The growing problem of the depopulation of Bulgarian villages and the loss of the thread with our roots is becoming more and more painful. Many of us live abroad and suffer our absence in this moment, so important for Bulgaria. So am I, thinking for years, what can be done so that the elderly in the villages - the "memory of our people" are not so abandoned, lonely and sad. It turns out that feelings like mine live in the hearts of many people in Bulgaria. An organization with the wonderful name "Idea Factory" creates a project that has up-to-date solutions to this problem. "Idea Factory" is a non-governmental organization that aims to activate processes for social change in Bulgaria. I had the pleasure to talk to Velina Tsankova, who is part of the team of "Factory for Ideas" and she will tell us about "Grandma's Residence", whose focus is to connect young urban people with adults living in depopulated villages.
  •  How and when was the idea of ​​the Baba Residence born?

The idea for "Grandma's Residence" came from Yanina Taneva - founder and main inspirer of "Idea Factory". The depopulation, the broken connection between the generations and the loss of our valuable cultural heritage have plagued it for a long time, until finally in 2014 the real work on "Grandma's Residence" began - with the necessary funding and assistance from partners. It took us several months to choose the villages in which we want to make the "pilot" edition, to visit them at least a few times together with our partners from the Association of Anthropology, Ethnology and Folklore "Angle", to meet the local people and to gain their trust. So in the summer of 2015, 17 young people from all over Bulgaria lived for 1 month in four Rhodope villages - Yugovo, Dryanovo, Dzhurkovo and Manastir. This year, our plans are expanding with the idea of ​​a network of volunteers, or as we call it, the "Grandma Network", in which many more villages will be able to receive help from more young urban people. The one-month residence will also happen. We will soon announce in which villages.

Dzhurkovo Village Photo: Grandmother's Residence

the village of Dzhurkovo
photo: Grandma's Residence

Photo: Grandma's Residence

photo: Grandma's Residence

  •  What gives you work on this project? Emotionally and socially?

I accept "Grandma's Residence" as much more than a project - it is a mission. It personally gives me a connection to tradition and the land that I feel many of us have lost, but is desperately needed today. The very meetings and communication with the elderly in the villages is like a journey, both in the past and in the future at the same time. The values, the human relationships, the wisdom they express, so to speak, by the way, while we are talking about mowing the hay or milking the sheep, the stories about dragons, almost lost rituals, traditions, crafts… and inspiration, and socially helps me feel more connected with the people around me, with Bulgaria.

taking a walk with Grandma Fanka from her native Khalilkovska neighborhood Photo: Grandma's Residence

on a walk with grandma Fanka in her native Halilkovska neighborhood
photo: Grandma's Residence

  •  What is your involvement in the project?

I am the coordinator of the Baba Residence, which is a pretty comprehensive position. All in all, all the information goes through me, and the best part is that I have the opportunity to travel through beautiful, sheltered villages full of colors, stories and traditions.


After Velina introduced us to the ideas of Residence Granny, we will turn our attention to an interesting discovery that happened during the project. In one of the mentioned villages, namely the village of Dryanovo, there is a unique group of grandmothers who still carry the magical spirit of folklore in their hearts and sing authentic songs from the Rhodope Mountains. Thus begins another initiative, which I will introduce to you in the following lines and ask anyone who trembles with excitement at the first sounds of music, or feels how unique and beautiful Bulgarian folklore is, to support and help them with whatever can.

  • Who are the "Dryanovo Grandmothers"?

The singing group in Dryanovo has a long tradition and in its present composition it has existed since 2008. Since then it has regularly won awards for the first place at fairs. But lack of funds limits grandma's travels to a minimum. Older women support the singing group through community and enthusiasm, separating from their own time and resources despite daily work in the steep gardens and animal care.

  • What are the songs of "Dryanovski's Babi"?

This is authentic Rhodope folklore. Some are famous tunes and others are rare and recovered from the memories of the village's elderly. In addition to sensitive songs for love, Dryanovo remembers many historical songs for turning times. Typical of the Rhodope Mountains, they sing aloud, which gives them compelling power. When the keba bagpipe is played and the ten voices are heard in one, the audience gets to their feet!

This is what the organizers of "Idea Factory" and "Grandma's Residence" are currently fighting for…

 We want the voices of the Dryanovo Babi to hear not only the beautiful songs, but also our call to preserve the invaluable traditions, crafts and stories preserved by the local people in the villages. That is why we have launched a campaign aimed at recording in a studio in Sofia in April 2016. The band's repertoire consists of at least 30 songs. The goal is to have all of them recorded and stored. The album, which will be released on a beautiful CD, will be selected from the most authentic and auspicious songs on 12-15.

The values ​​and principles that guide us are:

  •  Continuity and connection between the generations.
  •  Preservation of local cultural heritage as a colorful part of our identity.
  •  Hearing about the problems of the depopulated Bulgarian villages, their stories and unique resources.

Why support such an initiative?

The initiative catalyzes energy for positive change of attitudes in an accessible and inspiring way. We believe that the support for the initiative will promote traditional Bulgarian values ​​and will contribute to a new look at the authentic cultural heritage. At the same time, the Dryanovo Grandmothers initiative with its exciting faces and stories will provide an opportunity to present positive examples of continuity and intergenerational dialogue.

Anyone who wants to help can do so on the campaign link HERE

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