He has been part of the RAISE Youth project since its beginning. When we met him, the young boy told us about his childhood dream of having his own apiary and making honey. Today, Vasilen is already the proud owner of 17 beehives and says that this is only the beginning.
He used to work for a local beekeeping company, then kept 1-2 hives, but gradually gave up because he never made any progress. And so until he discovers the new opportunity that the RAISE Youth project provides.
"Even at the beginning, when I found out about the initiative, I went to show my interest about the topic of agriculture, that's why I signed up to join the activities. Things worked out already in 2021, I already had production, sold honey and bought a few more bee colonies. This year I expect an even bigger profit," says Vasilen.
"Back in the day I had looked at beehives, but when the project started I didn't have any, and thanks to RAISE Youth I started doing what I love again."
The beekeeping course, which was organized by the Regional RAISE Youth Center, gave him a strong start.
"Beekeeping training helped me to improve myself. I keep in touch with the teacher and often call him to ask for his advice, and definitely every day in working with bees I apply the knowledge from both the theoretical and the practical part of the course", says Vasilen.
"I am extremely grateful that with the help of the youth center I was able to acquire more beehives, as well as tools for extracting and producing honey. I had no worries or doubts about joining the project. I received help through knowledge and, above all, support to take the first steps in developing my own business. For the creation and development of my hives, I used the 4 hives that were bought under the project.
He himself defines himself as a much different person after joining the youth initiative. He started working in a local factory, and in his spare time he takes care of the hives and 15 hens. He sells honey and eggs and also breeds guinea pigs.
In the last 5 years, Vasilen has been making efforts to be independent and work for himself. So little by little he starts to change. He was also encouraged by the RAISE Youth study visit to Croatia in the summer of 2021, when the leading partner GTF organized an individual experience exchange program for him - a visit to their young beekeeper.
“My way of thinking changed during my participation in the project. The initiative made me take what I like much more seriously. I learned for myself that I can do beekeeping, even if I had doubts. It was very difficult for me, the terrain was difficult - a steep, wet forest, but I did it. I have made a very big step in this aspect. I learned that if I have a will, I will always find a way. Willingness and persistence are the most important factors for success"!
Vasilen's Bee is now located in 2 different locations. In 2023 The 31-year-old beekeeper plans to have at least 30-40 hives, and wants to equip himself with more modern equipment. "In the future, I imagine myself as a successful young person," he says. He shares that there are also difficult moment, of course, but they are the ones that teach you valuable lessons - "Everyone promises and tells you that they will find hives and bee colonies, but you can't rely on everyone, that's why I work alone now."
According to him, one of the big problems of young people in Europe is the lack of motivation and the lack of right approach from the institutions and elderly people.
"I felt the same way as many other young people until I was also motivated within the project. The basis is important and the way things are presented must provoke the interest of young people. No one wants to make an effort, they want to receive, but if you want to achieve something, you have to invest time, energy, hard work.
Vasilen already knows that if young people have an idea, they must work to realize it. He would tell them that it might not work out right away, but step by step things are happening. "That's what happened to me too. I wasn't afraid of how I would do this - I'm learning and trying to assess the risks. Before you start doing something, you need knowledge! And to have the attitude that things will work out, not that something will go wrong!
The team of the Regional RAISE Youth Center sincerely thanks Vasilen for his efforts and his will on the way to success and wishes him many and even greater achievements!
The RAISE Youth project, implemented by the Center for Development of Sustainable Communities, covers over 500 young people aged between 18 and 29, living in the municipalities of Pernik, Breznik, Trun, Radomir, Zemen and Kovachevtsi, who are not currently involved. Within its framework, various trainings for career and personal development are passed, and the most active 20 participants will be provided with additional training and mentoring assistance to start their own business.
The RAISE Youth project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment.