Monday, November 26, 2007

Shame on you, Minister Grancharova!

In my Oct. 16 post Bulgarian government - unit measure for arrogance I described how our social minister Emilia Maslarova insolently tried to rebut the shocking facts about the "care home" in Mogilino disclosed in the BBC documentary Bulgaria's Abandoned Children. (If you don't know the story around Mogilino, check the relevant links at the right side of this page).
Now Maslarova's record in arrogance is broken by her colleague Gergana Grancharova, Minister for European Affairs. (WTF is the function of a "ministry for European affairs", other than giving some people comfortable lives on public payroll? And then we are told that there is no money for the teachers, the sick children etc. This was off-topic, excuse me.)
The information that I'll share with you was brought to me by the Mogilino blog. Its Nov. 15 post What's new gives a link to Minister Grancharova's blog post titled Mogilino. (I didn't know that some of our ministers have blogs. Haven't they any true friends to tell them that in their case, blogging isn't a very good idea?)
Grancharova's blog is in Bulgarian. I doubt that if it were in English, she would write the same things, though with our rulers everything is possible. I want the international community, the BBC and everybody to have access to the above mentioned post. Therefore, I am translating it below, omitting only the irrelevant first paragraph. Possibly I am violating copyright, to hell with it. Keep in mind that the author is a lady who has studied law and has a postgraduate qualification in International Human Rights Protection. The mentioned Red House is the building where the documentary was officially shown in Bulgaria for the first time. I won't add any further comments to the text.

"Mogilino. The BBC documentary about the care home for children with severe physical and mental disabilities. The shock of the audience after watching these 90 minutes of tremendous agony. The author, British Kate Blewett, who was these days in Bulgaria to explain what she intended to report with this film, who hasn't done his job and who must be very ashamed because of this horrible reality. Kate appeared before all national TV channels plus the crowded hall of the Red House, administered justice and went home. After her, a team from the French TV Channel 2 came. They want to make documentaries about the Bulgarian institutions for abandoned children... I am terrified by the thought that for people who don't know my country, Bulgaria will evoke only the memory of this documentary.
On Monday I visited the Mogilino care home with my colleagues Emilia Maslarova and Miglena Tacheva. We saw its reality, not a movie. I wanted to see with my own eyes what is done with public money, the money of us all, for the abandoned children. What is not done. I had previously watched the entire BBC documentary at the computer in my office. I had felt terrified and helpless. I had requested from the Social Ministry all relevant information in order to form my own picture, my own opinion. I had answered all letters I had received. I knew I had to go there. I contacted one of the large Austrian foundations that now establish in Bulgaria their work devoted to supporting institutions for disabled children. I suggested that they could start their work with Mogilino (they informed me that they were beginning their activity in Bulgaria with an initial sum of EUR 2 millions). They immediately accepted the idea and the next day sent their representative from Bucharest... directly to the care home in Mogilino. They contacted me again, saying that the situation there was much better than they expected... they couldn't begin with this home, it had everything, they would look for an institution in real need.
The children met us with joy. Emilia Maslarova knew most of them by name, they also knew her (I admit I was moved by this). The women employed at Mogilino asked me, "Why did Mrs. Kate lie to us, she promised us funds, support to the care home scheduled to be closed, this was the reason we let her make her film here. Why doesn't it show how we hug the children." The Bulgarian National Radio asked Mrs. Kate about the promised money - I tried, she said, but...
I know that the first reaction of every normal person after seeing such a documentary is to feel miserably. Unhappy. To touch wood secretly. To ask, "My God, why do such terrible things happen!" I know that the audience at the Red House applauded Kate Blewett. It is absurd to applaud after you have seen this documentary...
Children with severe mental and physical disabilities are born - I am saying this with deep sorrow - in all parts of the world. Despite the progress, despite globalization, despite scientific research and medicine. 10% of the EU population are people with disabilities. This is a tragedy and it looks the same painful way around the world, regardless whether these children are filmed in a specialized institution or in their own homes. Alas, some of the parents - in all parts of the world - abandon these children of their own. Perhaps they think they save their own future lives, they save themselves, their partners, their other children. The children in Mogilino are abandoned but only some of them have signed documents by their parents that they can be adopted by somebody who would be willing. Therefore, the state will facilitate the procedures for their adoption.
They have rights. According to Bulgarian and international laws. To film them, to expose details about their life, their medical record, their appearance - you have to obtain somebody's consent. Who allowed a camera to film over months their faces, their wounds, their catatonia. Who alowed a camera to film them naked?! Even if some of these chilren had the chance to be taken by adoptive parents, now after the documentary has broadcasted them as an edification, would anybody want to adopt them?!
We are living in Bulgaria. Bulgaria unfortunately isn't a rich country, not yet. The care home in Mogilino had to be closed back in July 2006 according to an act by the Government. The local Municipality council took a contrary stance. But the living condition for these children there are good, I am saying this only after I saw it with my own eyes, even Kate Blewett says it. There are cosy dormitories, there is a playroom with a pool of baloons, there is a special therapy room made back in 2001 with a water bed. 67 disabled children are under the care of 60 employees. Yes, there is no professional care in the true modern sense for these children. Yes, there aren't many experts (teachers, therapists, psychologists) who would agree to live and work constantly in a village and give individual care to each child. Here, the state is obliged to offer a solution - by providing much higher pay or by gradually moving these institutions to large cities. But we must say frankly that whatever tha state does, it will never change the fact of the tragedy - these children are, first, sick, and second, abandoned.
I ask myself, why do we cause ourselves this humiliation to applaud the filming of a tragedy. What is this urge? The tragedies everywhere in the world look the same way in a film. But the tragedy must be a bell calling for help, not an occasion to administer "justice".
I said in Mogilino that I am convinced that society must become and is the natural partner of the state in the matters concerning people with disabilities. Organizations of citizens can provide the specialized care and approach for this, similarly to the situation in all modern states. We in Bulgaria won't have a true elite until our successful people begin philantropic work. Until the philantropists of today and of today's scale are born. I also said that in Bulgaria, foundations are made by poor people with ideas, while abroad foundations are made by rich people with sentiments. We'll see the time when true celebrities will devote a part of their money to true causes. It won't be today but it will happen. And then the applause will be for the people who solve problems. Not for the creation of a problem by exposing accumulated problems. Not by putting a lable on a state... and by the following applause for this."


Emily said...

Organizations of citizens can provide the specialized care and approach for this, similarly to the situation in all modern states.

Maya M said...

This is nonsense. Tell me a single modern state where the government has renounced responsibility for the abandoned children. In fact, in all modern states the government monitors the well-being even of children who grow in their parents' homes.

Mogilino said...

Thanks for translating the ludicrous Grancharova blog entry. She got over 280 comments and I think she now understands how superficial and cynical her thoughts were.

Maya M said...

I hope, indeed, that she understands now and will in the future keep such thoughts to herself! I also wanted to drop a comment there, but I need my rubber gloves to write at a site like that, and I cannot find them at the moment ;).