The Tragedy of Orphanages

Recently published by the CEO of Lumos, the video relates the importance of family to children’s development. Georgette Mulhier relates her experience of Romania and Moldova.

There’s an even darker aspect to this story in that much of the suffering is the result of organised crime.   In his ‘shocking and insightful’ article on ‘Death Camps for Children’ founder Terry Hallman discovered a culture of NGOs being coopted into silence.

In comments on the original article which has since been condensed,  an ITN journalist well know for his efforts in this  area offers an ear.  He informs me that the author JK Rowling is interested in helping  children like these in Eastern Europe.  Unfortunately ITN need several instances to be reported to justify any investigation.

Terry observed his ethical dilemma:

“I don’t know if I’m stretching ethics here or not.  On the one hand, I am bound by confidentiality and respect for the Western team’s work, as well as legitimate concern that everyone could be shut out entirely via mere mention of this information publicly.  At the same time, silence will continue to prolong a deadly situation.  What the Western team was told three weeks ago is exactly what the HRW team was told seven years ago.  Obviously, perpetrating silence remains the status quo, and therefore nothing has changed.  The Western team didn’t know about the HRW report until after the fact, when I pointed it out to them last week.  They’re at least reconsidering their promise of silence, but feel bound by their own word — unwitting though it may have been — to keep silent.  I hope that they will ultimately recognize that their overriding obligation is to their clients — kids in concentration camps, as they themselves put it — above the interests of people keeping their jobs and certain powers-that-be threatening to shut these kids off from any further help from the outside world.  In the meantime, I’m trying to strike a fair balance between confidentiality and avoiding being a party to death by silence.  I think I have a greater moral obligation to speak than to keep quiet.  “

It will go on for another 5 years before the Sunday Times runs their story on Torez, the location which could not be identified back in 2006.

The subsequent paper described as a ‘Marshall Plan for Ukraine’ conveyed how by removing children from institutions and placing them in loving family homes could result in savings in overall spending.   This was the major focus of a ‘nil overal cost’ approach to tackle “poverty, hunger, desperation and chaos”

The first impact was to see Ukraine’s government pledge the creation of 400+ rehab centres.

In his notes, Terry describes how we were up against poverful vested interests against which international development agencies would not act.   This was confirmed by USAID’s dismissal of a funding application  In response to a program for community organisations, we’d asked for £25k to create the first rehab centre.  After 3 months it was necessary to escalate, to the Senate Committee in control of USAID funding.

USAID didn’t have a budget for this group of ‘retarded children’ we were told, as if emphasising their disposability. What they and the British Council wanted a lot more, was a social enterprise initiative without the risk aspect of childcare institutions.

It is this issue, that I took up recently with immigration minister Mark Harper, pointing out to him that the consequences of organised crime cannot be tackled by a government which behaves in the same way.

The tragedy of orphanages is that people like Terry die because they tread on toes, in trying to prevent innocents being tossed into early graves.

It’s a problem that can only be resolved by collaborative effort  and solidarity and I  hope I can find this in Lumos, where government  have been found wanting.

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