей, организирано съвместно между Ротари Клуб София Интернешънъл, Ротари Клуб София-Витоша и Ротари Клуб Горна Баня. Нашите съвместни усилия бяха насочени към подкрепата на две благородни каузи: подпомагане на деца чрез Сдружение „Деца с онкохематологични заболявания“ и подпомагане на проекта MED-BUL, който осигурява транспорт на дарено медицинско оборудване от чужбина за български болници в нужда.

Изказваме сърдечната си благодарност на нашите почетни гости: членове на Ротари Клуб Блуберг (Южна Африка), Ротари Клуб Порт Алфред (Южна Африка), Ротари Клуб Анкара Интернешънъл (Турция) и Ротари Клуб Дилленбург (Дистрикт 1820, Германия). Вашето присъствие беше важно за нас и подчерта значимостта на нашата мисия.

Вечерта беше обогатена от прекрасни изпълнения, включително изпълнение на арфа, фолклорна програма и вдъхновяващите речи на нашите уважавани клубни президенти и гости. Кулминацията беше благотворителният търг и томбола, които предизвикаха ентусиазирано участие и щедри дарения.

Специална благодарност изказваме на нашите спонсори и партньори:

Ноубъл Хаус
Шато Шатони
VIP Кетъринг
Михалково АД
Sell Mark
Национален исторически музей
Алберто Стайков
Natali Mark – Handmade
Домагой Стефан
Хилтън София
Дентална клиника Да Винчи
Олга Ускова
Нов български университет
Александрина Кушничарова
Ангелина Грозева
Анелия Талеб – център за красота Патриция и Амер
Granatus Bakery & Cafe
Издателство Сънрей Профешънъл
Лина Маймарова
Адриана Цанева
Емилия Бистрина
Наталия Бондаренко
Читалище „Пробуда-1926“ гр. Горна Баня
Христо Георгиев
Real Vision
Иван Пенов
Иван Тодоров
Владимир Василев
Моника Чопaкова
Вили Евтимова
Гергана Тодорова
и много други.

Вашата подкрепа е безценна.

И накрая, благодарим на всички наши гости за вашето присъствие и принос. Вие наистина прегърнахте духа на даването, помагайки ни да направим трайна разлика в живота на нуждаещите се. Докато продължаваме да предаваме доброто, ние си напомняме, че всяко добро дело оставя траен отпечатък в бъдещето.

Още веднъж благодарим и очакваме вашата продължаваща подкрепа.

Сърдечни поздрави,

Грант Дейл
Президент на Ротари Клуб София Интернешънъл

Ани Христова
Секретар, Ротари Клуб София Интернешънъл

Линк към снимки от събитието

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(11-12 May) First Balkan Rotary Fest, Vlasina Lake, Serbia (+GAL)

The inaugural Balkan Rotary Fest took place on May 11 and 12, 2024, at Serbia’s Vlasina Lake in the municipality of Surdulica.

Vlasina Lake, a semi-artificial lake in Southeast Serbia, lies at an altitude of 1,211 meters and covers an area of 16 square kilometers. It holds the distinction of being Serbia’s highest and largest artificial lake. Formed between 1947 and 1951, the lake resulted from the closure of the Vlasina mud peat bog by a dam, which allowed the waters of incoming rivers (chiefly the Vlasina) to submerge the area. The serene surroundings and clean air make Vlasina Lake a truly wonderful and peaceful destination.

The First Balkan Rotary Fest brought together Rotarians, their families, friends, representatives from tourist organizations, associations, local governments, and interested individuals from the border region of Serbia, North Macedonia, and Bulgaria. The event featured a diverse program catering to various forms of tourism, including sports, cultural experiences, health activities, education, and music. This interdistrict festival celebrated the cultural, historical, and natural heritage of local communities, showcasing folk music, dances, crafts, and traditional dishes.

A highlight of the fest was the presentation of traditional clothing and food from the participating countries. Our Past President, Ms. Hristova, attended the event and introduced our Club, connecting with fellow attendees ahead of our Gala on May 15.

Under the patronage of Rotary Governors from Districts 2483, 2482, 1912, and Rotary International, the Balkan Rotary Fest promoted Rotary ideals, fostered unique social interactions, strengthened regional cooperation, and supported sustainable economic development in the border regions of Serbia, North Macedonia, and Bulgaria. The fest was organized by Rotary clubs including Pirot, Leskovac, Vranje, Vranje-Bora Stanković, and the Rotary satellite club Luznica. Their efforts were bolstered by support from Rotary District 2483 Serbia and Montenegro, the Surdulica municipality, the Tourist Organization of Serbia, and Minister of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Novice Tončeva.

