February 27, 2012

yes, we CAN do something!

A few days ago I shared my heart in a series of posts on children who live in institutions (or mental asylums).  If you missed those posts, you can read them here, here, and here.  I got inundated with responses.  Most people wrote to me expressing that they just had absolutely no idea that this was the reality of children who get transferred from a baby house to an institution. My inbox got flooded with requests for ways to help.

"What can we do to make a difference?" 

"Where can we get involved?"

This week I am going to share TWO amazing ways that you, the incredible readers of my blog, can do SOMETHING to help the ever-growing crisis of children who are forced to live in unfathomable conditions.  I know that so often we look at posts like this and wonder how in the world we can ever make a difference in the life of a child when we live so far away.  Sometimes the need just feels so overwhelming--and it certainly is.  But today I am here to tell you that you and I absolutely CAN make a difference...one child at a time.

The first need that I am going to share with you this week is absolutely heartbreaking, to say the least! 

Today, I am partnering with a ministry I absolutely love, and another sweet blogging mama who has such a heart for these precious children, to raise much-needed funds to bring medical supplies and desperately needed healthcare to more than 200 children who are languishing in one particular orphanage overseas.

Please read this post to the end.  The images are definitely hard to see.  But just as I said in this post...this is OUR problem! 

If we (the body of Christ) don't do something about it...who will? 

If we don't go ourselves, send people to help, donate money, give generously to causes...who will? 

The world is not commanded to care for the orphan.  We are! 

Please share this need wherever you possibly can.  We're believing for an outpouring of finances so that each and every one of these children can get the life-giving medical attention they so urgently need.  Without it, many more will die.

Together, we CAN make a difference! 

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Copied with permission from Shelley.


Katie_before photoVeronica 01

At the age of 9 years and 7 months, Katie weighed 10.5 pounds.

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When she was admitted to the hospital, testing found that she suffered from "severe protein-energy malnutrition with related severe anemia, severe osteoporosis, multiple spinal compression fractures; scurvy; atrophic skin."

What caused these conditions?

For 9 years and 7 months, Katie had lived in an orphanage in Pleven, Bulgaria, where she was systematically and purposefully starved to keep her small, weak, and unable to do anything but lie in her own urine and feces. She was fed only liquid, a mixture that contained very little sustenance. The liquid was fed to her out of a glass beer bottle that had a huge nipple on top so that the liquid could be forcibly shoved down her throat.    

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When Katie’s mama arrived at the orphanage to adopt her, she was allowed to hold Katie and feed her. However, the reality for the TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY other children that live in this orphanage is that, on a daily basis, they are all fed this liquid while lying flat on their backs in a crib. If they choke, the liquid runs down their mouths or into their lungs. They are not picked up and burped. They aren’t even sat up so that they can eat properly. The children are in such weak and poor conditions, that they don’t have the strength to sit up when they are choking.

As a result, children DIE because they drown in this liquid that is aspirated into their lungs or are suffocated by the vomit that refluxes back into their mouth that they are unable to clear from their throats themselves due to their weakened condition.


Just this week, while the steps were being taken for this blog post to be publicized, another child from the orphanage in Pleven died. 

These are not assumptions on my part, these are the cold hard FACTS of life in this orphanage and recently they have been legally documented and reported to the Bulgarian government. 

Katie is now home in the United States with her family and she’s receiving proper medical care.    


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But!  There are 240 other children in that orphanage who still need help. The Bulgarian government has been made aware of what is happening there and an investigation has been launched. Official documents have been filed and action is being taken throughout different branches of the Bulgarian government as I write this.
While the government works on the legal side of holding those in charge responsible, 
something must be done to help the children.

Prof. Lilova, head of the pediatric team at Tokuda Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria, provided medical care for Katie so that she could make it safely home to the U.S. and to a hospital here. As a result of seeing Katie’s condition, Prof. Lilova has volunteered her services FREE OF CHARGE to provide medical care for the remaining children in Pleven, starting with the ones in the worst conditions.

Three children are currently in the hospital receiving treatment from Prof. Lilova. (The faces of all orphans have been blurred to protect their identity). Here is what the testing has revealed so far:

On January 12th, 11-year-old “V” weighed 12 pounds and is 29 inches long.

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“P” is 15 and a half years old. She weighs 18 pounds and is 34 inches long.

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Both girls are suffering from a multitude of health problems as a result of the starvation and dehydration that they’ve experienced their entire lives, including evidence of multiple broken bones that were left untreated over the years. They are already suffering from osteoporosis as children due to nutritional deficits.


There are MANY more children who need medical intervention, like little “K” who is turning five in April. He lives in a room ALL ALONE because he’s been in “isolation” for two years now since he got sick as a baby. Those toys you see in his crib are because this photo was taken by the family in process to adopt him on their first visit with him.  


