Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Care.


After meeting Tom last night and hearing his stories from the Russian orphanage that he's visited for his thesis, we decided to watch a documentary that Ben saw in 2008. This documentary was filmed in Bulgaria, not Russia, and documents the life of children who were kept in the Mogilino orphanage.

It showed the horrendous conditions that the children were kept in and it was extremely difficult to watch these children rock back and forth because they were given literally no stimulation whatsoever (animals can do similar things in captivity). They were also given no attention from the care staff so many existed in their own worlds with absolutely no interaction with anyone else. It seemed so horrendous because many of the 'disabilities' these children have were totally manageable if they lived in the UK, children with Down's Syndrome and Cystic Fibrosis were just left to decline. Several children were 'bed-ridden', and would lie in their beds with bent joints for their entire lives. Their health (both mental and physical) deteriorated significantly in the orphanage, so much so that several children died a year. We were stunned to see conditions so bad that children looked like they had just emerged from a concentration camp. 

We saw a young girl called Didi whose 'disability' was mild-autism. She was abandoned by her mother at the orphanage but thought her mother was coming for her. The worst thing about Didi's situation is that due to her imprisonment in the orphanage she became progressively more and more mentally ill. At first she read magazines, then due to boredom she started to rock back and forth and the staff spoke of genuine fears that she will become insane due to her imprisonment. Can you imagine how different her life would have been in the UK? 

After the documentary was shown in 2008 a campaign for its closure began, it was finally closed and the children dispersed in 2009.

It also made us think of the story of Janusz Korzack, the head of the orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto who provided an oasis of love and care in the complete carnage of the Holocaust. Rather than abandon the children in the hour of need, Janusz decided to travel with the children to Treblinka death camp. This story is love.

It seemed just so awful that vulnerable children were treated like this, Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and it was disgusting that it took place within the EU. It would be equally disgusting anywhere but it proved that the standards that the EU sets for its member states are clearly being ignored. It also showed again to us how important it is to show kindness and compassion to others. These children (and we are sure thousands more like them) were denied the basic right of love. They were treated like domestic pets and were ignored throughout the day. Although this situation in Mogilino was resolved, there still exists hundred of places like this across the world. We have talked about the responsibility that we have to stamp out prejudice, that we have to stand up for our fellow man, well that extends to situations like these too. Please take the time to watch the documentary (it is long, but definitely worth it), make sure you are not living in ignorance. If knowledge about certain situations is presented to you, then take it. The children of Mogilino were imprisoned in an uncaring, cruel world and they were abandoned. Let's make sure that other children are not left to rot in a similar way.

Please watch this, knowledge is power and our responsibility to help each other extends to these children too:

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