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THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN

The Forgotten Children
Update each month on Current Situation

Article Updates

16th November 2007  5th December 2007

22 January 2008   27 February 2008

19 April 2008  23 April 2008

June 2008


16 November 2007

By Lorraine Evans

What the hell and this is hell, is going on in the 21st Century?

Tears streaming down my face as I watched in horror the news unfold last night and seen the most despicable torture scenes of disabled babies, children and adults being abused and neglected.

All the fat cats, all the power crazy people, all the big industrial and trade giants they stand back and can see this going on, and what did I hear the so called Serbian Government say and I quote ?it will take years to sort out?, my reply would have been, Where is the compassion in your heart, it does not and should not take years to put this misery right, for pities sake some of them have been sleeping in a cot for 10 years, unthinkable. He also mentioned there are thousands, ok how many thousands shall we say the larger number to put into context what is the highest we can go lets say 999,000 add one more makes a million right? Serbia is not talking or the journalists who visited these places in millions but thousands, I do not accept it takes years to put right, the governments and the UN can and should put this situation right immediately.

Do we have billions of businesses, yes, do we have billions living on the planet, yes, do we have wealthy governments, yes, so why for goodness sake and for pities sake are these poor souls suffering like they are. Disfigured from sleeping in a cot for years and years never been out of it, what the heck is going on here? Does mankind like to watch suffering? I for one would definitely say No. For the ones that can see, can hear, have a voice, lets band together and get this situation put right immediately.

I and many others can not sleep thinking about those poor souls suffering and living in such appalling conditions. Just a cot and filthy bare walls, I cannot put into words the depth of my feelings the pain and hurt on seeing on a mass scale these poor souls suffer like this, it is too much to bear.

We are entitled to free speech so why not speak up, this is getting absolutely ridiculous, I am not working today in protest and decided to write this small article in the hope many others feel the same about this awful and disgusting situation. The pain those poor souls are going through, it is torture, neglect and abuse on a huge scale, some one must be taken and accounted for to allow this to go on. For pities sake this is the 21st century not the dark ages.

Whilst you wash and eat remember these are a couple of the simple things in life, they don?t even have that, I am so angry and devastated at what I witnessed I feel sure we can do something about this immediately and not wait flipping years, for goodness sake, in the name of Jesus and our Glorious Creator and Universe please help these poor souls and bring some compassion to your heart, especially the ones that can make all the difference, I am talking about the persons who are in a position to help out there. As for me I am an average person, living an average life, disabled and love life, for pities sake I beg you help them now. I am more than willing to give my time and support in any which way I can to get immediate help for these poor bearly living souls.

Shame on you all in Serbia for allowing this to go on in your Country, do something about it, you can if you want to, don?t let your people suffer like this. Even as I type I cannot bearly see with the tears streaming down my face, the only help I can offer is get the word out on the internet for all to see this evil and to show you what is happening right now, this very second.

If everyone does a positive collective thought, send your prayers to these poor souls, and do not blame our glorious creator for this happening, our prayers will be answered. It is MAN who is doing this to his fellow MAN.

You can help by sending your prayers to God through his beautiful son Jesus and holy spirit,

The ones that can help with aid, do it, help them, drop everything and go immediately.

If we all send our prayers and pure light the situation will prevail and these poor souls will not have to suffer such horrendous torture, abuse and filthy conditions now or in the future.

I am sick to the stomach of seeing scenes where so called mankind allows this to go on in the 21st century.

This is the link to the latest news.. This is a very disturbing report

Be prepared to see some disgusting sights, this is mankind at its ugliest, mankind now there is a word, where is the kind, come on EVERYONE pull out the stops and get over there and give them help, especially the ones who can.



