The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence
Ian Tilling

What we found out very quickly was that these children were not actually real orphans but they?ve been abandoned by their families for whatever reasons and I know they were many, many reasons. Can?t say that I understand what they did, but I can understand that there were lots of reasons why people may have been inclined or tempted to abandon their children. Can condemn it, but understand. Try and understand. So, that?s were the children were...what I was going to say, I lost my words.

We were in Plătăreşti who was in a gypsy village, a Rroma village.

So the caretakers are people who work in this village and they?re paid nothing to do nothing; that was the bottom line. And when we came in I?ve seen children physically picked up by an arm or a leg and transferred to another place. And I never saw a caretaker cuddle a child or relate to in any way. But of course we were. These were gypsy women from a gypsy village, you can imagine.

No, no training. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

But these were kids. I mean, Jesus, they won?t psychiatric cases! What happen was that the system that was running in Romania caused and made children handicapped. When you are abandoned at birth by a parent and you spend the first 3 years of your life in a cot with no stimulation, with nothing, and you?ve been bottle fed because it?s the most convenient and economic way of feeding a child and you?re not talked to, you?re not stimulated, they all became ?irecuperabili?. And the system created what it is. I wouldn?t say it?s a national disgrace or a national disaster, because are too politic; but that?s what it was. It was awful, awful! And I think what is difficult for Romanian people is to understand why other cultures has got this reaction and thinking Romanians, Jesus!, is a nation of beggars, a nation of people who abandon their children and whatever. Because the pictures that came out in the early nineties were horrific. They were! Where do you see them? I?ll show them to you. They are awful, awful images; but that?s the reality, and because the Romanian government, the Romanian authorities didn?t say yeah, we?ve got a real problem, what can we do to resolve this, they just kept barring it and say there is no problem and they were lots of international adoptions and there was ?şpaga?, it was an awful, awful time in the nineties.

The Romanian people were so concerned with surviving from day to day and to find the meat and the food to live another day, to find the warmth? Do you think the Romanian people were even remotely interested in something they were not even told about? They were not even told about all this children and whatever.

What you had was - these children were hidden away. These children in these institutions were not in the... You didn?t have number one Bucharest orphanage as you have now; that was something else, they were scatted all around the country in peasant communities, small villages and they were tacked away, nicely, quietly hidden. Now, I mean, said that, the Romanian population they were not told or were not aware of these institutions existed. Thus to give them the highest possible score of innocence; the reality is between innocence and naivety. And I suspect it was something in between, about 50 - with the law which banned abortions and contraception which came in the same time.

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