The Firefly Effect: Lovech Celebrates a Milestone in Community-Driven Pediatric Care

Medical staff and guests at the opening of the Firefly children’s ward in Lovech, April 11, 2024

Fireflies are a source of hope in the northern Bulgarian town of Lovech. They remind residents that the joys of summer lie just around the corner.

Starting this April, another kind of Firefly will be bringing hope to Lovech residents as well. With help from the America for Bulgaria Foundation and private donors, the children’s ward at the local hospital was refurbished and acquired new medical equipment. Officially opened on April 11, the remodeled ward will now be called Firefly, in a nod to locals’ favorite harbinger of summer.

Firefly is also the name that Za Dobroto Foundation has given its longstanding effort to upgrade the physical environment in children’s hospitals and improve pediatric care in Bulgaria. A group of seven dedicated women working together since 2019, Za Dobroto (“For the Good”) has refurbished seven children’s wards around the country to date.

The women’s untiring work and the backing of hundreds of corporate and individual donors have converted the wards into nurturing spaces for young patients and their caregivers while also securing safer working conditions for hospital staff.

In 2023, Za Dobroto joined forces with ABF to extend the reach of Firefly. The Foundation’s financial support, coupled with its experience revitalizing Pirogov Children’s Hospital, will guarantee that an enriching, healing atmosphere is accessible to a greater number of children in Bulgaria. Two children’s hospitals have been refurbished as a result of this partnership, in Lovech and in Veliko Tarnovo, which opened in February, with a third one — the children’s ward in the Dobrich hospital — on its way.

Photography: Vanya Karadjova

Firefly children’s ward in Lovech was refurbished by Za Dobroto Foundation with help from the America for Bulgaria Foundation and private donors.


First impressions matter, and a welcoming entryway puts patients and their families at ease.


The Firefly ward’s new waiting area


The refurbished ward has a play area for young patients.


Medical staff and guests pose in the refurbished ward’s play area. April 11, 2024


Nadejda Rangelova (left), chairwoman of Za Dobroto Foundation, and Dr. Dobrina Stoycheva (middle), director of the children’s ward in the Lovech hospital. Dr. Stoycheva and her team saw the transformative potential of the Firefly project and proactively sought to change the ward under their care. Dr. Stoycheva has worked in the Lovech hospital since 1980 and has been in charge of the pediatric ward since 2014.


ABF President Nancy Schiller at the opening of Firefly in Lovech


Aksiber, a longtime patient of Dr. Stoycheva’s, said that the care he received from the team inspired him to pursue a medical career one day.


A patient room in the refurbished ward


Dr. Snezana Nena Osorio (second from left), a sought-after New York City pediatrician and professor of clinical pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine, attended the opening of Firefly in Lovech in April. Here: Dr. Osorio with part of the Za Dobroto team


A bright, welcoming environment facilitates recovery.


Ms. Schiller and Dr. Osorio speak to a patient and his mother.


Even grownups enjoy the revamped surroundings. Chef Brothers, who supported the ward’s refurbishment, traveled all the way from Varna for the ward opening.


Before and after — the ward’s remodeled hallway


The refurbishment took a year to complete. Here: Za Dobroto member Vanya Karadjova decorating a patient room in Lovech


The renovations are in full swing.


Need a hand with anything?


Before: The large windows between patient rooms did not allow for any privacy, and seeing manipulations performed in the other rooms really upset young patients. After: The remodeled rooms are private, comfortable, and fully equipped to promote a swifter recovery.


A donors plaque honors all the individuals and organizations that helped make the ward’s transformation possible.

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