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Bulgaria's Abandoned Children

Updated on January 15, 2011

In 2007 BBC Documentary Film Bulgaria's Abandoned Children!

This film caused an international outcry because the images of neglect were so shocking to witness in a country that had just become a member of the European Union.

Director Kate Blewett visited a children's care home in Bulgaria and investigated the conditions in which the children lived.

Following the end of the film, the production team offered the Bulgarian Embassy in London the chance to comment on the findings made in the course of filming the documentary.

I Made This Lens In Case You Missed Kate Blewett's Documentary On TV.

I thought it was extraordinary what Kate Blewett did but also heartbreaking to watch!

Kate Blewett takes us into the tragic world of the children's Social Care Home in Mogilino, Bulgaria. In Kate's Words. The Social Care Home - where 75 unwanted children were growing up - was the main employer in the small village of Mogilino. Few of the children can talk, not necessarily for the reason that they were incapable but rather because no one has ever taught them how. Kate got to see the children in this heartbreaking, silent world, such as Milan, the gentle giant who spends his days doing chores and watching over the others, and mildly autistic 18-year-old Didi, who was able to talk, and had plenty to say, but no one to speak to. The children that surround them suffer a variety of problems, many are blind or deaf and some were unable to leave their beds, many are plainly wasting away. Dumped into the hands of the staff at Mogilino these children inhabit a bleak heartless world, so devoid of normal everyday stimulus that many have taken to rocking slowly and constantly in their chairs just for something to do. Bulgaria has more institutionalised mentally and physically disabled children than anywhere else in Europe. The film is a heart-rending and eye-opening look into the life of one such institution. These Are The Children Dumped Into The Hands Of The Mean Staff At Mogilino.

These Are The Children Dumped Into The Hands Of The Mean Staff At Mogilino. - The Children Dumped At Mogilino

Abandoned Children Are The Most Vulnerable And Most Frequent Victims of Brutality, Sickness, Starvation And Death. In 2007 the original documentary is set in a small Bulgarian village in an institute called Mogilino, a place where 75 unwanted disabled children are growing up. The first part of the film shows the terrible damage done by inadequate care. The second part demonstrates the extraordinary transformation that can take place in young lives with good care. Over nine months Katehas followed the lives of some of the 75 mentally and physically disabled children of Mogilino Social Care Home.

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children - Part 1

This Has Been Vasky's Life For 14 Years, Day In And Day Out. Nothing Changes. - Mogilino 2007

Vasky is blind, and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was three-a condition many are labelled with there.

She was abandoned as child, as were over half of the children in that room.

For some, their only disability is their blindness.

Everything upsets me in this video, but what really afected me was the way Vasky was being fed, watch how fast that woman feeds - This Video May Upset You!

Milen Is One Of The Children In Mogilino. - Milen Had Been At Mogilino For 14 Years!

He doesn't speak, There was no education in Mogilino, but Milen fills his time by working for the staff. At least by helping out with the laundry, he gets outside, while the others remain confined within the building. Milen was also abandoned as a baby. His parents are both dead now, so his legal guardian is the institute director.

Didi Liked Living With Her Mum Before She Sent Her To Mogilino. - Didi

Unlike many who have suffered years of institutionalization, Didi had only recently arrived there.

Before this, she was living with her mother.

Didi is autistic, but was trying hard to adjust to her new environment.

Didi would write to her mother everyday. But never had a reply back. Didi's mother couldn't cope with her living at home, so she sent her to Mogilino. Her mother knew unless she sent her far away, Didi would find her way back home.

Hard To Understand How the Staff Can Walk Away Leaving Children Like That! - A third of these children are labelled as "bed-ridden". The staff simply left them

Bulgaria Children - Children Of Bulgaria

Children In Bulgaria

Abandoned Children

Abandoned Children
Abandoned Children

Vaski Is One Of The Abandoned Children

Two Months Later, Kate Arrives Unannounced, Shortly After Dawn. - Didi's dorm was just waking up.

Whilst all the other girls were naked, Didi chooses to be dressed. She managed to hang on to a small purple handbag, where she keeps a few precious things. No-one else has any possessions. Most of the carers in the institute are women, yet this group of naked adolescent girls were being supervised by a man. A second man was showering the girls. Surely there were enough women there for naked girls to be helped by a female carer. All clothes were communal. They were numbered to identify which room they belong to.