The fest’s idea, program, activities, and the delightful dinner accompanied by Serbian songs left a lasting impression. Rotary Club Sofia International extends gratitude to Ms. Vili Evtimova for the invitation and offers special thanks to the main organizer, Mr. Vladica Tošić.

Create hope in the world.

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(11-12 May) Yearly Rotary District Bulgaria Conference at Stara Zagora

The Annual District Conference of Rotary Bulgaria, District 2482, took place at the Meridian Palace Hotel in Stara Zagora during the weekend of May 11-12, 2024.

The conference kicked off on Saturday morning with the introductory session titled “The Power of Good.” The event began with an official ceremony, followed by welcoming remarks from notable figures including the President of Rotary Club Stara Zagora – Beroe, the District Governor Mr. Christo Michailovsky, and the Mayor of Stara Zagora city. During this session, the District Governor highlighted the achievements and initiatives of the current Rotarian year, with a special focus on celebrating 90 years of Rotary in Bulgaria. The conference featured exhibitions showcasing the contributions of individuals who have shaped Rotary’s history in Bulgaria and highlighted significant projects undertaken over the years.

One of the standout presentations was by Rotary Club Stara Zagora – Beroe, which shared their impactful project called “United Against Drugs.” This initiative aimed to raise awareness about the harmful effects of drugs among young adults through influencer campaigns, seminars, and communication activities. The project’s success demonstrated a best practice that could be scaled nationwide.

Another remarkable project was presented by Mrs. Hristina Malchevska, Past President of Rotary Club Sofia International. Their project transformed the efforts of the sitting volleyball team “Sofia Owls” into a field hockey program for kids with intellectual disabilities. Thanks to Rotary Club Sofia International’s support, these young athletes participated in the Special Olympics in Berlin 2023, where they achieved remarkable results. The project received attention from the media and even garnered a special greeting from the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Rumen Radev.

Following a satisfying lunch, the conference continued with inspiring presentations from other Rotary Bulgaria initiatives. Notably, the “Secret Santa” project, led by Past District Governor Mrs. Violina Kostova, united Sofia’s Rotary clubs to provide Christmas presents for families in need. Collaborative efforts involving Rotaract and Interact clubs demonstrated how collective action can create a positive impact on society.

Rotary Club Sofia Balkan also showcased their long-standing project: basketball for disabled individuals. This initiative exemplified how sports can empower people in need and give meaning to their lives.

The conference concluded with engaging presentations from Interact and Rotaract, highlighting their year-round projects and their commitment to making a difference in Sofia and beyond.

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(9 May) Rotaract Clubs in Bulgaria Present “Closet with a Cause” (+GAL)

The Sofia edition of this year’s National initiative of the Rotaract clubs in Bulgaria, “Closet with a Cause”, took place on May 9th, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Rotaract Club Sofia Serdika, Rotaract Club Sofia International, Rotaract Club Sofia Vitosha, and with the generous support of Rotary Club Sofia International.

The event provided an excellent platform for informal networking on sustainable fashion and emphasized the importance of extending the life cycle of existing clothes. Our special guest speakers were the inspiring creators of Unboxed, a platform for reselling fashion items. Guests had the opportunity to purchase items from Unboxed, with proceeds going towards supporting our cause. The event raised over 300 BGN, which will be allocated to purchasing basic necessities for the Home for Temporary Accommodation of Homeless and Socially Disadvantaged Persons and Families in Need in the town of Varna.

Any unsold clothes and shoes from the event will be either donated or recycled, ensuring that they continue to serve a purpose. We extend our gratitude to our partners at WorkBetter and Mania for their support in promoting sustainable practices and curbing fast fashion.

Rotary Club Sofia International is immensely proud of the success of this event and pledges continued support to Rotaract Club Sofia International in their endeavors promoting sustainability and social responsibility.

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(7 May) Pledge for Peace and Continuation of Ongoing Efforts with Mr. Gordon R. McInally, the President of Rotary International, and our Friends from Rotary Club Cubao, Quezon City (QC) Philippines (+GAL)

A momentous meeting recently occurred between two Rotary Clubs under the support of Mr. Gordon R. McInally, the President of Rotary International. Less than a year ago, at the beginning of his presidential term, Mr. McInally introduced the theme for this Rotary year – to Create Hope in the World. This was precisely the message he conveyed during the virtual meeting held on May 7th, which brought together Rotary Club Sofia International and Rotary Club Cubao Quezon City (QC) Philippines.