Heart-wrenching Serbian Crisis



Bulgaria's Abandoned Children
Shown on Sunday Night 19 November 2007 BBC2


Please click on this link to see
the 5 Part showing on Youtube

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE IS SEEN ON THE BOTTOM ON THIS PAGE
The campaign for Bulgarias Abandoned Children
How you can help


Sign the Petition  Petition for Children Dying

Abandoned Children Organization
The Campaign for BULGARIA'S ABANDONED CHILDREN, DONATIONS Bulgarias Abandoned Children
Mental Disability Rights International

News Reports from around the world
Human Rights Group Report Alleges Systematic Abuse of Mentally Disabled Children in Serbia

Report Alleges Child Abuse in Serbia - pictures

News vine, Serbia Pledges Action on Disabled

I am sending these poor souls my prayers today and always with pure light to help them.
You can too.
Peace, Love and Compassion to all around the world
Lorraine

5 December 2007
UPDATE ON PRESENT SITUATION HAS BEEN ADDED TODAY 5 DECEMBER 2007

Many, many thanks to all of you who have registered as supporters of our campaign. We have had a fantastic response and it has taken us some time to respond to the huge number of emails we have received. Please find below a summary of the latest news:

Following the controversy that ?Bulgaria?s Abandoned Children' has stirred in the UK and Bulgaria, direct action has been taken to improve the immediate care of the children at Mogilino to ensure that they receive improved standards of nutrition, exercise and therapy.

An alliance of key organisations has been formed to put in place the immediate recovery plan whilst long-term care options are resolved for the children. Unicef is leading this alliance and we are supporting their efforts.

The first stages of the plan have been undertaken. Each child at Mogilino has been assessed so that individual rehabilitation programmes can be put into place to ensure they have the suitable levels of therapy and care that they need. These programmes are starting to be implemented and speech therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists are starting to work with the children. More therapists will be needed in future months.

The children?s diet, which was an area of great concern to so many of us, is now being greatly improved. A paediatrician assessed the children in early November and judged one third of them to be malnourished and dehydrated and as a result some of the children were hospitalised. Nutritional supplements continue to be given to the children and the new local major is providing an additional 4,000 lev to the food budget. Some local companies have also made food donations. Menu plans have been developed and it is now felt the children are receiving enough food including fresh fruit and their general diet has improved.

The kitchen and hygiene standards at the Institute were considered unsatisfactory and local health services have been called in to improve this.

The Director of the Institute resigned in mid November.

The management of the specialist care work at the institute is being handled by two Unicef representatives.

The care staff are still in place and are receiving supervision.

The new Mayor has arranged for a house in the village to be available for the Unicef team to live in whilst they carry out their work at Mogilino.

Some specific information about the children

Didi is still at Mogilino and is not showing any signs of improvement yet. However a team of Bulgarian lawyers have taken on her case to argue that Didi has been arbitrarily detained. This is critical to any long term plans for her.

Stoyan was hospitalised and has had an operation to help him to digest and absorb his food.

Vasky was also hospitalised. She has now been discharged and is back at Mogilino. Her rehabilitation programme has begun.

Milen is at the Protected Home he was sent to after the abuse he suffered at Mogilino and is doing really, really well.

We will continue to monitor the situation at Mogilino and report to all our supporters on a regular basis.

We continue to campaign for political pressure and can announce today there will be a meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels in the New Year.

A number of MEPs have been firing in Parliamentary Questions about the subject since the documentary was first aired on the BBC and many constituent letters have been generated by the film.

In the light of that Kate Blewett has been invited to show the film in the European Parliament, before which there will be a hearing on the whole area of the state of care in the Bulgarian mental health sector. This meeting will be taking place on the afternoon of the 4th March 2008.

Kind regards and thank you again for your support

The campaign team for

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children


22 January 2008
Bulgaria's Abandoned Children - News Update

Dear Supporter,

A great deal has been going on behind the scenes at Bulgaria's Abandoned Trust and we want to share all our news with you.

