20 May 2016

Last child leaves Bulgarian orphanage

We’re delighted to announce that the Zlatica orphanage in Bulgaria has now closed for good after the last child living there – a five-month-old baby girl – left this week. She is now living with a family who can give her the individual love and attention that all children need to thrive and be happy.

When the closure programme began, there were 40 children living in the Zlatica institution. Hope and Homes for Children, together with the local child protection authorities, has been instrumental in finding loving, family homes for the last ten children housed there, including the little girl who left this week.

Hope and Homes for Children is working closing with the Bulgarian government to help them end the institutional care of children completely but our immediate focus is on closing the large number of baby orphanages in the country.

By closing facilities like the Zlatica institution, we give children under the age of three the chance to grow up in families where they can be loved and encouraged to achieve their true potential. Many of these children have special needs – children like Dani who was born in the summer of 2015 with Down’s Syndrome. His parents did not know how to cope with his condition and so they took him to a baby institution and left him there.

It’s still the established view in Bulgaria that children like Dani are best cared for in these kinds of semi-medicalized facilities but all children, whatever their needs, do best when they have the dedicated care of a family.

In spite of much resistance, our team in Bulgaria eventually succeeded in finding the right foster family for Dani. They worked closely with his new parents to make sure they understood the special kind of love and support that Dani would need.

When he left the orphanage to join his new family, Dani was a weak and listless baby. He could not sit up or hold his head straight. Today, when our coordinator visits, she is greeted by a cheerful little boy who can stand by pulling himself up on the furniture. He uses the baby walker we have provided to move around the house and wave to his visitors.

Dani likes to sing and he is beginning to say a few words. Left in the orphanage, without the love and encouragement that his new parents have provided, it’s unlikely that Dani would ever have made this kind of progress.

By 2017, Hope and Homes for Children aims to close a further eight baby institutions in Bulgaria and to have stopped 1,200 children from entering the institutional care system by providing vulnerable families with the support they need to stay together. By 2019, we plan to have closed the last ten remaining institutions for babies in Bulgaria.

Hope and Homes for Children began work in Bulgaria in 2009 at the invitation of the Bulgarian government and we will continue to work closely with the authorities at every level to help them achieve their ultimate goal of eradicating the institutional care of all children for good.