Bulgaria's Abandoned Children: Revisited

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children: RevisitedIn 2007 the BBC documentary film Bulgaria's Abandoned Children caused an international outcry because the images of neglect were so shocking to witness in a country that had just become a member of the European Union. Viewers were overwhelmed with emotion and anger when they saw Bulgarian children brutalized and dying before their eyes when in State care, having been abandoned by their parents because of some form of disability.

After the transmission of the film, MEP's and Ministers across Europe visited Bulgaria to demand changes, to ask to see conditions in other institutes and to donate money to instigate the process of change and de-institutionalization in a country suffering from the hangover of Communism. Eighteen months after filming Bulgaria's Abandoned Children - Director Kate Blewett returned this year to Bulgaria - to film with a handful of the children featured in the original deeply disturbing documentary - to see where they are today and how their lives have changed since the outcry.

It is testimony to the power of television to bring about concrete change, and also demonstrate how even apparently hopelessly withdrawn and "damaged" children can be reached, helped and given a meaningful life and future with the right care. Bulgaria's Abandoned Children: Revisited - shows both worlds, the past and the present in a 60 minute programme.

The 2007 film caused an international outcry because the images of neglect were so shocking to witness in a country that had just become a member of the European Union. The documentary demonstrates how even apparently hopelessly withdrawn and "damaged" children can be reached, helped and given a meaningful life and future with the right care.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 59 minutes)

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Ratings: 8.18/10 from 68 users.

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50 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Hardy

    Even if this is no global problem as many other issues discussed on this site: a great documentary.

    A half heartbreaking and half heartwarming movie. How Didi and Milan turned out to be able to lead a worthy life is absolutely beautiful.

    Again, well worth the watch and an absolutely wonderful documentary. Gives you the hope that human nature isn't pitch-black after all and that violent people like the 'carers' in Mogilino will die out as soon as possible.

  2. jmk

    Hardy:

    This is a global problem. It happens in every country, even America.

  3. Hardy

    Oops didn't make my statement clear:

    I'm talking about the suffering of millions of people versus the suffering of a few thousand, not saying the extent of their suffering is any different.

  4. waspocelts

    hardy i couldnt have said it any better great documentary

  5. eric

    This is one of the docs you see on this site that really has meaning, what has happened is extraordinary; it shows what neglect we have even to just the simple things like a walk in the park, the sun, a smile and rarely do people give a smile, most of us don't appreciate life, and that is a sad point to come to that even ones child's life must be of suffering, torment, what we are doing to our kids is beyond me to say but you see it yourself and perhaps you would never allow this in your lives wherever you are but if this truly means something to you, not something temporary or emotionally entertaining

  6. Gilgamesh

    Thank you for making this documentary available to me.

    It is often pointed out formal graves and bones that show healed injuries shows Neanderthal and Cro-Magnum man assisted the weaker members of their tribes and knew the value of cooperation and decency. Modern mankind has often forgot to take care of even their in group, much less outsiders.

    Congratulations on the work done by the BBC4 documentary team. Then made a difference and improved lives.

    One thought on the original institute's director; I would be sympathetic if she had pled lack of funds and short staffing, instead, she asks people to feel sorry for her. With her self serving remarks, she would fit right in with many politicians in the US.

  7. Nielsch

    Among the most shocking docs I've ever watched in my entire lifetime, still it is one that I would recommend everybody to watch. These are the docu's that really matter and it's my opinion that it's necessary for it to reach a broad audience and viewers, on the hope that maybe one day actions will be taken.

    The treatement these children received is beyond inhumane and heartwrenching in every sense of the word. I actually cried when seeing how happy milan was, and how lives improved for those filmed.

  8. Lagg

    This documentary was particularly hard for me to watch. I have a sister named DeeDee, she has autism, AND was born the same year as Deedee from this documentary. Its so hard watching her trapped here.

  9. mazzy

    "Hey, great idea, lets drop our children off at The Auschwitz Children's Center on the way to dinner tonight, Honey." "Yes, that my Dear, is a dashing idea!" (Seriously, who does this to their children?!?)

  10. Bridgette

    What a remarkable transformation! When I first watched the original documentary, I was heart-broken...but moslty felt helpless thinking that there would be nothing anybody could do to help them in the condition they were already in. I am so relieved to see them all doing better and finally living their lives! Just goes to show you that we-as a society, should NEVER underestimate how powerful of a force we really are when we all stand up for something together. But first and foremost, a big Thank you to the makers of this heartfelt documentary for exposing the harsh reality how so many children in orphanages suffer. I feel so happy for those children now, especially for DeeDee! She seems to be so happy at that new place!

  11. morlann

    Very emotive, glad that everyone has been rehomed and hope that the other lost souls can be helped in the same way!

  12. Happygoluca

    I was so happy to see all the kids who's lives had improved. I am seriously rethinking how I live my life. I want to be of use to people, animals and the world in general. I can't believe that I worry about such insignificant things, when this is happening. I would love to know these people and hold them. That child who hugs the interviewer at the end utterly breaks my heart. I wish I could have him near me simply to hold him, feed him and love him.

