About the project
At the beginning of 2014, the Infinite Opportunities Association, together with the National Center “European Youth Programs and Initiatives”, began the implementation of the project Toler@nce Pl@tform.bg. While developing Toler@nce Pl@tform.bg, we wanted to fill the vacuum in youth work by focusing on limiting hate speech and protecting human rights on the Internet with an alternative that took into account the importance of virtual reality for young people and built a positive image of the different among us, provided additional information, counseling and support to young people affected by hate speech, and reached a significant number of young people across the country as a result of a parallel offline information campaign.
Five years later, far-right rhetoric, hate speech and the planting of negative images of the different ones are part of the usual in Bulgaria. They are persistently present in the Bulgarian political and media environment, only the intensity of use in relation to the various affected groups changes. At the same time, public countermeasures in the country are either completely absent or have limited effect. A 2018 survey of public attitudes towards hate speech by the Open Society Institute identified a problem: the group of teachers is among the two communities that find it most difficult to define the meaning and scope of hate speech. Moreover, teachers do not profess tolerance as a value, they transfer the responsibility for human rights education to the children’s parents. In such an environment, the Toler@nce Platform in version 2.0 is experiencing a renaissance, taking into account current social processes and attitudes towards the seemingly different people. Today, our main goal is to create online and offline resources aimed at a new audience, to support human rights education and to promote in the long run the acceptance of the differences and the diversity of people and images in our society. We fight racism, xenophobia, hate speech and intolerance in society through the methods of non-formal education, gamification and the accumulation of personal transformative experiences in young people through volunteering and active civic participation in causes and campaigns.
Objectives and expected results
The specific objectives of the project include:
- Development and approval by the Ministry of Education and Science of qualification courses for attestation credits for pedagogical specialists on the topics of human rights, hate speech prevention and promotion of diversity in the classroom;
- Upgrading the existing Toler@nce Platform to become a reference resource base for teachers, youth workers and activists working with young people to protect human rights;
- Involving young people in volunteer and campaign actions to protect human rights and promote tolerance.
Some of the expected products and results are:
- 3 developed and approved training programs for pedagogical specialists in human rights for primary and secondary education and counteraction to hate speech and discriminatory attitudes;
- Updating the website, creating new sections, redesigning the Tolerado online game and creating a board version;
- Conducting a campaign to raise awareness of human rights in 10 cities in the country.
Infinite Opportunities Association (IOA) is a non-governmental organization established in early 2010. Our team works to promote understanding, tolerance and equality between different social groups in Bulgarian society.
Infinite Opportunities Association is an organization working for the tolerant acceptance of the diversity of people and personal stories in modern society. Our mission is to sharpen the sensitivity of young people on various topics on the human rights spectrum, leaving ‘food for thought’ through non-formal education.
IOA places special emphasis on intersectionality and engages in its activities people with disabilities, LGBT people, of minority origin and disadvantaged social status. The women’s theme is present in all of the IOA initiatives, from training through empowering girls through school presentations on gender stereotypes to working in small geographically isolated and conservative communities where girls are usually at home. We strive to export and build capacity outside Sofia—we consciously and systematically implement the main part of our projects and initiatives in small, sometimes even remote settlements along with a network of multiplayers, with whom we actively partner for change at the local level.
More of the statutory goals of the organization are:
- To promote, propagate and encourage young people to participate in all forms of civic activity, social engagement and volunteering;
- To educate on the protection of human rights and work to reduce discrimination;
- To create an environment that promotes tolerance and accepts diversity.
Part of the palette of projects of the association include:
- Toler@nce Pl@tform.bg, within the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (FM of the EEA) 2009—2014;
- Toler@nce Caravan, within the framework of the European Voluntary Service and the Youth in Action Programme of the European Commission;
- Youth CAUSE—Network for Quality, Sustainability, Knowledge and Respect of the youth work in Bulgaria, funded by the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA FM) 2009-2014 (www.ngogrants.bg);
- Love & Hate2: Youth for online tolerance, implemented within the European Voluntary Service under the Youth in Action Programme of the European Commission.
Why we chose human rights
„Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.“Martin Luther King, human rights activist (1929—1968)
We care about the foreigner who came to Bulgaria in search of salvation from the war in his native country. We care about people who have no right to live and start a family with the love of their lives. We care about Christians, Muslims, Jews and everyone who has been the object of hatred.
We know that something depends on us!
We know that talking about human rights is at least as strong as the hatred of politicians, public circles and ordinary people for differences. We know that by our actions we not only educate but make each of you think about your words and behavior.
That’s why we defend human rights!
We defend human rights because we are convinced of the right of everyone to be born, grow up and live in a secure environment. We defend human rights because we believe that everyone has the right to choose their religion, values and views of how they should live their lives.
Join us because together we can achieve more. Distribute the materials and knowledge you gain on this website. We believe that together we can become better people.