The hybrid gathering united over 15 members from both clubs, where we joyfully began by presenting our ongoing projects, including:

  • The Rehabilitation Center for Children and Families recovering from Oncohematological Diseases
  • The Med-Bul Project, dedicated to providing new medical equipment to hospitals in Sofia and the region
  • Rotary Club Sofia International’ collaboration with the Bulgarian Field Hockey Federation (BFHF) for the establishment of an ID Hockey Team for children with special needs, who won a silver medal at the Special Olympics in Berlin, Germany

Following this, the past President of Rotary Club Cubao, Paul Estrebillo, outlined the club’s initiatives aimed at improving access to healthcare in local communities and expressed their eagerness to collaborate with communities beyond their region. The club is also actively raising global funds to support those in need beyond their immediate reach.

Mr. McInally celebrated these endeavors with us and encouraged us to continue creating hope through causes close to our clubs. His emphasis on promoting peace, one of Rotary’s core pillars, is particularly crucial in today’s troubled world. Rotary’s partnerships with various organizations to advocate for peace exemplify the club’s international efforts to promote good health, support the disadvantaged, care for the environment, and foster peace. We also reflected on Rotary Club’s remarkable success in eradicating the Polio virus by 99%, envisioning a world free from Polio.

Another significant point raised by Mr. McInally and our President, Mr. Grant Dale, was the importance of mutual support in regions of the world where people, especially mothers and children, are displaced and struggle to lead normal lives from birth through adulthood. Rotary continues to provide assistance in hard-to-reach areas in Africa where healthcare and education are still developing. Together, we pledged to extend help to others while also focusing on and fundraising for projects in our respective countries. Our recent book donation project in Greece and support for school restoration in South Africa exemplify our commitment to creating lasting change beyond borders.

We are grateful for the time spent with these remarkable individuals on behalf of Rotary Club Cubao Philippines and President Gordon R. McInally, as we learn from one another, nurture our dreams, address challenges, and actively work towards Creating Hope in the World

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(1 May) Meeting with Mr. Michael Angerer, Rotary Club Hietzing Vienna with Members of Rotary Club Sofia International (+GAL)

Our dear former member, Mr. Michael Angerer, now a member of Rotary Club Hietzing Vienna, returns to Bulgaria to meet with Rotary Club Sofia International.

Rotary is dedicated to promoting peace, caring for the disadvantaged, and fostering lifelong friendships. Our recent celebration of friendship serves as a testament to these ideals. Mr. Michael Angerer, a former member of Rotary Club Sofia International until 2014, journeyed all the way from Austria to Sofia, Bulgaria, to reconnect with us and discuss pressing matters facing his current club, the Rotary Club of Hietzing in Vienna.

Amidst the bustling atmosphere of Vitosha Boulevard on May 1st, we seized the opportunity to exchange ideas across borders. Topics ranged from expanding our MED-BUL project to supplying much-needed medical equipment from Austria to Bulgarian hospitals in dire need of renewal. Michael also enlightened us about innovative initiatives within Rotary, particularly their project supporting children with autism. Collaborating with a company offering groundbreaking brain stimulation therapy, their efforts have yielded remarkable results, a model they aim to replicate in Bulgaria.

Proudly, we shared our recent accomplishments, including our support for a recovery center aiding families and children battling oncohematological diseases. Our commitment to enhancing the center’s facilities aligns with our mission to provide hope and healing to those in need. Michael was captivated by our narrative of transforming a fledgling hockey team for disadvantaged individuals into an Olympic champion at last year’s Special Olympics in Berlin. Through collaboration with the Bulgarian Hockey Federation and our dedicated member and friend, Mr. Jörg Schenk, we secured additional financial support from the Bulgarian government, ensuring the club’s continued success in bringing joy to countless families.

Additionally, we shared the project of the International Service Committee – the Danube Alliance. We were impressed to learn that Michael had kept the pages of the Address book of our Club for many years, preserving memories of our Club and its members.

Michael’s visit reaffirmed Rotary’s transcendent nature, illustrating how our organization extends beyond geographical boundaries. With over 11 members hailing from Germany and Austria, our club in Bulgaria welcomes all who share our passion for Rotary’s values. We express our gratitude to Michael for his visit and eagerly anticipate the positive impact this “return to home” meeting will have on our ongoing efforts to spread goodwill and foster hope worldwide.

See you soon, dear friend!

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We meet on Wednesday at 18:45 in
Hilton Sofia, 1 Bulgaria Blvd., Sofia.

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