Bulgaria faced similar economic conditions as the others: an economic crash, political turmoil, and decimating poverty. However, by 2000 few child "welfare" organizations had managed to make inroads in a country where the government largely wanted to shape their own policies and maintain large, government-run institutions. According to Nations in Transit: "Hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have emerged in the [formerly communist] region to address the problem of abandoned and homeless children. In some countries, such as Romania, there are over 60 NGO programs in the city of Bucharest focusing on this issue. In other countries where civil society is less prevalent, such as Bulgaria, there are fewer NGOs." The report goes on pressing for a decentralized system akin to the other countries.
As to the work in Bulgaria, the European Children's Trust was, in 1997, still in the lobbying phase of social reform. Per a RadioFree Europe article: "It will train Bulgarian orphanage staff so that improved care will help children who cannot return home in the foreseeable future. In the long term, the program will replace state orphanages with day-care centers, fostering services, outreach social-work programs, and parent group networks... the European Children's Trust is pressing the Sofia government to adopt legal reforms aimed at promoting family-based care."
From 1998-1999, Project Manager Glenn Gentry reports his work of the "management and reform of child protection programs in Plovdiv and Haskovo Municipalities, training and mentoring municipal social work managers and staff, technical support and capacity building with local NGOs and Municipal Social Work Departments, and reconstruction of a derelict day centre for children with learning disabilities."
In 2001, the UK and Japan offered Bulgaria a 5-year loan of 8.8 million euros contingent on serious reform of their child welfare and child protection sector. Such reforms were the same as all of the other countries: reduce institutionalization, allow NGOs to assist with local municipalities, relinquish oversight to localized rather than centralized authority figures, and "deepen bank partnerships with the EU, foreign and domestic foundations, private business and the NGO community." Spoiler alert: By 2009, just one out of nine Bulgarians felt they were better off as a result of the transition to capitalism. Just 16% said they felt the government was run for the benefit of the people.
Oh, and it wouldn't be the European Children's Trust (or any bloated foreign Trust) if it didn't involve a pathetic plea to "save the kids" to rake in the big bucks. Here they are appealing to British viewers using the same sensationalist language... and the exact same "freezing winter"-line: "The squalid state of Bulgaria's orphanages was highlighted by a BBC television team who filmed the conditions in these institutions last October. Two news documentaries were shown on British national television, prompting offers of cash and practical support... this crisis prevention program by the Christian Children's Fund and the European Children's Trust will aim at helping vulnerable children in the orphanages and their families to survive this winter." This netted the groups at least half a million pounds, even though the script likely came from some outsourced "charity advertising" group.
What happened in Albania is one of the most crucial pieces of this puzzle, and is discussed in greater detail in Part III. But one thing to know about Albania (and Kosovo) is that post-Communism, the appointed politicians were very corrupt.
In the 1970s and 80s, Albania was under a Communist rule with a Constitution that didn't permit trade with the outside world, nor foreign investing/financing. This didn't sit well with globalists who wanted in on the market, along with access to other valuable commodities available only in this country.
Cue the influx of radicalized Albanian Muslims ("ethnic Albanians," as they're technically called) arriving by boat from Italy. Per the Wikipedia article: "On 22 March 1992, the Communists were trumped by the Democratic National Party in national elections." From 1992-1996, there was supposed to be "reform" (ie, what I read as privatization) but that didn't happen. At least, not in the way that it was supposed to. While Albania did take foreign money, they promptly used that to screw over the people by creating elaborate ponzi schemes and then bankrupt the country. Now, rumor has it some of this money was being siphoned off to support a Kosovo militant group that was ideally going to help establish a separate Kosovo for ethnic Albanians. But with the country bankrupt and the people pissed off, the previous golden child, Berisha, had served his purpose and was slated to be given the boot.
As a side note, Berisha was a big fan of John Podesta and said of him, "Mr. Podesta [working as Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff, at the time] is a very very good man... I am very happy with him. He is a very serious partner. I work with (his group) with a great deal of confidence. We are thinking to work harder in public-private partnership in our country and we must invite expertise." A Stratfor email titled, "What the hell is going on in Albania" later elucidated that "Dude... Berisha was president before the 1997 anarchy. He is the Don of the Albanian mafia."
The problem was, he was the Don of a mafia in favor with the US, but not that of Europe. They had a different thug in mind. So... Cue Soros-funded media, and angry protests denouncing corruption, coupled with ethnic/Muslim Albanians from a different group. Berisha knew what was going on immediately, and recognized a coup was afoot..He blocked foreign volunteers, hosed protestors, etc. This manufactured group had all the same hallmarks of other uprisings: student protests, university "high level" discussions, claims of the government becoming fascists and stifling free speech, etc. Then Berisha was labeled by the media as someone who suppresses human rights (does all of this sound familiar?). According to his personal military advisor, "This is a rebellion of ordinary and political criminals who are trying to topple legitimate power. This is an armed insurgency against the government." His Albanian overseas financier living in Germany, Buyar Bukosi, was PISSED. He developed his own army, FARK, using millions in Albanian diaspora funds he'd been stashing in an effort to protect the ousting. It didn't work, though.
Berisha finally got ousted from power. "Democratically," of course. As if on cue, foreign banks between Italy, Greece, and the US were open for business: "In August 1997, the Albanian American Bank opens up for business in Albania and starts officially in August 1998. The following period is characterized by rapid developments in the Albanian banking system focused on acquisitions and privatizations." Cha-ching. 1997-1998 brought a game of musical chairs with the politicians until the "correct" one got picked and finally, Ilir Meta took the prized spot.
Now, lurking behind the scenes of all of this power play is the Albanian mafia. These are some of the biggest baddest guys on the block. They'd mostly been lurking in Italy or in-fighting within Albania, but by 97 the Albanian mafia became a unified front with the Kosovo Liberation Army (the non-Berisha faction, at least).
Regarding the work done by the European Children's Trust, the mayor of Albania appeared before Parliament and asked them to do work in three very specific places: Tirana (the capital), Shkoder (a small lakeside town), and Peshkopi (a tiny little nothing army town near the border). In Tirana and Shkoder, they did more foster care work, government networking, etc. After the 99 bombings, they did work in the refugee camps in Kosovo and Macedonia, bringing displaced people back into Albania.