A while ago I watched a programme called 'Bulgarias Abandoned Children'. It was a BBC documentary about a state run orphanage/care home in Bulgaria where children abandoned by their parents were placed. The programme affected me deeply. The childrens most basic needs were barely met and many were malnourished. They received no real care or love or attention. Many were just left in cots 24 hours a day. Some children were put on potties in the morning and left on them all day to prevent 'accidents'. They were often too weak to move by themselves. Health care was pretty non existant and the children faced being moved to adult institutions when (if) they reached 18.
Most of the children had developed a rocking motion which is apparently a psychological response to being deprived of stimulation and attention. It was heartbreaking. The children in the orphanage were put there for being blind or deaf or simply not wanted. The thing that sticks in my mind the most is the teenage girl below who quite obviously had a broken leg being forced to get dressed whilst screaming in agony. The staff being completely oblivious to her pain and suffering. No medical attention was sought for weeks after despite the film crew pointing out the obvious injury.
Teenage girls were often looked after by untrained male staff making them vulnerable to abuse and there was violence towards the children by the staff. I was horrified that this was happening in 2008 in a country that had just joined the European Union. Thankfully many other people were also outraged and joined the campaign to raise awareness about this issue which was as simple as contacting my MEP to complain about the treatment of the children. Thankfully much has changed since the documentary (this particular care home has closed) and many of the children are now receiving better care although there is still a long way to go.
The 'Baba' (Bulgarian for Granny) scheme I have chosen as my charity carefully matches local women with 2 children in these care homes to act as their primary carer and advocate. The Baba provides care and education to the children individually, for four hours each day, five days a week until the children are moved to new homes or are adopted. They feed, play, sing songs, hold and encourage their children and the little ones respond with tremendous developmental advances, better growth, and most importantly, by learning how to love and be loved. Its a fantastic idea. My mum is a lovely grandma to my children so I feel its a great charity to support in her name. So I have decided to donate £25 to the charity which will fund the training of a baba. Thanks everyone who has sent me things for my challenge as this donation is from all of you too!
To end on a happier note below is Vasky the child also pictured above. Looking much healthier and happier thankfully. You can find out more at http://www.tbact.org/
"Pictures courtesy of True Vision Productions".