When Silvena Hristova and Krasimir Lambov had a daughter with Down syndrome, they were advised by their doctor, like many other parents in Bulgaria, to place the child in foster care and move on with their lives without her.
Silvena and Krasimir were shocked, not only by the fact that they were given this advice but also by the doctor’s lack of knowledge on the expected healthy development of a child with Down syndrome. With an estimated 100 children born with Down syndrome in Bulgaria each year, Silvena and Krasimir decided to act to change society’s view of these children.
"When Michaela was 2 days old, Krasi told me that we would make people talk about Michaela and other people with Down syndrome. But not to talk them down, not pointing with a finger and mocking them, but quite the opposite." shares Silvena her memories about the beginning of their journey.
She continues: "We created a video where we tell everyone that our daughter has Down syndrome. In the same video, our son, 4 years old at that time, talks and shares that his sister has Down syndrome but that does not stop him to play with her and enjoy their childhood years. This video quickly gained over 200 000 views and we knew we were on the right track"
Around that time the family applied for a place in our Incubator program in Bulgaria, run in partnership with Nova Broadcasting Group, and became one of the 5 selected social entrepreneurs among hundreds of applicants. They received seed funding and tailor-made capacity-building support to develop their idea.
Today, 6 years later, Silvena and Krasimir's Youtube vlog called Life with Down Syndrome and social media channels have hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of video views, offering entertaining and informative video clips that invite viewers to explore the life of Mikaela and their family and learn what it is like to have a child with Down syndrome.
They also organize free camps, and regular sports and therapy activities for children with Down syndrome, which they fund through their merchandise products.
In addition, they advocate for a change in the legislation - for example for providing stable governmental financial support for the families; and successfully fought for a change in all high school textbooks with more up-to-date facts about the syndrome.
Silvena reflects on the importance of the support they received from Reach for Change at such an early stage of their development: "Reach for Change were the ones who believed in us the most, who gave us a chance to get here and get started. Without them, there would be no Life with Down Syndrome at all. We would not have created over 100 videos, we would not have 40 million views. No change was going to happen because, despite our strong desire, we didn't know how to do it."
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