UK Midwife Back to Help Bulgarian Orphans*Views on BG | August 24, 2011, Wednesday // 11:48| views
by Leah Strug
A South Tyneside midwife was so moved by her trip to an Eastern European orphanage that she's heading back soon.
Reanna Martin travelled to Bulgaria in June after watching BBC Four documentary Bulgaria's Abandoned Children.
And despite the shocking images of neglected and starving disabled youngsters the programme uncovered three years ago, the 25-year-old from South Shields was left appalled at the conditions that children were living in at the orphanage she visited.
She said: "When I first arrived in Bulgaria, I was surprised at how poor the country is. With it being an EU country, I thought it would look better than it does.
"The orphanage itself looked like an old concrete prison.
"I worked mostly with seven babies, aged from three to eight months, and the youngest was dropped off at the orphanage while I was there.
"They were all physically and verbally delayed due to neglect. They had the worst nappy rash I've ever seen due to having their nappies changed just twice a day.
"I worked on helping the babies sit up, roll over, grasp objects etc, but mostly changed their nappies and soaking clothes, put nappy rash cream on their burnt skin and held them.
"Their skin was scarred from nappy rash and they were never picked up and cuddled. If you picked them up, they would cling to you tightly to stop you putting them down.
"One of the babies I worked with every day to get her sitting, and a few days before I left, she sat alone for the first time.
"It was a fantastic feeling. Unfortunately, when I go back she probably won't be able to do that any more."
Reanna will travel back in the autumn and again next year.
She said: "During my trip I debated whether what I was doing was actually bad for the children as I was giving them two weeks of love and attention, clean clothes and regular nappy changes only for them to go back to soaking wet bedding and severe neglect when I left.
"But, I really believe the moments of love and affection they got had to be worth it."
Reanna travelled to the orphanage in Pleven with The Life Foundation charity.
Following an article in the Gazette, South Shields company T&T Roofing donated ?200 to her trip.
She added: "I am so appreciative of their help, it made a big difference.
"The rest of the money came from family, friends, colleagues and my own bank account."
*The title has been change by Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency)