Together On Board

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March 3, 1996 – I remember this day well. It was during the sailing regatta that we traditionally organize to commemorate our National Holiday.  Our group of sailors and divers gathered and a discussion started that there is no one to train the next generation of sea people.  We figured it would be great if we joined our efforts to preserve the sea traditions and good practices, so we decided to found a club.  A heated discussion about the club’s name occurred. The sailors wanted the name to include the word “sailing” and the divers, “diving”.  Then one of the old and wise sailors said: “Aren’t we all friends of the sea?”  That is how our Friends of the Sea Club was founded.  

We clean beaches, train divers, go to underwater archeology expeditions, organize underwater swimming contests, sailing regattas, first aid workshops and marine schools for children. 

In our numerous adventures on the Northern Black Sea Coast, we met young people who were looking at us with admiration and regret – they admired us for what we did but they could not afford expensive diving lessons.  So, one of the first projects our club did was training orphans and teenagers from poor families to get a qualification for diving and captain’s licenses.  The first ten teens who graduated in 2000 were from a local orphanage and they all found jobs in the navy.

Since then, the club has significantly expanded its social activities. We fundraise with businesses and donor programs but we also fund these activities through our work. The club allocates 20% of its revenues from paid workshops and initiatives to training disadvantaged teenagers. Our social enterprise is called Together On Board. In 2017, Together On Board won an award in the competition of BCNL for Best Social Business Plan and with the support of America for Bulgaria Foundation, we will keep giving a chance to many young people to find jobs.

Darina Ivanova, Friends of the Sea Club – Varna

 

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