My name is Emiliyan Illiev Mitkov I am 20 years old, from Oryahovo, Bulgaria. When I was in 11th grade I started studying at the Center for Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnic Minorities (Center), which was a running project funded by REF. Along with the scholarship, I received extra tutorship in chemistry. The tutoring really helped me in preparing for my university entrance exams. After the financial and tutorial support I received I applied to study Medicine in Pleven and Plovdiv, and was accepted by the two universities. Dental Medicine was more attractive for me, so I decided to attend Dental School in Plovdiv.
I was raised by my father, whom I still currently live with. He is disabled and suffers from an eye disease called glaucoma. He graduated from a construction technical school and soonafter worked for many years at the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant. Once my father was diagnosed, he was required to undergo surgery. After a medical mistake, he lost his sight. This strongly motivated me to want to study medicine.
I have many difficulties in my life but I am happy to be able to overcome them with the help of programs like yours. Difficulties motivate me even more. I want to help Roma and all people who are in a vulnerable and in distressed situations. Somehow, the media mainly represents Roma in bad light. I want to show that we Roma integrate every day. I am very motivated by the Roma who graduated from medicine with your support. In some of them I see my way of life because I’m going through the same difficult paths to get to success. I am very angry when others say words like, “gypsy” and words like “thieves, early marriages, or crimes” appear in in their head when they think of Roma people. They do not think there can be people like me, or like them. Of course, among us there are people who tarnish us. But among us there are doctors, bankers, police, and so on. Normal people who lead an ordinary way of life and prove themselves in their society every single day more and more than others.
In our neighbourhood there is unity and respect among the people. Everyone is ready to help the other. While in other neighbourhoods, for example, the distance between people is greater. You can knock on everyone’s door to seek help – there are very strong connections inside the community. As a future doctor, I want to help everyone who is in need. I think my family and community upbringing have a huge role to play in building this sense of responsibility. Education is extremely important to me and my family. Many young people from my neighbourhood have graduated university or high schools, and they are already successful. I want society to see more value from my community because they are capable of influencing children and their parents.
For now I have ambitions only in the field of Dental Medicine. I think it would be very useful if my dental surgery is open to everyone – for a client who can afford a EUR 500 intervention and grandmother with a grandchild who can not afford my services. I take it as a debt– once they reach me, they need me. Human health is inviolable and should not have a price.
I try to help Roma students and students from my city or those I happened to get acquainted with – information, lectures, lessons, trainings, and so on. I encourage them to be themselves and to show what they are capable of. Because if you try and are motivated, then you will succeed and you will continue moving on. Goals need to be pursued and realized with heart and stubbornness.
– Emiliyan is an example of one of our secondary school beneficiaries who along with REF’s support, has successfully transitioned to tertiary education.