According to popular definition, the ghetto is an isolated and neglected territory in which the norms of civilized life do not apply and are instead sidetracked by poverty, violence and lawlessness. Its most important characteristic is that time is seemingly standing still – a lack of any sort of prospect for the future.
The modern man organizes his life with long-term perspective in mind, and the longer it is, the more socially, economically and culturally successful he is. Successful people with high social status plan their lives years ahead, committing to the future of the community and strive to change the world for the better. The middle class also has a big impact on this process – as a rule, they strategically invest in the education of future generations.
The ghetto is primarily a place where people live from day to day and have difficulty running their own lives because they have accepted that nothing depends on them. It forms the culture of the ghetto – a combination of the ignorant, reckless, desperate and indulgent living, with no consideration for the past or the future. Once formed, the culture of the ghetto has the ability to replicate like a virus that infects the minds of its victims and impairs their social identity.
Anti Ghetto – The Project is an initiative by a group of people with different professional and social identities – university professors, researchers, artists, social and healthcare professionals, public figures and entrepreneurs.
What unites us is the concern for the growing ghettoization of many communities in Bulgaria and the conviction that the abolition of slums – and the overcoming of their detrimental effects on human development – is a responsability not only of the state, but also of the entire society.
The aim of this initiative is to unlock the long process of social change, whose ultimate goal is the end of the humiliating practice of living in poverty and the resulting culture of the ghetto, which generates and maintains problematic values.
Our view is that the ghetto has physical, social and psychological aspects. Research shows that all well-intentioned attempts to eliminate the ghetto by building new infrastructure fail because they do not manage to change the ghetto at its core – the way victims of poverty experience and comprehend the world and their place in it and thus unintentionally maintain the culture of the ghetto.
Our initiative aims to explore, describe, understand and attack the ghetto at its core by transforming education and creating a supportive environment. This education arms young people born and raised in ghettoized communities with the knowledge and life skills of the civil community, taking into account changes, sustainable assumptions, attitudes and values formed by the culture of the ghetto that fail the possibility of successful integration.
Transformative education respects the ethnic and cultural identity of students, but is committed to changing their social identity. It achieves this by providing them with opportunities to develop an alternative to life in the ghetto, and support them to take informed steps towards change in the early stages of their lives. Successful transformative education allows young people to leave the ghetto mentality of living from day to day and develop an orientation towards the future. It helps them leave the identity of victims of circumstance, reclaim control over their life choices and allows them to take authorship of life in an ethical manner.
In our initiative the central role of education is complemented by working towards improving health in all its forms. Healthy people (both young and adults) live happier, adapt better and have more success than others.
The partnerships we build in the Anti Ghetto Project exclude conditions for the creation of potential or actual conflict of interest and provide clear paths to follow our work. In these partnerships, we see an opportunity to positively influence everyone’s development.