Children Left Behind

Warning – not for the faint of heart:

Building on yesterday's Face of the Day, a reader sends the above footage and writes:

I've worked in Bulgarian orphanages for several years, and the conditions truly are deplorable. The British documentary "Abandoned Children of Bulgaria" chronicles many of the abuses and hardships that occurred at one home. The film raised an international outcry, though many Bulgarian officials vociferously denied the problem. In the wake of the film, that particular home was closed, but many like it remain.

In addition to outright abuse, funding is inadequate, personnel are barely paid enough to get by, and facilities are aging and in desperate need of repair.

EU regulations now stipulate some sort of reform, namely that children not be kept in "orphanages", but very often this merely boils down to renaming the two wings of the building a "Centers for Family-Style Care", retaining the same staff, children, and facilities, and declaring the problem solved.

Meanwhile, children who leave the orphanages do so with almost no life skills, a sub-standard and often incomplete education, no money, and nowhere to go. They often fall victim to organized crime, the girls as prostitutes and the boys as low-level thugs. It's a truly horrific situation, and I'm immensely grateful to you for helping to highlight it.

Children lack advocates: many children need surgery for cataracts and crossed eyes – to which they are entitled under Bulgaria's laws – but don't get it simply because there is no one to stand up for their rights and demand it.