As I type, it feels as if all eyes are firmly on the England football team as the hope to either draw or win with Ukraine so that they can qualify from group D (I think I've got that one right...?). Football, in my humble opinion, really brings everyone together, it's quite sweet really that we remain so optimistic. Every time there is an England game it feels as if the whole of the nation is sat there with their fingers crossed, full of hope that we have a chance of getting through. This faith in eleven men charging around after a ball is really lovely, I mean, how many people get that much belief in them after decades of not really winning much?
The old Eastern bloc rarely gets our attention, I mean, so we're all up for Euro 2012, but how often do we usually pay attention to things that happen over there? Last night, BBC4 forced viewers to pay attention to life in Ukraine in an exceptionally well made, if often disturbing documentary highlighting issues in their care system. 'Ukraine's Forgotten Children' shows the horrific treatment of children signed over to a state which fails to adequately support them. There are around 88,000 children who have been abandoned by their parents to institutions where malnourishment, abuse and general inadequate support is commonplace and every orphanage has a graveyard attached.
Even worse, is that this horrendous treatment of children is not limited to the Ukraine. Following the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu, the last brutal leader of Communist Romania the plight of tens of thousands of institutionalized children shocked the world. The outlaw of abortion and birth control led to many families giving birth to children they simply could not support, they then entrusted them to a state system which was totally unequipped to care for them. Over crowding, lack of medical equipment, too few, poorly trained staff and primitive methods of dealing with special needs children are shocking and it is not surprise that their de-institutionalization is a condition that must be met before Romania is allowed to join the EU.
Although not fast enough, there is a decline in the number of children trapped in the Romanian care system, yet according to UNICEF, the amount of institutionalized children in Ukraine has doubled in the past decade. This is in the country which has splashed out nine billion pounds on improving infrastructure in preparation for co hosting Euro 2012, but this was spent in the major cities and thus putting those already at the bottom in an even worst position.
It's at times graphic and uncomfortable to watch, but I would definitely recommend that in between the all important football matches, everyone has a glance at this.