Past Still Haunts Bulgaria’s Disabled Children

Maria Milkova Sofia, Botevgrad, Byala, Apeldoorn

Bulgaria has closed the crowded, isolated institutions that once housed its disabled children, but is still a long way from providing the care they need.

Tsonka and Tenyo Tenevi with their daughter Teodora, six years after they were reunited under a programme to move disabled children out of isolated state institutions. Photo: Maria Milkova.

The residential home was new, the rooms clean and airy. But the lift to the second-floor bedrooms had not been working for months, so the children spent nights sleeping in their wheelchairs or on the sofa.

There were toys, too, but it was the television on the wall that captivated the children, while at the table, an elderly carer briefly, clumsily, held a child by the hair to keep her head steady as she fed her.

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