We must say firstly, thank you all so very much for your donations, your support and your commitment to the children in Mogilino. We continue to be encouraged and moved by the kindness and generosity of our supporters. The letters that you have written to MPs and MEPs are really creating a noise and add to the pressure for change within the unacceptable system in Bulgaria. We have received many emails from politicians expressing a desire to help ? this is a direct result of your letters.

Many thousands of pounds have been donated by individuals after viewing the film and so far we have raised a fund of over 120,000.

The year ended on a really high note with our small charity winning 10,000 in the Daily Mail ''Best Charities'' competition. Thank you to all of you who took the time to vote.

Another significant addition to our fund came from Grazia magazine and their readers. Grazia magazine ran a six page feature abut Mogilino, raising awareness and over 15,000. Grazia has since done a follow up piece on the latest developments at the home as well as thanking its viewers for their donations.

In early December we were able to purchase a mini bus for Mogilino - to take the children out and about - to hospitals, to specialists and to other destinations and to bring the specialist staff in to work with the children at the institute.

We used this opportunity to drop off Christmas presents for the children too - Didi was particularly thrilled to have new things to do (see the photos on the website) whilst some of the others ate their activities! The presents remain at the institute for the children to play with and enjoy each day.

Our plans this year are to spend the money we have received directly on helping the children - in a number of different ways:

At present UNICEF and the NGO Alliance are assessing every child at Mogilino and are due to have those assessments completed by June this year. In the meantime specialists are working with the children to help rehabilitate them while their long term care is being considered.

We support the work UNICEF and the other members of the NGO Alliance are undertaking and we will commit some of our funds to support this work where appropriate. For example we have agreed to pay for some of the specialist care team working at Mogilino including a full time doctor, a nurse, a special needs teacher and an art therapist as well as a speech therapist, psychologist, occupational therapist and social worker on a part time basis.

When we are asked to financially support their work we will only do so once we have evaluated all the details of the proposed funding. We will receive feedback from UNICEF and the NGO Alliance - which we will put up on the website so that our donors can see where their money is going.

In addition to the work already being done at Mogilino we have involved a wonderful organisation called Frontline and their work will begin there this week. Frontline provide occupational therapy and training for children and staff alike and they have many years experience of working in Bulgaria. They will be looking at the individual assessments of the children and ensuring they get the help they need. For more information on Frontline and what they do please see their website: www.frontlinepartnership.org

We are also developing a relationship with the new Mayor in the surrounding area and the new Director at Mogilino in order to know exactly how the children are on a day to day basis. We want to help them in their responsibility for the children and we are organising some training for the new director to help her run the institute in the best interests of the children and to learn how best to care for them on a daily basis. Even though Mogilino has been cited for closure we believe it is important to train the carers to look after the children better ? however short term their time at the home may be.

Whilst the NGO Alliance is working at Mogilino too, we feel it is important to come at it from all angles!

We are talking to others to put a plan of action together using some of the viewers who have volunteered their skills and time - to go over to Mogilino. This is a little complicated due to the number of people going in and out of Mogilino at the moment and due to the time it is taking to do the individual assessments. We feel that skills-sharing is a huge help to those without any training working with disabled children. So our plan is to try and achieve this too!

There are 3 social workers, 2 kinesitherapists (massage therapists), 1 physiotherapist, 2 supervisors and 1 child development specialist working in Mogilino permanently.

A paediatrician goes there every month to monitor the diet and nutrition and even the children in the most severe condition have gained 3 to 5 kilograms. They are fed 5 times a day and receive additional vitamins and special milk.

Two of the kinesitherapists work 1 day per week and 2 work 3 days per week. The children go outside the building every day with social workers.

Thirteen of the staff members have left the home and three new people have been appointed since then.

The rehabilitation room is used now and the hygiene levels are maintained properly now.

All the children are taken care of by staff of the same sex. There are no more shower duties with staff of the opposite sex.

