Sunday, January 13, 2008

A CHANGE OF A DRESS...


The Phillip Lim dress came and went. It took five days to arrive by "express" delivery. I unwrapped it from the lovely packaging and tried it on. Perfect. But as DHL rang the doorbell I was re- watching the documentary Bulgaria's Abandoned Children on Google. The film was made at Mogilino, a social care home for children in Bulgaria. I'd seen it when it was on BBC2 back in November and had thought about the film every day since. I don't know if it has since been shown in the US or anywhere else except in Bulgaria. If you haven't seen it, it's a distressing film to watch. Many of the children are mildly disabled when they're sent to Mogilino but babies who are left in cots all day and night for years won't learn to walk, their bones waste away. If no one bothers to speak to them they never learn to talk. Three of the children at Mogilino died from the effects of long term neglect and malnutrition during the making of the film. The first time I saw it, the film had just started as I was flicking channels and I sat rigid, watching in disbelief and with rising anger.

All the information on the film and the campaign is here.

I had been following the response to the film, had signed the petition, had written to my MP and relevant MEP's which - thanks to a template letter generated here takes about five minutes. But although the children at that home are now being helped, that one home was chosen to represent an average Bulgarian institution; not the best, but not the worst. Bulgaria has the highest number of institutionalized mentally and physically disabled children in Europe. Before joining the EU the Bulgarian government was given the equivalent of 30 million US dollars to address its social care "issues". I wonder what they did with it?

So when the dress arrived it was a no brainer. I had been thinking of all kinds of madcap fundraising ideas without deciding on anything. I sent the dress back and I am donating the cost of it to The Campaign for Bulgaria's Abandoned Children. It's a start.

I don't think I've ever asked anyone to do anything through this blog. But now I'm asking you to watch a harrowing, upsetting film on Google. And if you do feel compelled to write a letter, sign a petition or anything let me know in the comments. That would make me much happier than a dress ever did.

9 comments:

l'embrouillamini said...

I think what you have decided to do is very admirable. I think we all have these pangs of guilt, or whatever it is, but to actually do something about it is commendable.

I studied child language acquisition at uni, and although the course was from a linguistic perspective, I read about children in similar circumstances to those in Bulgaria.

Unfortunately I don't think many people would do what you have done. It's easy to think 'oh, the poor souls', but to actively change your life to help another is a rarity these days.

C x

Julia said...

That's awesome.

Anonymous said...

Hi, well i have to say this, that following your blog for some time its the first time i wanted to say well done, that was wonderful. All the rest for me is not important! Best Wishes, Petroula x hope your very well by the way!

Joanna Goddard said...

oh my gosh, that is amazing. good for you. xo

headmistress said...

hmm, breaking my longtime lurking but...
I remember watching this documentary last year - words like horror, grief and fury are beyond understatements. Especially the manager of the home - her complete lack of responsibility was incomprehensible.
I'm really glad to see that Mogilino is doing better, but like you said, this isn't the worst of the homes there. A friend of mine works as a voluntary paediatrician at another home near where that was filmed, and her stories are enough to leave you sleepless for a long time. As well as the need for more funding, it is the insane amount of beurocracy that impedes the help needed.

that said, your gesture is really, really awesome and utterly inspirational

Lola is Beauty said...

Hi all, thanks for the comments. This is not something I would usually post on this blog, since it's basically very light and about clothes. But with the dress there was a link and that film hit me so hard it was a case of having to do something, however small.

Hi Petroula, long time! Hope you're doing well too x

Julia said...

Hi,
I just read what you wrote about these children in Bulgaria. My parents are living there at present.I only go there on the holidays and had never heard of this. My mother rang me up this evening and I told her about it, something must be done! She told me she knows about it. There is a group of women belonging to the Women´s Association in Bulgaria who are taking care of this problem. They visit orphanages all over Bulgaria and help raise funds organizing events such as bazars and charity parties. I told her about Mogilino in particular, since you mention it in your blog, so she will talk personally to the head of the group that takes care of this situation, so that she is informed and can do something about it. You will be glad to hear the situation is improving and there are people highly commited to the project of helping the children in orphanages. Congratulations for your example! If you want to know more I´ll be glad to tell you whatever I get to know. It´s a very sad thing to hear, but fortunately there are people already helping! All the best, Julia

{this is glamorous} said...

I didn't click on the link to watch the film because I am emotionally fragile when it comes to harrowing films on social issues. But I will sign the petition and donate to The Campaign, simply because of your post and the fact that you gave up your Phillip Lim.

Lola is Beauty said...

You're amazing! Thank you. I've had some updates from the campaign about what they've done with the money raised so far - so good that they tell you exactly what's been done and with how much so you can actually see the difference it's making.