Their History is OUR History

I am old enough to remember the Hiraldo Rivera expose on Wildwood State Institution.  I remember my horror at the conditions that these children and adults with disabilities were living in.  In College I wrote a term paper on deinstitutionalization of people with mental disorders and disabilities as part of one of my psychology undergrad classes.  That was in 1986.  I remember the videos of the orphanages in Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria…the dying rooms in China…


And I thought that once the word was “out” that it would be the start of a global movement to improve the condition and care of these children….I mean, isn’t that why we all collected change for UNICEF???  Surely global organizations like UNICEF would step in and help find a humane, caring solution to the orphan crisis worldwide.  And then I started hearing the stories…and then I started seeing the reality that still exists in most developing countries.  I hope some day to never see another photo of a child like this one.  A seven year old boy who is only 20 lbs from chronic malnutrition and neglect.  



A child who’s tiny calf is barely larger than an adults thumb.  

When did we stop caring?  

When did we stop trying to find a solution?

Media created the sensation and then the furor died away and we turned to the next scandal and assumed that someone..someone other than US had stepped in to take care of these children.  Maybe we donated a few dollars.  Maybe we shed a few tears, but we assumed that someone had solved the problem for these children and was making certain that no future children lived such sad and short lives.  

I am here to tell you that nobody solved the problem.  That money spent was wasted.  That children still suffer.  That each one of us that saw, that assumed, that no longer worried or wondered is to blame.  This is not ONE countries problem it is MY problem.  It is YOUR problem.  





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2 Responses to Their History is OUR History

  1. It’s so very horrifying. I remember the report on TV years ago about the children living in institutions in Greece because they had been deemed “defective” for all kinds of reasons by their families. They lived caged in cribs their whole lives.

  2. JoLynn says:

    A few months ago I was talking about this to a friend. She said she remembered Romania in the 90’s and “Thought that the issue had been fixed since they stopped talking about it.” I told her no, the country just closed down its adoption program. Ignorance is red-palmed bliss.

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