Six members of the original staff are being trained to become foster parents - so they will at some point take on the responsibility of taking a child home to care for him or her.

Stoyan was hospitalised in Pleven for an operation and recovered from it, but then he became most unwell with pneumonia. He has now recovered from this - but he will go back to hospital again soon for an eye operation, because there is evidence that his sight can be recovered.

Vaska was hospitalised in Ruse because she has osteoporosis of her legs. She takes medication now to help her and regularly visits the doctors in Ruse. She takes special milks for her bones. She has gained some weight.

Didi remains the same.

Todor was sent for an examination to check his hearing in Sofia. We will find out what the results are and if there is a plan regarding a hearing aid.

Monika, a bedridden deeply malnourished girl was hospitalised in Pleven.

Seven of the children fed only from bottles before have now gained 5 kilo's each. Their weight is regularly registered on special cards.

The capable young boys and girls eat with knives and forks and now eat off porcelain plates rather than tin bowls. They also use napkins.

Twenty one children and youngsters are being assessed by a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a speech therapist. All the children will then have been individually assessed and then reports for all of them will be finished by mid February.

By the end of January individual plans detailing the care needed for each child will be in full swing.

Whilst it may seem that this is all taking a long time - it is none the less great and critical progress. Now we expect things to move more quickly because the assessments will form the basis of what happens to the children on a daily basis from here on. Hopefully in the coming months we will physically see the changes in the children as they receive a good diet and proper care to begin the recovery process from a life of neglect.

We are going to spend the money we have received in these coming weeks to accelerate progress and to support the work of the NGO Alliance and others who will be at Mogilino.

We are preparing to present the film 'Bulgaria's Abandoned Children' to the European Parliament on March 4th. We want to make sure that the politicians apply pressure on the Bulgarian government and then work alongside them to bring about the necessary de-institutionalisation across the country.

At the moment the film is being distributed to different countries - so we are hoping that this continued exposure of the lives of the children in institutes in Bulgaria - will lead to support from many countries.

This must surely then bring about our greatest aim - to have all of the mentally and physically disabled children who are presently warehoused in large institutes to move into group care homes or micro homes (specifically built or renovated) for small numbers of children/teenagers living together with specialist staff and trained carers. Then the children can lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

Please continue to support us to achieve this.

With thanks and kind regards,

Kate and the team


27 February 2008

Campaign for Bulgaria's Abandoned Children: News Update

This is a swift alert to all our supporters to notify them that after some very heated discussions within the EU parliament in Brussels, the film 'Bulgaria's Abandoned Children' will be shown on 4th March. The event is being hosted by the Irish MEP Kathy Sinnott and the 20 minute screening will be followed by a panel discussion on de-institutionalisation. A more detailed news release will be available on the website shortly but in the meantime we would like to ask all our European-based supporters to contact their regional MEP's again to ask how they are getting involved on this issue ? are they attending the event, will they support the MEP Kathy Sinnott's declaration on the discrimination and institutionalisation of children with disabilities in the European Union and if they are contributing in any other way to the much needed pressure for deinstitutionalisation within Bulgaria.

Our Canadian supporters can access a specially written letter on the website to petition their government for political action on the unacceptable conditions within social care homes.

Support from within Bulgaria is becoming increasingly vocal with The Bulgarian Mother Movement and other NGO's petitioning their MEP's for the film to be shown and for political pressure to be applied to end the childrens suffering. Please see below:

Bulgarian Citizens in Support of Truth

Dear Members of Parliament, representing the member states of United Europe:

We are writing to you with a desire to make it known that there is a civil society in Bulgaria which does not agree with the position of those Bulgarian members of the European Parliament who oppose the screening of the ?Bulgaria?s Abandoned Children? documentary, scheduled for March 4, for you, representatives of the democratic societies of United Europe. We hold a firm belief that the film has to be shown, that it truthfully presents the situation in the children?s home in Mogilino in the period in which it was shot as well as the reality, the anguish and hopelessness of all Bulgarian children with disabilities, weak, helpless and abandoned, entirely dependent on society and state.

