Future Roma Medical Professionals Spark Interest in Dental Health for Children in Sofia

Aleksey Mitkov, a young man from the town of Lom, became an ambassador of kindness by campaigning for the benefits of oral hygiene, dental health, and tooth decay prevention among children from vulnerable groups in Sofia’s neighborhood of Fakulteta.  

Aleksey is a student at the Medical University of Sofia, where with a lot of hard work and dedication he studies Dentistry. In line with his future profession, he understands how important it is that information about children’s dental health be widely circulated, especially among the most vulnerable communities and people with a limited income. 

In Fakulteta, from a very early age, many children do not have access to a dentist. Adult awareness of dental check-ups is also limited. 
“The first time I visited the Fakulteta neighborhood, I saw that it looked like any other Roma neighborhood in that there was an internal division between wealthier and poorer inhabitants – you could tell by the houses. But there were also visible signs of integration. The good thing is that both young and older children came to the event, asked questions, and wanted to learn more,” says Alexey. 

Alexey is a participant in the Scholarship Support for Roma Students Enrolled in Medical Studies Program.

More than 160 year-long scholarships have been awarded since 2018 with the support of EEA/Norway. 58 of these scholarships were awarded during the 2021-2022 period. Since the program began, nearly 30 young people have successfully graduated and are now working as health professionals. The scholarship aims to help more young people to study health-related disciplines and then improve health awareness among disadvantaged communities. 

In October, young participants in the program participated in an event hosted by TSA’s partner, the HESED Foundation. This event brought together dozens of children and parents. While coloring thematic materials with the children, the students talked about proper ways to brush their teeth. This meeting also gave many mothers the opportunity to get tips on their children’s dental health.  
“Many of the families and children understood the reason behind the event. They are ready to live in an integrated society,” says one of the students.

Alexey, together with 10 other student participants, received the Ambassadorship Award in the Volunteer category of the 5th Annual Time Heroes Platform Awards. They were recognized for their initiatives in 2021 and 2022 when they carried out health campaigns in Roma communities.