Being a part of it despite hearing impairment

From Angola to Nepal and Bulgaria – help alliance promotes new projects. Among them is the project of Kostadin Kalaydzhiev

About 120,000 people with different level of hearing loss live in Bulgaria. Approximately 20% of them are signers, people using sign language as a primary means of communication. Nationwide there are only three special schools for the deaf and hard of hearing children. However, they are not fully designed for their special needs. As a result, many Bulgarian deaf children’s parents chose to have them attend mainstream schools. However, the majority of teachers, both in special and mainstream schools, and their classmates do not use any sign language, which makes communication between deaf and hearing peers in the educational environment impossible and prevents these children and young people from having equal access to education and social life.


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The Charity Committee of Lufthansa Technik Sofia was founded in 2018 with the goal to support people’s initiatives focused on charity, environment and education. As a member of the Committee, Kostadin Kalaydzhiev and other committed Lufthansa Technik Sofia colleagues are working on different projects, involving many others. During the last year, Kostadin has set himself the goal of changing the lives of the people from the Bulgarian deaf community on a long-term and sustainable basis. This is how the concept has developed with the local Listen Up Foundation, the most prominent non-profit Organisation for setting up innovative inclusive and educational practices for the deaf and hard of hearing people in the country. By providing innovative deaf-friendly classrooms with special equipment and technology as well as innovative teaching methods, deaf and hard of hearing children will be fully included into lessons at school. Selected schools upon eligibility criteria will be motivated to participate actively in innovative deaf and inclusion education practices. In addition, a Deaf Center will be set up at a university, where both deaf and hearing people will be trained to provide innovative methods of training to deaf children and youth. Support for the project has been pledged by the new Bulgarian University, the future location of the Deaf Centre, the Sofia City Municipality and the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science. In addition, teachers, therapists, parents and deaf and hard of hearing students will have access to educational materials and resources via an online platform. The project is part of the help alliance since 2019.

Kostadin Kalaydzhiev, who has been working in strategic HR and innovation project management for Lufthansa Technik Sofia since 2014, talks in an interview about his motivation to submit the project to help alliance. 

How did the idea to submit the project to help alliance come about?

When I got to know the work of help alliance I had the idea to partner up with the Listen Up Foundation in order to innovatively improve the situation of the Bulgarian deaf community. I support this project because I want this community to develop and be strengthened through social inclusion innovations. I firmly believe that education and innovation can lead the situation of the deaf community in Bulgaria into a better future.

What is your personal relationship to the project?

I believe in the power of the human will and the potential of the mind beyond physical differences. In addition to my work at Lufthansa Technik  Sofia, I am an Emotional Intelligence Coach and mentor to a young adult in nursing care. In these five years I have clearly seen how his life has gradually improved. I am aware of the current situation with the Bulgarian deaf and their exclusion. Even now I see no signs of a significant improvement in their lives. That is why I want to help the deaf community so that they know how to help themselves. I would be happy if it could be a visible contribution to the success and progress of the whole Bulgarian society.

You have some of your colleagues from Lufthansa Technik in Sofia who are enthusiastic about getting involved in the project together with you. How exactly does the cooperation work?

I involved my colleagues in the project right from the start, with the aim of achieving the highest good. The members of the Lufthansa Technik Charity Committee were the first to get involved, followed by colleagues from other departments. The idea is to continuously involve colleagues who are interested in devoting themselves to this project.

Further information about the project can be found here.


Welcome to the help alliance family

In addition to Kostadin Kalaydzhiev’s project, the following four new will be funded – get to know the project coordinators:

Angola: Strong community for orphan girls

Lothar Weber joined LSG Sky Chefs at the end of 2012 and is General Manager of Operations and local joint venture with Angolan national airline TAAG Angolan Airlines. Prior to that, he worked for more than 20 years in multinational German companies in Portugal. Together with his employees, he supports the home with orphans and street children in a detached house: “In an African country with great social challenges and poverty, I am very grateful that we are able to motivate our employees to support the home with monthly, small contributions.”

Further information about the project can be found here.

Gambia: Career Prospects for Returnees

Edith Lanfer is a Lufthansa employee in part-time retirement: “Together with my husband I founded the Sabab Lou Foundation. Our motto ‘Creating work together’ is both a principle and a sustainable development approach. I helped to develop the concept for the project and am actively involved in the planning and implementation. The project creates agricultural education for Gambian teenagers and adults firstly in order to provide them with prospects to stay and secondly to give those who were returned a life perspective and to free them from the stigma that they have disappointed the whole family and can no longer go home”.

Further information about the project can be found here.

Nepal: The Future lies in Spices

Dominik Kopp, Lufthansa training captain A340 in Munich, has long been committed to social issues around the world. “During my studies, I specialized in development cooperation for South America. After working as a development aid worker in Trujillo, Peru, I became involved in various projects. Besides Nepal, I am also active for the help alliance in Vietnam. The aim of the project is to help farmers in the region in selling their spice products – especially cardamom and Szechuan pepper. There is a need for small farmers to improve their capacity according to international standards, which is the reason why an improved infrastructure and technology is needed”.

Further information about the project can be found here.

Sri Lanka: Early Childhood Education for 220 Children

Laurent Bobay is a pilot at Edelweiss. “I have known the Frangipani Kindergarten Center since it was founded in 2006, because my sister-in-law played a key role in building up the children’s charity. For several years now I have been supporting the sponsorship of two orphans. It is a matter close to my heart to support the children in Sri Lanka”.

You can find out more about the project here.