We plead that the film be screened in the name of all 8600 children in institutions who, according to the last available projections, will be 10 000 by the end of the year. The only respectable way to protect the honor and name of Bulgaria is for our state to take immediate action to resolve the problem of children in institutionalized care, to guarantee their future with both sound legislative changes and solid funding. We hope that the screening of this documentary will initiate a wide discussion in Europe?s parliament, which in itself would pressure the Bulgarian government to take quick and effective action in regard to children in institutionalized care.

We want to declare our disagreement with the position that the just presentation of the problems of institutionalized children will injure Bulgaria?s prestige. We do not believe that it is an attack on the culture, art or mentality of a peaceful, hard-working and civilized nation, which, in the turbulent years after the crash of communist regimes and dictatorships, turned into an example for ethnic tolerance in the Balkans. Bad management in the field of social security, corruption in political life, lack of transparency in politics and the insensitivity to the reactions of civil society in Bulgaria are, however, a fact. We join the indignation with which Europe meets the result ? the tragic fate of the children in Mogilino, filmed by Kate Blewett.

After the film was shown by BBC, some Bulgarian MEPs as well as the government, represented by the minister of social policy Emilia Maslarova, the chair of the State Agency for Child Protection Shirin Mestan and their subordinates, took immediate action and spent state resources to limit the reaction among Bulgarian and European societies ? a reaction which could lead to reveal much power abuse and managerial incompetence. The minister of social policy publicly tried to assert that ?it is high time people understood that when adults or children have such severe mental disabilities, they cannot learn to talk or to read. They simply do not have any competence for that. We have a psychologist [in Mogilino], but of course we do not have superb conditions, but anyway, this is all these children can achieve? (interview with InfoRadio, Sept. 19, 2007). Another statement of Minister Maslarova: ?I am convinced that wherever you go, you will find the same situation, because I know identical cases in European countries.? These are outrageous words which frighten with cynicism.

It is our desire that, when an eight-year-old in Bulgaria writes to its government that she is worried about abandoned children, that she does not want children to grow without care and affection, our prime minister will act as adequately as all European politicians who visited Mogilino did. It is the truth that neither our prime minister, nor our president has yet visited the home.

In the last few years the Bulgarian government and parliament were repeatedly informed about the terrible conditions in institutions for children by different international and local organization, foreign governments and many non-governmental organizations. There has been no result and the de-institutionalization of children continued to stall so that the jobs that these homes for children provide can be preserved. In only eight months last year the state has put 1928 children into these institutions while only 1533 children have found homes.

We do not wish to stand in judgment of our country, nor do we want political exile in other European states on the basis of the danger our government puts on our children?s lives. We only want the Bulgarian government to keep its responsibilities to us, the citizens of Bulgaria and to you, the citizens of United Europe.

That is why we plead that you show the film and expect any help which would accelerate the development of a full, informed, competent and emancipated civil society in Bulgaria. A society based on humanity and democracy. A society which demonstrates the attitude and ability of the Bulgarian citizen to do good; which knows and expertly uses its legal instruments to change; which is capable to demand effective dialogue with those in power; which is capable of carrying responsibility which can make the existence of homes like the one in Mogilino impossible.

Sincerely,

Citizens and organizations in support of this petition:

A Family for Every Child Association

Bulgarian Charities Aid Foundation

Society for All Association

Bulgarian Mothers Movement

Bulgarian Writers Association

Parents of children with disabilities from the bg-mamma.com internet forums

Civil Initiative of Adoptees and Adoptive Parents

Liternet.bg ? online magazine

Finally, we want to thank you all for your continued support and the actions you are taking to help children like Didi and Stoyan. We will post any news on progress at Mogilino, the children and of course the political developments through our website as well as send out a detailed update to all our registered supporters once the event on the 4th has taken place.