  13. Free2think

    Thought provoking!

  14. Alexandrea

    @Happygoluca

    You sound like the sweetest person. If only we had more people like you in the world, maybe it would be such a bad place. What a blessing to have been given the divine gift of compassion; may God bless and keep you as you rethink your life and pursue you dreams.

    Peace

  15. Alexandrea

    wouldn't.... sorry lol

  16. Collette

    I was crying when watching the first documentary about this problem. My roots are from a neighbouring country of Bulgaria and I know something about the region. Myself I always had the belief that the people there are so carying to others especially their own families. I was shocked they can abandon the care can be so bad, the children left to die. I was feeling guilty I had a good life. But this is something that can happen anywhere, I realise that. It is the social revolution and not the emotions in one's own heart.
    I am glad ther is another documentary on this subject done, I am muh relieved. Now I know what I didn't know, what I didn't imagine. It is scary to know that we don't know about many thigs bad out there, we can't even imagine. At this very moement...
    I felt sorry equally for all the cildren watching the first doc, but something touched me deeply watching Deedy at the end shaking herself and becoming ''dull''. Maybe because she is capable of understanding more or because her mother abandoned her when she could fully remember her and she needed her. It is awful these children were being treated as domestic animals: feed and sleep and even abuse. No brain stimulation, no motivation, no purpose. So horrible that watchign these I feel we have come a way far to be able to act. But first we should tell about places like this one. The media surly helpt in this one. Great doc!!!

  17. RESOL - BRASIL!

    I watched the first doc on its release, and I always thought of Milen and Didi!
    This 'revisited' edition bringed tears into my eyes to know that they were moved to a better place!
    It bringed me tears of joy to see them smiling and talking as they never did!
    great DOC!

  18. Carrie

    OMG - Neglect !?

  19. meagain

    "because of their disease" neglect & starvation in the care of other humans.?!

  20. Jessica

    I watched this documentary and also the one on the children in China, and I cried for over two hours. I can't think of a worse crime than to neglect and harm a child. I want to find a way to help children now. I think the most important thing about these documentaries is that they cause action. If you watch the film and simply feel sorry for the children and move on with your life then it was pointless.

  21. Alissbert

    Oh Dear God, thank you!

    I felt totally overwhelmed when i saw Didi again, ever since i saw the first one, i felt so sad devastated! She did not belong there. Quite smart, eloquent and very charming girl, it makes me so happy to see that things have improved for her!

    Its things like this that all people need to see and do. Expose the problems and make people aware. Very glad these children are not suffering to the unbearable extent they were.

    God bless all noble souls that contributed to this beautiful thing happening. Where there is sadness and torment, there is also hope and joy, humankind is not completely rotted, there is still kindness and love out there.

    Cheers for that!

  22. kimdracula

    wonderful doc, really sad.

  23. Person

    Watching Vasky eat real food just made my day!

  24. Danielle

    "This was an incredibly heartbreaking story that needed 2b told. These very special, precious angels didnt ask 2b put here on this earth and NO ONE certainly should be treated in anyway close to those types of facilities. Good job BBC!

  25. Temirova

    The children of this world bare the brunt of adults mistakes. It is a huge shame.

  26. Francesca

    This just proves the carers comments in the previous 2007 video to be complete and utter bullcrap and misunderstanding!

    Look at Vasky, I'm not going to lie and say I didn't think she was dying in the last video - because that really is what the likely outcome looked liked. Then you see her now, and she is doing so much better - and that really did make me smile.

    The child at the end still breaks my heart and makes me well up - I just want to give these children so much love and care. I feel so lucky to have been brought up the way I have - even if it is the UK where you can pretty much want for nothing nowadays with our government systems that people (unlike myself) use and abuse. People that claim money for "disabilities" that basically cant be assed to get off their ass. Well maybe if they saw the genuine problems these children face day-in,day-out, they would (i'd hope) rethink their own lives.

    Thank you very much for posting, it has opened up my eyes to a lot and my outlook is now very different to the one I had before. I'll never forget this. x

  27. Jeremy

    How truely fantastic it was to see that there can be total change in such a massive way.
    I was heart broken at first.
    That man that was beating mute children....
    Total coward. I have the solution for his sort.
    As the changes were showen, I had a glimmer of hope for the defensless souls of the children.
    That glimmer turned into a lazer-light of elation for Didi and the others.
    It just makes such a refreshing change to see some action taken, and some intervention.
    Thats all it took.
    For one womman to challenge that WEAK attempt of a system.
    We should all wish to be as helpfull as her.

  28. Rahman

    A very touching and moving documentary. It shows us how brutal life can be, and that we must do something about it. Many thanks to the producers of this documentary along with the viewers who supported those children via donations and campaigns.

