Postbank and Mastercard® Renovated the Site Above the Dragalevtsi Monastery on Vitosha

Postbank and Mastercard® improved the area above the Dragalevtsi Monastery, located on the territory of the Vitosha Nature Park, which resulted in the renovation of the existing alley for access of people with disabilities and the sports and recreation areas, and the youngest visitors of the mountain can now enjoy a completely new children’s playground. The event is a continuation of the project “Green Stories in the Open Air” and for the third year, it is realized with the support of experts from the Vitosha Nature Park Directorate. With the socially responsible initiative which carries the message “Rediscover the Mountain Together with Children”, the companies aim to make the mountain a natural, accessible and even more inspiring place for adventures for the young and old.

This year’s project was tied to another important cause – support for beekeepers in our country and the protection of bees. Over 130 volunteers joined the initiative, participated in the finishing activities on the ground and became beekeepers for a day. Together, they assembled, painted and decorated 10 hives, which were later given to the beekeepers of the Real Honey network.

“Sustainable development, nature-oriented living and socially responsible behavior are part of Postbank’s corporate culture, important values for us and a personal mission for each of our employees. We are delighted that this year, thanks to the hard work and dedication of volunteers from both teams, we have once again managed to improve another key area for visitors to the mountain within the Vitosha Nature Park. This year’s edition of the project carried out in partnership with Mastercard® and the Vitosha Nature Park Directorate, combined the green idea with the cause of Bulgarian beekeepers, which deserves visibility and empathy. Fostering a greener self-awareness and lifestyle remains a priority in our multi-faceted CSR policy, and our green stories in the open air will continue in the future to make the mountain a beloved place for well-deserved relaxation, great discoveries and sweet games,” Postbank said.

Volunteers from the two companies, together with their children and representatives of the Vitosha Nature Park Directorate, participated in all the finishing works on site. They were involved in the varnishing and renovation of the existing alley for access of people with disabilities, where educational boards were installed with a special part made with the Braille alphabet, and curious information about the centuries-old trees, some of which can be seen in the area. A board with information about the Dragalevtsi Monastery “Assumption of the Virgin Mary”, located next to the park, was also placed on the alley. The staff also took an active part in the renovation of the sports facilities and recreation areas on the site, varnished and refreshed all the “Vitosha-type” alcoves and tables, and installed a number of game boards and mazes for the little ones, including useful information about melliferous plants and bees.

In recent years, an alarming trend has been noticed in the beekeeping sector in Bulgaria. Over 30% of beekeepers cease their activities due to the serious challenges they face – an increase in bee diseases, reduced income due to low honey prices, and insufficient support for training and innovation in the sector. This negative trend has cascading consequences. As the number of beekeepers decreases, so does the number of bee colonies. This can lead to poorer harvests and even loss of biodiversity. Therefore, with this year’s edition of the project “Green Stories in the Open Air”, Postbank and Mastercard® stand behind the cause of the Real Honey platform and give their contribution and support to beekeeping in the country, thus supporting one of the most important inhabitants of the Earth – bees.

“The opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the environment where people of Sofia spend their holidays is invaluable for Mastercard. We are proud that, together with the Postbank team, we, the big ones, for another year invest funds and volunteer work in the name of the smallest – the children, and from this year – also for the bees.”

Vanya Manova, Country Manager Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo at Mastercard.

During the event, beekeepers from the True Honey network gave an interesting open-air lecture in which they talked about their inspiration in the profession and the challenges they face and also shared curious facts about bees and gave tips for their proper care. A little later, under the mentorship and with the help of the professional beekeepers, volunteers took part in the activities of assembling, painting and decorating a number of hives, which after the event were given to Bulgarian honey producers. Volunteers were divided into teams of 7-8 people and during the event, they had to assemble and decorate their hives, consisting of a bottom, a hive body, and a lid. Assembling a hive requires not only the necessary knowledge but also the ability to work in a team, which participants did very well. Many children took part in the activity and, besides contributing with their creative skills, enriched their knowledge about bees and their important role in nature, and shortly afterwards took part in a number of games that were specially prepared for them by the experts of Vitosha Park.

“This year again, the good partnership between the Vitosha Nature Park Directorate, Postbank and Mastercard® continues. We are happy to create with joint efforts corners for the youngest friends of the mountain and for people with special needs. This project was realized with the blessing of the abbess of the Dragalevtsi Monastery “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” – a holy place with a centuries-old history that sheltered the national hero, the Apostle of Freedom Vasil Levski, during the difficult years of the struggle against the Ottoman enslavers. We thank both companies for their trust in us. I wish everyone dedication and inspiration on the way to protecting Bulgarian nature,” added Dr. Eng. Anna Petrakieva, Director of Vitosha Nature Park.

By the end of the event, the employees, together with their children, had the opportunity to participate in various educational activities, games, and a specially prepared eco-quiz with prizes. Simona Stilianova from Zero Waste Sofia told everyone interesting facts about the path of plastic, how to recycle properly and how to apply the 5 principles of zero waste in their daily lives, not forgetting to give them tips for conscious and responsible shopping with the aim of a more ecological way of life.

The project “Green Stories in the Open Air” is part of Postbank’s active socially responsible policy. It builds on the series of green projects that the financial institution implemented together with the Vitosha Nature Park Directorate over the past few years, as part of the internal program “Green together with Postbank”. Building green self-awareness is part of the bank’s corporate policy, and the aim of these projects is not only to improve the environment but also to motivate as many people as possible to take conscious actions to protect nature. The initiative started in 2019 when volunteers from the bank completely transformed a forest path in the Golden Bridges area of Vitosha. The second edition of the project took place in 2020, and recreation areas with interesting information about the plants and animals in this area were also designated. Over the past 2 years, together with Mastercard, the financial institution has also built the first “Green Classroom” in the area of the Bear Museum, which is a creative space for learning and entertainment, with numerous spaces for recreation and interactive and educational games.

You can see more about the “Green Stories in the Open Air” initiative here, as well as more photos from the event.