Steliana, introduce yourself in a few sentences
My name is Steliana Tonchevska-Marinova or Stella for short. I am 27 years old, the mother of the most beautiful daughter, and currently the director of social activities and projects at the Social Teahouse in Varna. I studied International Relations at King’s College London and along with all the youth and social projects that I have undertaken since I was 15, I ended up in the NGO field, where I help young people who grew up in institutions or in unfavorable family environments.
When did you first get involved with a social project and realize in general that cause work is “your thing”?
I would say that the first social activity I did was my participation in the Prevention Club at the high school where I studied. During the three years, I was part of the club, I was a lecturer on the topic of the Prevention of alcohol and drug abuse. The main goal was to inform high school students about the risks involved in the use of psychoactive substances. In addition to making the youth at least a little more informed about the substances they might encounter, I was also able to develop skills in public speaking and dealing with taboo subjects, and the constant contact with peers from across the city was a super bonus.
Your job is extremely interesting but also very difficult. What motivates you and keeps you optimistic?
Work at the Teahouse is very interesting and different every day. We provide the first job and mentoring support to youth raised in institutions and at-risk family environments. Every young person is different and the problems they solve are unique. My job is to help them find their way and be independent. When we can solve a problem together, it feels great because I believe that the young are wonderful people who deserve to be supported. I believe that one day they will change the world and that motivates me to be with them every day.
How does a cause win you over? What are the areas of social work with which you are most involved?
The causes that win me over are those that make sense for the place and time in which I live. Often people involved in social projects want to help everyone, but this is not possible. I want to be an engine for change in the field of youth and empower young people to be more active citizens. In the meantime, I try to help all colleagues and organizations that are making a difference in their fields and in their way. When everyone is giving their best for their own cause and we support each other we will be able to “fix” everything.
Why do you think it is important for a person to try to have a career in a field that is close to his heart?
Because nothing can replace the energy and enthusiasm you can put into an activity you really care about. Only then do decisions come naturally and work is easy and enjoyable.
What would you say to people who are hesitant to work on their goals and dreams?
I know it’s hard to follow our dreams. Sometimes no one supports us, and sometimes there is no financial support for what we want to do, but I would advise everyone to try to include their dreams in some part of their daily life. Only then do we feel like we’re really living, and isn’t that the most important thing in the end?