In February 2023, after initial consultations and on-site work, expressive therapy through theatre was introduced for the UAM. An IOM (The International Organization for Migration) psychologist led the process, and, together with the NBU team, gave the UAM the opportunity to choose the topics. Due to the large number of participants, two groups were formed. One focused on the historical figure of the inventor Abbas ibn Firnas, while the other group explored the religious parable of Prophet Yusuf. The drama therapy sessions took place weekly and lasted between two and three hours. The UAM were encouraged to create their own props such as masks and costumes, and they enjoyed spending time together during the sessions. Several of the initial sessions were dedicated to sharing their dreams and expectations of their future destinations.

Impact and successes

The process resulted in a more enjoyable time for the UAM. They learned new crafting techniques and were invited as special guests by the NBU theatre troupe to a mini performance of a Bulgarian classic children’s novel, ‘Toshko Afrikanski’, where they experienced theatre for the first time. Watching the play inspired them and they were invited to participate in several theatrical exercises on stage, with support from the IOM psychologist. This introduced them to a new art form and allowed them to expand their horizons, encouraging them to express themselves.

Lessons, learning and recommendations

Various factors hindered efforts to assert control over the group dynamics. For instance, keeping the UAM engaged was challenging due to their different and competing interests. The process allowed for the freedom to attend or not, resulting in turnover and the need to restart the process multiple times. The implementation was highly dependent on several factors – country of origin, the ethnic diversity of the group, age differences, family background, and educational status. Many of the UAM have vague recollections of traditional stories learned in school, including the two selected for the drama therapy, due to ongoing wars back home.


  1. Hristova, M., Raykova, A. 2023. Unaccompanied Foreign Minors in Bulgaria: In the Limbo between the New and Old Homes. In: Maeva, M., Slavkova, M., Hristova, M. Between the Worlds of Old and New Homes. Vol. 5 of Between the worlds open-access e-collection. (forthcoming)