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Five-year-old “L” has a kidney condition that has been left untreated and her body is beginning to swell from the excess fluid build up. Her little feet are so tiny that 3- to 6-month baby shoes fall off of them.

Lina foot

I can’t show you the appalling photos of the rashes and scars that these children have from lying in their urine and feces. Many of them have their entire backside and groin areas covered in rashes and peeling skin.  One visitor to the orphanage said that the children often lay on mattresses without sheets.  If there is a sheet, it’s wet with the child’s urine and the child is forced to just lie in it all day. None of the children had blankets in their beds.


Here is an observation from one mother who visited her child there earlier this month. Her daughter is 5five years old, fits into a size-1 diaper and the 6- to 9-month clothes that were taken for her to wear are too big:    

”She cannot sit at all.  She can barely hold up her head.  She has NO MUSCLE tone at all.  She cannot even get her knees under her to try and get to her hands and knees, but instead her legs just lie out to the side.  I did see her roll over one time.  She hates the food that is fed in the bottles with the big nipples.  She would toss it and then it would be stuffed back into her mouth.  This would repeat over and over.  I tried to hold her to feed her and the staff made me lay her down flat on her back.  The food is a horrid smelling milky substance with this cottage cheese-like pieces that come out with the liquid.  They do not hold any of the children and do not burp them at all.  They pick the children up by the arm and then lay them down the same.  One boy was choking on the bottle and finally the worker picked him up and got his mouth and throat cleared.  I wonder what would have happened had I not been in the room?”

Make no mistake, the child described above is not in this condition because of some type of special need or medical condition that prevents her from doing anything. She’s in this condition due to NEGLECT and STARVATION. While the majority of the children in this orphanage have some degree of special needs, it is NOT their special needs that have put them in such dire condition.

HO
W CAN YOU HELP THE CHILDREN?????

Prof. Lilova has volunteered to travel from Sofia to Pleven to visit the children in the orphanage and to attempt to come up with some plan to provide the medical care that all of the children living there are in need of. While she can volunteer her services as a doctor, there are other expenses that are incurred in order for these children to receive medical care:    


1.) Transportation costs to get the children from Pleven to the hospital in Sofia for medical testing and treatment.

2.) Expenses to pay for an orphanage staff member to stay in Sofia while the children are hospitalized (this is required under Bulgarian law if the orphanage insists on sending someone and this orphanage has insisted that a staff member be present).

3.) Special formula and other nutritional feeding supplements so that the children can begin to be fed properly without the risk of re-feeding syndrome.

An account has been established in Bulgaria to hold donations specifically for the medical care for the children of Pleven. All expenses will be properly documented and all medical testing, findings, and treatment will be made a part of the child’s permanent medical file, should the child be adopted. There are currently at least 17 children from this orphanage who have families in various stages of the process to adopt them.

A fund has been established through Eli Project so that tax-deductible donations can be made to the Pleven medical fund. ALL money donated will be sent directly to the account that is established in Bulgaria and the funds will be used for the transportation and medical expenses related to the care of the children. 

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If you’d like to donate toward the medical care of the children, you may do so from a direct bank draft or credit card via Paypal by using the ChipIn below.

All donations are tax deductible in the U.S.



*None of the photos from this post may be copied or otherwise removed/used in any way without the expressed written consent of the blog owner. All the faces of children who are still legal orphans and residing in this orphanage have been blurred to protect their identity. The Ministry of Justice and the State Agency for Child Protection in Bulgaria are in the process of investigating what is happening to these children, now that they've been made aware. Legal channels have been followed to report the neglect and this fund is strictly to provide the much needed medical care that the children need NOW. The Bulgarian government is aware that medical care is being provided and all the medical reports will be available to them during the course of their investigation. All medical care provided with the use of these funds will be provided under the supervision of Prof. Lilova.*

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Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!  Thank you for sharing this post, for spreading the word on this urgent need, for donating, and for standing with us in prayer that every one of these precious children will receive the nourishment and medical attention they require.

Thank you for BEING the hands and feet of Jesus to a child today!


4 sweet thoughts from friends:

Sara Larkins said...

This is the page I was looking for earlier. It's hard to imagine this is happening to God's precious creations. I'm heart broken to be made aware of this but thankful so I can be mindful to keep them in prayer.

Colleen said...

Adeye, How my heart is aching for these children. I read your blog last night and my heart is so heavy. I cannot imagine this reality being that of my children.

 I emailed my pastor and friends of ours that are pastors with your website telling them to pass this on so that people are aware of these children. You are right, these children are OUR responsibility as a body of Christ. 

Laura said...

Is there significant changes in the children once loved and cared for medically?  Are there blogs or information of the hope that comes after leaving that horrible place.  I had no idea this was happening.  Thank you for putting it out there.  I want to pray and do.  

Catherine said...

Hi Matt, fostering in China is something my husband and I would love to do.  Could you tell me if you are with an organisation and which organisation you are with? many thanks, Cath.

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