28 July 2017

How growing up in an SOS family inspired a young Bulgarian's interest in film-making

“I’m planning a lot of films at the moment – I have a lot of dreams”, says Monika Ivanova. Photographer: Tania Thorngreen

Monika Ivanova is a young aspiring film-maker living in Sofia, Bulgaria. Like every film-maker she wants to tell stories. In fact, she wants to tell a lot of them.

“I’m planning a lot of films at the moment – I have a lot of dreams”, she says.
 
“One of the reasons I decided to study film was that growing up in an SOS Village, there were always a lot of stories to tell around me”, she adds.
 
Encouraged by her SOS mother to pursue her passion and interests outside of the school curriculum, Monika was particularly drawn to film production.
 
Growing up with 14 SOS brothers and sisters, Monika always witnessed a lot of storytelling in her home, but also in her surroundings.  
 
“Suddenly, a new child arrives in the village and you get to know him. There was always something happening and it was always interesting to me”, she explains.  
 
Having a lot of people around her growing up marked her significantly. When she first left her SOS family, living alone was a difficult transition. Having been around many children throughout her life, suddenly being alone in a room felt unnatural, the silence was unfamiliar. Today, Monika says she has either music or a film playing in every room to ensure there is some form of background noise.

Monika’s future film project

Monika, 22, was part of a recent SOS Children’s Villages event in Innsbruck, Austria, where participants shared their stories and successful experiences. This event inspired her for a new project: a film about Hermann Gmeiner’s life.
 
“I want to produce a film that starts with Hermann Gmeiner’s life story before he has the idea and vision to establish SOS Children’s Villages. When he’s still a student, has a social life and then suddenly things change – both good things and bad things. I think that will be interesting”, she says.
 
For now, Monika will focus on finishing her degree. Next to her academic endeavours, Monika also runs her own photo studio in Sofia, working on photography projects, graphic design work and commercials.
 
With 14 brother and sisters, her SOS family life takes up quite some time too. “We try to all meet whenever we have something to celebrate. When we are all together [including the siblings’ own children] we always need a very big table”, says Monika.
 
At her next family reunion she plans to share her experience visiting Innsbruck and to share some of the stories she came to learn during her stay.
 

Learn more about how SOS Children's Villages supports education and training

Read more about how the Sustainable Development Goals can empower young people