  29. TomatoTom

    Broke my heart and the sad thing is this could have been you or I. Being born in an unfortunate situation like that was not a choice but complete bad luck. How would you feel if the world gave up on you.

    Can someone do something to keep the ball rolling to make sure this does not keep happening?

  30. mitsy

    I rarely have anything good to say about the media - but then rarely does a journalist go into a subject like this one and so deeply.

    It was not a one-off. She spent time there, 9months on and off and was able to follow through on her subject.

    The result was a true revolution in the lives of these abandoned children.

    May more of the muckrakers learn how to be good journalists.

    Thank you to bbc4 and the staff that put the original documentary together and made such a difference in the lives of these children.

  31. Bernadette Salem

    Beautiful ending :)

  32. prayer warrior

    WOW...I am from the U.S. and the only thing I wanted to do was jump into the video and beat the man that was beating the kids, beat the director who was talking about I feel sorry for me, Im a good director and how she felt sorry for the building. No one can say that Vasky's leg was not purposely broken. They already knew how fragile those kids were but yet they handled them so carelessly and placed them back in their beds with bedsores. I pray that they are all doing well and being cared for. I cried when the child reached out his arms to the reporter so that she could hold him. You know there must have been sexual abuse as well and dont forget that a man (caretaker) walking those naked teenagers to the shower. That director looked like she took the money. Awesome documentary and awesome ending.

  33. avd420

    I feel you, my great-grandfather immigrated from Bulgaria after the First world war.

  34. Norris Nordin

    I saw the earlier documentary, and now this. I was near tears throughout, wanting so desperately to reach out to each of these children and hold each close to my heart. How desperately they need both proper nutrition, treatment, and love.

  35. Eileen Watkins

    Well done I haven't slept well since I saw the first documentary and am so pleased I have seen this update, an oscar for Kate she's a credit to mankind.Eileen

  36. Liam Fionescu

    having been adopted from romania, i feel nothing but gratitude... could have been me

  37. rose

    The first documentary has remained so vivid in my memory since i wached it in 2008. It makes me sick to think that such innocent children have to live like this. This world is crazzy!!

  38. rose

    seen as these scum bags on the dole dont work maybe they should do something with themselves and help raise money for those who cant live off their goverments.

  39. Tracy Reed

    Wonderful documentary. I had found the original by accident on Youtube and began to watch it. My heart just ached terribly for these children. After watching I had to find out if there was an update to these children's lives and how heartwarming to see that there was, and they were able to go to caring, loving places, where they could learn, live and thrive.

    The BBC4 now needs to do one in Romania. I know there are others around the world like this , but if we thought Bulgaria is bad, Romania is worse. These children need help and change now!

  40. John Smith

    This total w*ores still do not give a 6it about the kids
    If it wasn't the bad image of Bulgaria that BBC created they wouldn't lift a finger to make the situation better - absolute hypocrisy
    I am from Bulgaria and trust me I know what I'm talking about

  41. Bodhi Rohde

    I would very much like to know how the little boy who stood in one place is doing. I am also wondering what happened with the employees. I hope they were shot. They knew what they were doing was wrong. I hope that I heard wrong when they said they would be training the current employees of Mogilino. Thank God for the woman who made this film.

  42. Bodhi Rohde

    And wasn't it ablsoutely amazing how much concern Milan had for the filmmaker when he thought she might go back there? After all that he suffered he had so much compassion. I really and truly hope the "carers" in that place are put to death in a gruesome way. Director and Nurse especially who without a doubt knew that those children were not ill because of disease but because of malnutrition and neglect and abuse.

  43. Ryan

    I really HATE to say this, my mother is a therapist who works with foster children in the US, but I seriously believe that these children are better off dead than living in these horrible conditions. People in most countries do not treat ANIMALS this way. I am glad to see that there are at least some changes that have come from these documentaries and hope that this kind of treatment can be eradicated.

  44. iknow

    EU take by force children.This article didn' mentioned this. Do you know what can be the reason to take children by force well money for the social worker is enough motivation

  45. zani

    poor children ;(

  46. lpen7

    I am so glad I found this! I have been haunted by the first doc(Bulgaria's Abandoned Children) & am greatly relieved to see these children saved & flourishing. I do wish they'd have shared the fate of the "care givers" & director of Mogilino. I'm not a vengeful person but I believe in justice. I hope they were held accountable, not simply moved on to a similar position. THAT would be yet another travesty! "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it" .This doc is, among other things, clear evidence that there is always hope. Thank you!

  47. lpen7

    A footnote to my original comment about this doc: I applaud! the filmmakers work & appreciate their accomplishments! If I had a criticism it would by that having viewed the 1st one, I wish there had been less of it in the 2nd & more new footage & information. I think that for a viewer who missed or had no access to the 1st, it's story could be shared/conveyed with more condensed images and more pointed narration. This is a true case of "a picture paints a thousand words"

  48. April M. Gutierrez

    I really wanted to kno where he is as well!!

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