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TEDxBG 2010: Iva Boneva

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Hello, my name is Iva Boneva. I work at a center for incorporating education and I am a happy person. I am blessed with wonderful friends, and two magnificent children, a wonderful family and a job that I have created for myself, in some sense, which I love and which gives me an incredible pleasure for years, many years already. During the recent years though, some of the recent years, I am starting to lose courage, I am starting to lose confidence and somehow I am starting to hesitate if what I do makes any sense at all. That is why I sincerely hope that today, together with you, I will have the chance to find this courage. Today I will try... I will not try but I will do it today - I will answer the question how much does it cost to forget and I will speak mainly of the children in Bulgaria who I think are in the most vulnerable position and whom I think we have forgotten. Us all. I said that I really love my job a lot, so to show you the best part of it we have prepared together with my friend Paul Cliff about 4 minutes of presentation of the dreams and wishes of a big group of children and now I will invite you to watch it with me. I wish for my world... To be a president of everything in the world! To become a fashion designer. To go to Texas. To have everything in the world. To become an architect and to build an impossible castle. That everything would be pink, I had a laptop and all of our family be happy together. To fly with nothing. I wish to be a mermaid, a musketesse and a fairy. To be a dragon. To be a lawyer. I wish to become � traveler. To become a little Miss World! To become a fairy enchantress. I want to fly! I want to keep the world clean of junk. And drugs. I wish that there are no drugs and we are alive and well. A mathematician. To go to England and look around, and I also dream to go to Sofia and Burgas. To go to Great Britain! To meet a king cobra, to look around the world. A shopkeeper, a singer. To become an animal trainer and a multi-billionaire. Skier, prosecutor. To have a lot of money and donate half of it for a good cause. To look around the entire space, to read the entire library. To find a lot of friends. To donate money. My team to be champion of the world. To become the most excellent student. To become an English teacher, researcher, surviving outdoors. To fly wherever I wish. To have a Ferrari, a Lamborghini or a Porsche. All of the world to be immortal. That the world would be nice and there would be nice things. My sister to be born alive and well, and most of all to go to Egypt. To create a formula which gives strength. To become famous. To go back in time. I wish all the people who live to be alive and well, and that I could speak all the languages. To become a ninja and a sumo fighter. To become a veterinarian and to have a big, big house full of dogs. A holiday at the seaside. A teacher about man and society. To be the most famous painter, to study everything scientifically and that mommy would be by my side. Everyone to live for as long as they wish and be happy, and that the animals would understand me. I wish to become a football player! I wish that the people were gormiti. To write very nicely. To be the boss of Sin City. Milk, biscuits and a train. To have a brother. Shopkeeper. Photography Paul Cliff Music Mathew Harris It is very nice. I love to be with the kids because their dreams can be very small and infinitely big, and actually it is also the way their world is. While filming all of these children, I thought of an event from almost 15 years ago, when I was a young journalist and we went to a home for children. A boy, 9 years old like these kids, approached me and asked me what my name was, where did I work, very businesslike and then he withdrew. Two days later I received a letter at the editorial office which read: "Dear Iva Boneva, Please publish my short announcement." It was written this way, very neatly, in a frame and it read: 91 00:06:57,951 --> 00:07:02,841 the name is different, of course... "Orlin Vasilev, 10 years old, excellent student, very good manners, is looking for a mom and a dad." I did not publish it, and now Orlin is already much older and I hope that he has created the family he is looking for and that it is a happy family. Anyway, I want to tell you about these children for whom in this short revew that we watched a little while ago, I had just left space for these empty slides where there were no children, there were supposed to be those children who are not among us. <i>toothbrushes</i> I want to tell you how many are they. They are 7262 children placed in 140 institutions. Except for them, there are also 8133 children who are placed in facilities of boarding-school type. In case you don�t know, those are socially-pedagogical boarding schools (SPBS), instructive boarding schools (IBS), schools for disabled children, healthcare schools. SPBS and IBS are schools correcting the behavior of children with antisocial behavior; children over 8 years of age are admitted there. Those are 8133 kids who theoretically should be able to go home for weekends and holidays but practically it doesn�t happen because those boarding schools are far from towns and villages. In most cases they are in villages at the borders of the country, in mountains, forests and their parents are not able to fetch them, or they don�t want to. So these kids also live without parents, without family. The total is 15409 children who are growing without parents currently. The statistics is from 2008but things have not improved since and they grow in our country. 