Kind regards and thank to you again

Kate Blewett


19 April 2008
Campaign for Bulgaria's Abandoned Children: News Update

Dear Supporter

We are aware that its been some time since we provided an update on the situation at Mogilino Social Care Home. There has been a great deal of political interference in recent months particularly since Mrs Maslarova declared the home would be closed. It is clear the government want the home closed as quickly as possible in order to close the book on the scandal which Kate Blewett's film exposed. As a result information on the closure and particularly the children's future has been confusing at times.

UNICEF, For Our Children (FOC) and the other specialists and staff have made great strides to rehabilitate the children medically and we can confirm that all the children who were malnourished have now gained at least 4 kgs. The children's physical and psychological rehabilitation will of course take much longer but progress is being made. This week we are organising for orthopaedic products, such as spinal jackets, and neck collars to be sent to the home for some for the bedridden children to help their mobility. It is through the continued generosity of our donors that we have been able to fund the work UNICEF and FOC are carrying out at the home.

The government has set a deadline for Mogilino to be closed by the end of April and a number of children have left already but in reality there will still be children at the home after this date.

Preparing the children to leave Mogilino is a delicate task. For some of the children it is the only place they have ever known and the prospect of new surroundings and people will be frightening. UNICEF and FOC have undertaken assessments on every child at Mogilino and have researched and recommended the best possible situation for the children. As part of this process the children's parents were contacted and asked if they wished to re-establish or grow the relationship with their child. Three children have gone to care homes nearer their families as part of the plan to reintegrate them into their families. Local social workers will work with these families to assist the process.

Through UNICEF, every possible care option has been considered for the children on an individual basis. For some of the more disabled children a new small group home is being proposed in Rouse, which is the nearest main town, and this is an initiative that TBACT are looking to help fund. Other children have or will go to new homes that are suitable for their abilities. There are also plans for more protected homes to be built for older children who can enjoy a level of independence. Fostering and adoption families are also being considered for some of the younger children.

As some children have left and more are due to leave shortly, we have appointed a Bulgarian supporter with the task of following up on all the children to ensure they are doing well in their new placements and to offer assistance if necessary. This will be an ongoing commitment to the children.

We are also looking to implement a Baba Scheme for all the children in their new placements. A Baba (Granny in Bulgarian) is a sort of visiting friend for the children, talking, playing and generally taking a personal interest in them and their well being. The Baba scheme has been incredibly successful and beneficial to many children in social care and we would like to see it expanded across Bulgaria. Three of the children from Mogilino have been moved to a new home in Rousse where they have Baba and are making real strides in progress. A member of the TBACT team recently saw the Baba scheme in action at a social care home in Plevin and commented:

'We were received by the director and after a 10 minute round of introductions were taken to the playroom where we saw about 25-30 under 3s and about 12 Babas. The children were lively and making use of the toys and playhouse. I spoke to several of the Babas and engaged with the children who were certainly small for their ages but animated and curious. The Baba?s all explained how they had been recruited and their reasons for wanting to join the scheme. It gives them a sense of continuing life purpose and enables them to use their considerable experience in raising and being engaged with their own families. They explained that they were supported by the resident psychologist who supervised them and helped them in their work. Each Baba is allocated two children. Strollers have been provided and they are able to take the children into the town, out for walks and even to their own homes. The benefits to the children are that they form an attachment to an important adult in their lives.......... This is an important part of a child?s development and enables them to more easily achieve important developmental milestones. Typically, children who do not walk and who are non-verbal and dis-engaged begin to become mobile, make sounds, form words, develop communication and so on. There was clearly a level of intimacy between the Babas and their charges. The director spoke in very positive terms about the contribution the scheme has made to the children?s wellbeing.'