Didi's Dorm

Didi's Dorm
Didi's Dorm

Didi Was Getting Worse

Didi Was Getting Worse
Didi Was Getting Worse

Abandoned Children Like Didi Suffer All Over The World

Abandoned Children Like Didi Suffer All Over The World
Abandoned Children Like Didi Suffer All Over The World

Kate Looking At Milen's Pictures! - For an instant he was pleased to get someone's attention, somebody actually talking and smiling with him.

Social Care Home in Mogilino

Social Care Home in Mogilino
Social Care Home in Mogilino

Vasky

Vasky
Vasky

Milen Was Wary Of The Carer - Milen and his friend Misho were ordered to collect up the toys an put them on the boys beds. But they both seemed on edge.

The treatment these children received is beyond inhumane and heart wrenching in every sense of the word. - This documentary was particularly hard for me to watc

Didi Still Had Hope And Never Gave Up Sending Letters To Her Mum

Didi Still Had Hope And Never Gave Up Sending Letters To Her Mum
Didi Still Had Hope And Never Gave Up Sending Letters To Her Mum

Vasky Was Still Suffering So Much

Vasky Was Still Suffering So Much
Vasky Was Still Suffering So Much

Kate Confronts The Director On her last day at Mogilino, and the director had finally agreed to talk to Kate on camera. - Kate asked the director: When she look

After The Original Film Was Broadcast, The Government Said Mogilino Was An Exception. - The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, witch has been investigating homes for

Under intense pressure from the media and the public, the government asked UNICEF to help the children of Mogilino. This led to medical assessments of every child, with some being hospitalized, suffering from severe malnutrition and neglect.

Kate Went Back Once Again! - o See How Didi,Vasky, Misho And Milen Were Getting Along.

The last time Kate was with Didi, she was lost in an isolated world of rocking.

Today she shares a bedroom with her best friend Fidanka.

They are in a specialist adult boarding school for young people with educational problems.

Didi's mother contacted the director when Didi first arrived there a year ago.

That was the last the director heard from her.

At school, Didi was learning one of her favorite subjects.

All the students stay there for 3 years to learn social and life skills to help prepare them for the outside world.

Some will graduate into jobs and live independently.

Others like Didi who need more help will move into smaller homes with resident carers. After a year there, Didi was fitting in well.

It was a different story when she first arrived and Fidanka was on the receiving end.

Fidanka said she use to be wild and didn't get on with anyone, she would seat alone all the time.

Until Fidanka found out she like glossy magazines after that they just became very close friends.

Didi lives now a happier life.

Was Lovely To See Didi Happy

Was Lovely To See Didi Happy
Was Lovely To See Didi Happy

Was Time To Visit Vasky! - What A Big Transformation. Kate Said She Was Unrecognisable.

Vasky is in a home for the blind, around 100 miles from Mogilino. The last time Kate had seen her she was in a pitiful condition. This time she looked happy and smiling, she had put on weight and was doing physiotherapy for her legs. She was mixing with people that talk to her and care for her.

Singing and cheerful, looking blissful. Like Didi, Vasky's mother also abandoned her to a life in institutes. Recently, Vasky's mother went to the local government and asked if her daughter could be moved closer to where she lived so she could visit her.

Later this year, Vasky will be moving into a smaller group home, and the hope is, her mother will visit.

Was Time To Visit Milen! - He Looked Pleased And Amazed To See Kate!

This was the first time Kate had seen Milen since his abuse.

Milen is keen to go inside as he has something to show Kate.

There are six other young people of mixed abilities living there. Milen and Misho went there after the abuse in Mogilino.

The difference there is that they have trained carers and are treated with respect. Everyone helps with daily household tasks. And Milen and Misho remain inseparable.

Was A Picture Of Him And Misho At The Beach, And His Awards For Fishing.

Was A Picture Of Him And Misho At The Beach, And His Awards For Fishing.
Was A Picture Of Him And Misho At The Beach, And His Awards For Fishing.

Misho Is Never Far Away From Milen. He Was Also Pleased To See Kate.

Misho Is Never Far Away From Milen. He Was Also Pleased To See Kate.
Misho Is Never Far Away From Milen. He Was Also Pleased To See Kate.