15409 children, if you ask me, is a hell of a lot. First of all, we don�t have so many children in the country � there are 1300000. This is 1.2%, very roughly. 15409 children, if they try to enter this room at the moment, they cannot. They would have to fill every space in the front, and still they can�t. If you have been to a concert recently, imagine what part of the audience is 15409 children. I can tell you that they would fill the entire Maria Louisa Boulevard but the only metaphor that seems adequate especially for these kids of ours is that they are all in a sack Boogeyman came and put them inside. He came and took them long ago. They grow in this sack, we can�t see them because they are out there but they also cannot see us because they grow in a sack and they don�t know if there�s anything else beyond it. They don�t know that there is such a world like ours. I think that there isn�t any better metaphor than Bogeyman�s sack and it also seems to me that I and in some way it�s our fault, of all Bulgarian citizens. If you ask me if it really is this bad � they ask me about that very often, the only thing I can say � and it�s a personal opinion, I don�t engage anyone with it, is that it�s much worse than the worst things ever. Even when the basic needs of the children are covered, which is not the case generally, when they have enough to eat, a place to sleep, a roof over their heads, they have clothes... I want to say in brackets that they do not have their own toothbrushes or their own shoes, their own bed, their own underwear or their own cabinet, this is not the case at the institutions - they grow in the greatest misery possible. Quoting Mother Theresa, "There is no greater misery than being unloved, unwanted and outcast." It is what those kids grow in. I don�t want to illustrate it with any such dramatic things, because I suppose you have all seen the film about Mogilino, or other British or German films about our children, but just imagine � in a home called Home for Medico-Social Child Care - this is the home for 0 to 3, with hospital status, before they were called "Mother and Baby Home", but because of the extremely bad irony of the name it was changed - you enter a home like that, and there, in a big room, are 100 babies. 100 babies lying in their little beds and looking at the ceiling. And at first you cannot tell what bothers you. I don�t know how many of you have ever been in a room with more than one baby but when you enter this room, there is deafening silence. And this is so weird because it takes quite a long time to know - for me, maybe you would know faster - that these babies, for their few months of life have learned that there�s no use in crying. Cause no one would ever come to hold them, to comfort them. No one would ever come to hold them, to comfort them, to teach them silly baby games and words, to know different colors and shapes, and even walk, until they are 3, and longer. And without saying that this is the general case, I have seen patient�s files very often, patient�s files of children after the age of 3, who are in a home for children with severe disabilities. And there the record starts like this � sometimes, not always: Child, born 3 kg, 50 cm, N.D. � no defects. Doctor signature. Then, somewhere a bit later, chronic constipation appears: Chronic constipation. Doctor signature. Almost immediately AVI appears � acute viral infection - and so things begin to take turns for the child - chronic constipation, AVI, chronic constipation, AVI. About 3 years of age, for a very big part of the children, with these patient�s files, who haven�t had the luck to be taken out of the home from 0 to 3, you can see medical diagnosis, again with doctor signature and stamp: "General mental and physical retardation." It has occurred because no one has stimulated the child. This, in most countries as well as the country that I want to live in, would be a crime. The law term could be culpable negligence, and I think it is a crime. I will not say �murder� because there�s no need, but it is taking a large number of children away, their future, their childhood and the life they would have. So if there�s one thing I have to ask you today and one thing I will share with you - <i>STOP DONATING FOR CHILD INSTITUTIONS</i> it is � stop donating for child institutions. Stop donating for child institutions for two main reasons - the first is that the money do not get there. If they do get there, they are enough for clothes, food � in the best case scenario. They are not enough for well prepared experts who work somewhere at the Greek or Turkish border with these children. They are not enough for these kids to be loved and brought up. The homes are situated most commonly in villages. Half of the village works at the home, the other half is supported by donations. And the second reason why I want to ask you to stop donating for the child institutions - because this buys us the right to forget. I told you in the beginning that I will try to answer the question how much does it cost to forget. The answer is simple � it costs nothing. It is entirely free. It is very cheap to forget that there are such children and that at the moment when we are here, they are