films that make a difference
''October 2009. I am thrilled to say that Mogilino Social Care Home has now been closed. It has been a journey and a half, but it has been incredibly rewarding to watch the impacts of the film Bulgaria's Abandoned Children rippling out, globally and within Bulgaria too.
When the film first went out in 2007 it created an international outcry, with viewers forming strong petitions targeted at MPs and the European Parliament demanding change for the disabled, hidden away in Bulgaria's barren institutes.
Other viewers raised money, gathered clothing and toys together - to deliver to specific institutes in Bulgaria - and for some, the agony of the children's lives was enough to take them on a flight over to Bulgaria to physically offer their professional skills to help the children and the staff.
When the film screened in Bulgaria, the local media descended on Mogilino asking questions. Soon Bulgarian television screened The Magnificent Six, a series of celebrity driven shows to raise money - which they donated to UNICEF to build Small Group Homes for the children and young people of Mogilino.
Extraordinary and wonderful things have been happening because the focus is now on the disabled children - previously dumped quietly into the inadequate Bulgarian institutes.
The children who remain in Mogilino have all been given new placements across the country. Their care is better - and this is what it is all about - ''CARE''. If you are cared for, you have a chance of leading a fulfilling life. It is heartbreaking to see any disabled children mistreated, as they are so dependent and vulnerable.
Today, the children of Mogilino have new lives and new hopes. But, there are still 8,000 or so disabled children remaining in institutes through out the country, some worse than others - and it is these children we must think of now - and continue to put pressure on the government to create Small Group Homes and ultimately a good fostering system - to give these Bulgarian children their lives back''.
In the hills of rural Bulgaria lies Mogilino, a small village whose main employer is the children's Social Care Home - where 75 unwanted children are growing up. Few of the children can talk, not necessarily because they are unable but rather because no one has ever taught them how.
With extraordinary access, director Kate Blewett takes us into this tragic silent world. She meets children 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 is able to talk, and has 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 are unable to leave their beds, many are literally wasting away.
Abandoned into the hands of the staff at Mogalino these children inhabit a bleak uncaring 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. This film is a heart-rending and eye-opening look into the life of one such institution.
"It was impossible not turn away from the pain and suffering on display...nothing on television has brought me closer to tears."The Daily Telegraph
"This was, as so little television is, something that needed to be seen: all the less reason for it to be tucked away on BBC4."The Independent