Misho Was Happy There Too

Misho Was Happy There Too
Misho Was Happy There Too

Millen And Misho

When they first went there, they were very withdrawn and the staff found scars on their heads and bodies. Milen has watched the film over and over again. And with his carer, he likes to point out his Mogilino friends, and his abuser. Milen and Misho will live in this small group home for the rest of their lives.

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children's Trust Was Formed! - After the initial broadcast on the BBC, the European foreign ministers and ambassadors visited Mogilino, and

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children's Trust was funded entirely by donations from viewers. The trust sends specialists to help the children and to give staff training. What became immediately obvious was that once children receive proper care and attention, their lives are transformed. Without the public's response to the film, Didi might well still be warehoused in Mogilino, slowly becoming hopelessly institutionalized. There has never been a proper system for placing these unwanted children. It has always been a bit of a lottery. A child was sent where there was space, regardless of the disability. Today with the right support Didi is thriving.

Milen has a job now, he's proud of what he does and it gives him, Micho and their house mates a real sense of purpose - They surely must not be abandoned again.

They get paid according to the quantity they produce. And last year their work bought them all a bonus of a holiday together. Like Didi, Vasky, Milen and Misho, 48 of Mogilinos's 73 inmates have been moved to better homes. 25 Children were still in Mogilino when Kate left, but the care they received had greatly improved. But there are still enormous challenges ahead for the Bulgarian Government. Many more smaller, family-style homes need to be created for the 8,000 children still remaining in large institutes across the country. Bulgaria is one of the newest and poorest members of the European family, and the time has come for a united European rescue of these condemned children.

Thank You To Everyone That Helped Saving These Children. Thank You Kate Blewett! - Without Your Hard Work All That Pain Would Still Go On! Well Done!

Documentary created for the BBC Camera-Sean Lewis Researcher/ Interpreter-Maria Sharkova Location Fixer-Stefan Sharkov Production Co-Ordinator-Ruth McCarthy Edit Assistants-Tash Despa/Paddy Garrick Film Editor-Sean Lewis Music Composed & Performed by scrt-Steve Cooke & Russell Taylor Vocals-Harry Cooke Executive Producer for BBC Emma Willis Executive Producer-Brian Woods Produced and Directed by Kate Blewett.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Kate Blewett recently returned to Bulgaria to see how things have changed after the international outcry in response to her film Bulgaria's Abandoned Children. Extraordinary impact To witness such human deterioration and to know the only way to truly effect change was to carry on filming and bring the documentary film to a wider audience - was an incredibly difficult process. However the impact of Kate's film had has been extraordinary. Viewers wrote to her by the thousands, donating money, and forming petitions demanding change from their MPs and MEPs. Some gave up their jobs and went to Bulgaria to help, taking supplies, food, clothing and medical aid.

New lives for Bulgaria's abandoned children - Thank You For Reading Please Leave A Comment!

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    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Thanks for sharing I can see how this affected you as I sure it affects most people. Unfortunately, I have seen the complacent attitude of caregiving staff in many facilities I have visited. It is not uncommon for people in that position to take on this attitude as a survival instinct so as not to be affected by the poor treatment and accommodation provided for in many of these facilities.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      hello, I hope i can reach Kate Blewett or someone that has the information on how to make donations or possibly send something to these places to help the progress continue. And i was also hoping to know how Stowen i believe was the name of the little blind boy that would just stand there like a statue...i was hoping to hear his whereabouts. Hoping and praying that all of these kids and those that we were not able to see are doing well...BETTER!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hello, I am a norwegian woman. I just wathed the documentary on TV and I was just shocked and felt physically sick when I realised how these children are treated.

      It is so nice to see that a few have a better life now, but I can't help thinking about all those poor children who suffer everywhere around Bulgaria.

      Is there any updated news?

      I have so much trouble understanding the government of the country. How is it possible to let this happen???? Though poor, a country CAN NOT let this happen. It is beyond my wildest imagination.

    • profile image

      KatBar 6 years ago

      That is so sad how people can treat these children.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      I watched that documentary in horror and tears. Thank you for bringing this to light again and with such strong presentation and passion. It is now *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      How good to see the children and young people received so much better treatment after Kate's documentary. Thanks for making this lens.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Wow that is an amazing story. Thanks to courage the circumstances of so many were changed. If only each person could make that difference to another's life.

    • profile image

      zingaraluna 6 years ago

      Very sad. Já vi isto na TV e o meu coração encolheu de tanta tristeza! Muito bem feito mana!