out there. And they will continue to be there like this, like they have been for 20 years. Already. I am not talking about before. To go on... These are... I continue with the requests. These are the state institutions responsible in our country for the well-being of children, of all children, including those in the homes. It is not a matter of money � there is a lot of money. Just last year, over 82 million public money, i.e. yours and mine, were the state subsidy for the child care homes for these 7622 children. Two or three times more are the money from donations, European funds, World Bank and so on. An incredible total amount. There is a lack of well prepared social workers, to aid the bringing of the children out, well prepared experts and adoptive parents. The Ministry of labor and social policy has promised that they would shut down 10 homes for children with disabilities. I think that an e-mail a month, to each one of these agencies, just to see what happens, are they moving the children, where will these children go, would they just be moved to another home, it would be much more useful than any donations. A lot of things could be done. I will tell you very shortly, but they are 4 main things that work all over the world � they work in Romania, they work in Greece, they work everywhere, in Turkey and I don�t see why they would not work here. The first logical thing is prevention. About 13 and more, almost 14% of all children are abandoned as babies. They are abandoned by single mothers, in maternity hospitals, who have no support. They feel just as insignificant, repudiated and unwanted with their baby as will later feel their children. If in every maternity hospital there is a social worker who would aid the mother, mentally and financially, sometimes it takes just a bit. It is scientifically proven that the first two weeks are enough so that an attachment is created between a mother and a baby so that she could not abandon him/her later. Sometimes it only takes as little as painting the room where the baby would be, several bags of diapers, someone close, a social worker she could talk to. Apparently, the second thing is adoption. It cannot always happen but everyone, according to the Bulgarian laws, every mentally healthy person, single or in a couple, any kind of couple, could adopt a child. I think the only condition is that this person wants to help the child, not him/herself. Children are not a crutch which would save us from loneliness, there has to be another wish. The third thing that is the most working thing in the world is foster care. Only in Bulgaria it does not work very well at the moment, I don�t know why. The most common question I get when talking of foster care is: "How am I supposed to take care of the kid and then I have to leave him/her or bring him/her back?" That�s not how it is. First of all, it happens very seldom, especially in Bulgaria, it has not even happened yet, and second - it is usually a question asked by people who actually have no real intention to become foster parents. One of the foster mothers that we met answered it this way: "How is that - leave the kid? I am not losing him/her. If he/she has got to go live with his/her parents, what could be better than this � I haven�t lost him/her in any way. There are so much more kids who need help." And the fourth and last, very simple thing, is - if there are children for whom it is too late, and unfortunately there are such children, let them not live in those big, ugly, horrible, cold homes, which are separated from us and from the city. Let them live in the so-called small, group homes, which are not just new, more photogenic little houses, that the Ministry of labor and regional development has money for, but apartments, in Sofia, in Stara Zagora, in Plovdiv, in Varna, where 5 or 6 children live, they have their own desk, cabinet, they go to school, to kindergarten and five grown-ups live with them. There are people. At the moment there are people in the system. There are funds. Somehow only our wish is missing. This... Because some of the kids that we gathered their wishes from, they drew them for us hoping that they would happen if they were also drawn, one of the children had this wish: "A special jeep which gathers the kids who have no mothers, fathers and brothers and drives them to the people who have no kids." These over there, in this special jeep, are children. And to make it clearer so that I don�t get confused, the child wrote: "So that there are no lonely children." This is my wish. If they ask me about my wish. And because I have probably extended my time, the only thing I want to tell you in conclusion is, in fact, don�t let anyone convince you that it�s complicated, because it�s not. And there are very few things in this world which are complicated. It is my conviction. To make a child happy is not one of them. A lot of... All of our jobs are important, a lot of things in our daily life are not a matter of life and death � they are very important but not vital. For these 15409 children, our action or lack of action is a matter of life. Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 20 minutes and 35 seconds
Country: Bulgaria
Language: Bulgarian
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxBG
Director: TEDxBG
Views: 274
Posted by: tedxbg on Jan 25, 2010

Iva Boneva tells the sad story of Bulgaria's forgotten children.

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