In terms of specific information on the children we are unable to disclose too much personal detail but we can tell you:

Bojidar is one of three children who have moved to other care homes to be nearer their family. He lives in the care home during the week and returns to his family every week end. This is the start of a process of reintegration into his family and social services will work with his family to ensure they can cope.

Stoyan has been placed on the adoption register and it is hoped a family will be found for him soon. He did not have an operation to restore his sight as it was decided this was not in his best interests.

Didi has been moved to a protected home in Rousse where it is hoped she will learn independent living skills and have use of the facilities a large town can offer. She understands that her mother will not return to collect her. Two other girls have gone to this home also.

Milan and Misho continue to do well at their protected home in the south of the country.

Vasky is progressing well but her rehabilitation is expected to be slow. The years of neglect have taken their toll on her and she now has been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

We remain committed to the children of Mogilino, to safeguard their best interests and help with their recovery and social inclusion in any way we can. Over the next few weeks, our specific projects, the financial targets and the volunteers we will need to achieve them will be finalised and as a valued supporter we will of course be letting you know.

Thank you for your continued support.

The TBACT Team

23 April 2008
Government response to petition Children-Dying

Children-dying - epetition reply

23 April 2008

We received a petition asking: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to speak to the european union or anyone with power to press about Bulgaria's Abandoned Children." Details of Petition:

"BULGARIA'S ABANDONED CHILDREN (shown on ch 4 13th sept) Watched this program about children in Bulgaria, from various backgrounds poor or normal, had conditions such blind, deaf, learning , or parents just couldn't cope. They were sent to 1 institution and basically fed, clothed and washed, and nothing else, all day they would sit and rock because they were developing very big mental problems inside this "care home"from 75 children about 5 a year were dying. They were malnourished the same like African children. There is no 1 to help them, most of them can't talk, NO HELP AT ALL. In EU this shouldn't happen, its easy to read this, but to watch the program will be an experience you cannot forget. I urge that this program is republished so people can see these horrible conditions. This program is probably the worst thing i have seen in all my life. The Bulgarian government say all is ok but they need to be pushed to give even basic care, ANIMALS ARE TREAT MUCH BETTER than these children, if they were looked after by the RSPCA they'd be in a better condition. These children do NOT need to die but they are."

Read the Government's response

In the run-up to its Accession to the European Union Bulgaria committed to ensuring decent and equal living conditions in all child-care institutions. The programme of improvement includes closing those institutions that cannot be brought up to the required standard, developing community-based services, and reducing the high rate of child institutionalisation. The BBC programme, "Bulgaria's Abandoned Children" highlighted disturbing conditions in the Mogilino care home and serves as a reminder that the Bulgarian government still needs to do more to reduce the number of children in large-scale, long-term institutional care. Following the broadcast of the programme, Emilia Maslarova, Bulgarian Minister of Labour and Social Policy, and Meglena Tacheva, Minister of Justice, visited the Mogilino care home and announced that it would be closed. In the short-term, a team of specialists has since visited the home and is ensuring that each child has an individual care plan based on an assessment of their specific needs and condition. An immediate result has seen some of the children receive hospital treatment and all now have an improved diet. The Bulgarian government is currently working with NGOs on a comprehensive plan for deinstitutionalising all children currently in homes. The EU has made available 5 million of structural funds for the execution of this plan. The UK welcomes and supports the Bulgarian government's efforts to accelerate progress in reforms. We remain closely engaged with the Bulgarian government and with the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) community, encouraging close co-operation between the two in helping to implement the necessary reforms. Our Ambassador to Bulgaria has raised the topic with the Bulgarian Prime Minister and with the Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

You signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to "speak to the european union or anyone with power to press about Bulgaria's Abandoned Children."

Prime Minister's Office

Petition information -
Petition Children Dying

If you would like to opt out of receiving further mail on this or any other petitions you signed, please email optout@petitions.pm.gov.uk

This news today brought a tear to our eyes to see you have achieved the Government to take notice.
Kate you are doing a very special thing to bring this to the World's attention, we are sending you loads of light.



