Pages From History

A decade on, Ceausescu’s children were abandoned and forgotten

The problem of rebuilding Romania’s notorious orphanages after conditions were revealed in the 1990s proved insurmountable. It was families that the lost children needed, says Cole Moreton

Monday 25 February 2019 14:08
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Going underground: 13-year-old Bogdan prefers to live in a Bucharest sewer than go back to the orphanage where he was beaten
Going underground: 13-year-old Bogdan prefers to live in a Bucharest sewer than go back to the orphanage where he was beaten

Ion is 10-years-old. He may have been one of those abandoned babies whose image broke hearts and opened wallets a decade ago. But nobody came to carry him away to a new life in a foreign country. The charity workers all went elsewhere, or went bust. The world moved on, found other crises to care about. But it is time to remember.

Anyone who gave generously back then will be horrified to know that there are still 160,000 children like Ion in the care of the Romanian state. Conditions are not much better now than they were before millions of pounds poured into the country.

Boys and girls are still routinely abandoned by their families, or wrongly diagnosed as mentally handicapped. Even the healthy ones suffer severe mental trauma inside the institutions where overcrowding, beatings, malnutrition and disease remain common.

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