June 2008
Update for the Children of Bulgaria

Dear Supporter

The last few months have been very frustrating and the persistent government interference has made an already difficult situation much harder at Mogilino. However, UNICEF continue to manage the rehabilitation project there and some very encouraging results are starting to be seen. We have some specific information on how the children are recovering and what steps are being taken for their futures as well as the latest news from our charity.

In May we appointed a Bulgarian representative, Maria Sharkova, who will be responsible for tracking all the children as they leave Mogilino for new homes. She will visit the children, assess their situation, make recommendations to TBACT about any future support we can give as well as alert us to any problems. In the case of the children who are being re-integrated with their families, we want to see that their local social services are supporting the transition and again we will help where we can.

Maria has already visited Milen and Misho in their new protected home in the south of the country and a news update of this visit and how the two boys are doing will be posted on the website shortly.

Maria is also tasked with setting up a Baba Scheme for some of the children. She is already starting this process, with help from UNICEF and the recruitment of suitable Baba's is now underway.

Despite the government's announcement that Mogilino would close at the end of April, UNICEF and other agencies have agreed that the home will need to stay open until March 2009 in order to rehabilitate and prepare the children and young people for leaving. In the case of the over 18's, who number 32 in total, the lack of suitable new homes for them has been an ongoing worry everyone involved is determined that they should not enter the dreaded adult institutions.

For this reasons we have proposed that our charity funds a small group home for some of the young people to be built in the nearby city of Rousse where they will have access to day centres and local amenities. We are working with a number of experts to develop the plan for this home so that it is ideally suited to the needs of the individual young people who will live there. UNICEF have agreed to this plan and we are now looking for a suitable building to renovate or a plot of land to build on. We will have much more news on this over the next few weeks and months and will of course share our progress with you.

As you know we are committed to ending the system of institutionalising children, effectively warehousing them, in Bulgaria. There are many ways in which this goal can be achieved ? small group homes and community schemes is of course one way to get the children out that are already in the system but another way is to stop the supply of children to these places. Institutions exist because people abandon their children into the system, in some cases they are actively encouraged to do so. Intervening early is key to stopping the supply. There are now a few Early Intervention Schemes running in Bulgaria and we are keen to support this work ? mindful that it must have evidence of its efficacy ? and we are in discussions now about a possible roll out project.

We have been criticised recently for imparting too much personal information about the children and whilst we feel it is necessary for our supporters to know that their concern and their generosity is being effective in changing the children lives, we also must work with some of the other agencies involved at Mogilino co-operatively. For this reason we can only discuss the basic facts.

Vasky has continued to gain weight and is now having physiotherapy, including weight bearing exercises to get her standing and it is hoped she will become more mobile in the future.

Stoyan has been placed on the international adoption register and his adoption is going through now. This is a highly confidential process and we are not party to any more information than this.

Didi was taken to a new protected home in Rousse but this was a temporary move and we were very alarmed to hear that she was then sent back to Mogilino. She has now been placed in a home for young disabled people who can learn a trade in Sofia. Maria will be visiting her very soon and reviewing her situation.

Desislava is being assessed by an eye specialist to see if there is any possibility to improve her sight but an operation cannot go ahead until her mother is found to give permission as she has not given up her parental rights to her daughter.

In total 10 children have been moved into new accommodation in nearby Rousse. Maria will be going to seeing them soon.

In addition to our continued support to the Mogilino children we are also looking to help close another institution which is nearer to Sofia. Two members of our team have just returned from visiting the home and meeting the various organisations involved in this project. We will be posting news on the website about this project and a volunteer programme that we are aiming to set up first soon. We will also be emailing everyone who have expressed an interest in volunteering.

After some frustrating weeks we are now starting to see real progress both at Mogilino and in other areas of Bulgaria.

Thank you for your continued support.

Kate and the team