The Real Dumping Ground My Life


The Real Dumping Ground

Actor Ruben, who plays Finn in The Dumping Ground, goes to Moldova to find out what life is like there for children who are born with disabilities.


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Transcript


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Hi, I'm Ruben. A hero. A superhero!

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I'm 17 years old.

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And a really great actor.

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I don't need a permit! This is my room, too!

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And I also happen to have Down's syndrome.

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Since being in The Dumping Ground,

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I've been thinking, I am really lucky.

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I was born in a country that supports disabled people.

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What would happen to me if I was born somewhere else?

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I'm going to find out what my life would be like

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if I lived in Europe's poorest country, Moldova.

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It's quite an adventure...

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-Pickled cabbage?!

-It's traditional.

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..and I know it's going to be hard...

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-TRANSLATION:

-Every night before going to bed, I was crying.

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Money is a big problem.

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..and sometimes it's made me sad.

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Do you miss your mum and dad?

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He said yes, so, he was abandoned.

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What would life be like for me if I had been born in Moldova...

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I don't... You, um, leave me behind.

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..and got sent to the real Dumping Ground?

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I'm going to Moldova tomorrow.

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I am going to see the cities,

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and also not very nice food, like cabbage or summat.

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I'm packing my tartan trousers. Oh, yes!

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I am excited for meeting children with disabilities like me.

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These are my lucky pants.

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Yeah!

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-Mum! Where's my passport?

-Don't worry, Rubes, here it is.

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Think we're good, man.

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I'm ready to go!

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I made it to Moldova!

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But I've not come alone. My mum's here.

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Get off!

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This is Natalya.

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Natalya is from a charity.

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They have tried to change how disabled children are treated

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all over the world.

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This is my crew.

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They film everything I do.

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Get back to work! Come on!

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The first place I'm going to is somewhere that Natalya has told me

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is just like The Dumping Ground.

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It's somewhere here, in Moldova's capital city, Chisinau.

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But where?

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Did you know, the Moldovan currency is the leu?

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More?

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They also have some very strange food here.

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Pickled cabbage?!

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-It's traditional.

-See that?

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Mmm, Moldovan food. SHE LAUGHS

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Hold on, I think I'm getting distracted!

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The charity set up this group home,

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and I'm here to see some of the children who live here.

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Let's go and meet them!

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-Please meet Daniel.

-HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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-If you are interested, he can show you around.

-Yes, please.

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OK, let's follow him.

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HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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So, they play games on computer and watch TV.

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-So, this is Daniel's room.

-Nice.

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Who's he, on the photo? HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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Some of the children from here, they went to a park, have a picnic.

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So this is the bedroom of Daniel's sister, Cesara.

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Daniel's sister has a disability,

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but everyone lives here together, disabled and non-disabled.

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-Do you want to meet Daniel's sister?

-Yeah, of course.

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Perhaps things aren't so bad here after all.

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Meet Cesara.

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She's Daniel's sister.

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-HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

-Do you want to help prepare pizza?

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Yeah.

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They make their pizza a little differently.

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Mayonnaise on the pizza?! Urgh! We don't do that at home.

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Like me, Cesara has a learning disability.

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Do you do lots of things with your sister?

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HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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So, he likes to take care of his sister, to be protective,

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to do different kinds of things together.

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SHE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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When you are at your home, what do you like to eat?

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I love to eat some Indian food like onion bhajis, poppadoms,

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all that stuff.

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Fantastic.

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Can you tell me why Daniel and Cesara are here?

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Sadly, some time ago, their mother died.

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So it's a very sensitive topic for them,

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they don't want to talk about it.

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-It makes them feel sad.

-I understand that.

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Cesara, do you like it here?

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SHE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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Yes, she likes living here.

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What's the best thing? SHE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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Everything, she likes everything.

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It seems so nice here.

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I really like it, but just as I am getting ready to leave,

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Daniel asks if he can talk to me outside, away from his sister,

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and he tells me this wasn't the first place

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they lived after their mum died.

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HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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He's older than his sister by five years,

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and when he got to the institution, his sister had some difficulties.

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She was brought to another institution,

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for children with disabilities.

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He used to visit his sister in the other institution

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and he had a lot of worries about his sister,

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he was thinking if she is doing fine, nobody is hitting her.

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He thought it was not a good place for his sister to be.

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So you got hit? HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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In the institution there was a special room for doing homework

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for all the children.

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He was trying to do his homework in his bedroom

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and the staff member was mad about it,

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-and just hit him.

-I'm sorry, Daniel.

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What's it like being here? HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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Since she's here, together with Daniel, she's much better.

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When Daniel told me about his orphanage, I was really shocked.

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It made me wonder if any other kids went to the orphanage,

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and how did the children end up there?

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Today, I'm here to meet someone called Victoria.

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She has a learning disability like me.

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She lived a long time in an institution,

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and I want to know what that was like for her.

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But she lives in a really small village where there's no address.

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Where's Victoria?

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SHE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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Where's Victoria?

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SHE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE

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Where's Victoria?

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Phew! I've found her house.

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Hi!

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-Hi.

-Hi.

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I will teach you my special handshake.

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Do that, and then change over...

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..and then it's fist bump...

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..and then it's like that.

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Speedy up.

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-TRANSLATION:

-Victoria, you need to finish your chores.

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Ruben, will you help me?

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I do chores at home. This should be easy.

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First up, we need to feed the chickens.

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They are hungry.

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OK, my chores aren't like this!

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-Am I doing it right?

-Da.

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Then, because Victoria doesn't have water at her house,

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we have to get some from the well.

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-Maybe you want to try?

-Yeah.

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I didn't realise anyone used wells any more.

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-Is it hard?

-Yeah, it is hard.

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-Do you do this every day? TRANSLATION:

-Yep, almost.

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Victoria seems to be doing really well at home.

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So why was she sent away?

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Why were you in the institution?

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THEY SPEAK OWN LANGUAGE

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-TRANSLATION:

-When I was nine, I was taken there.

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I have speech and communication difficulties,

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and my school wasn't ready to accept children with disabilities.

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What was it like?

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It's hard to live in an institution, because you miss your parents

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and your friends.

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And when I was there, I didn't have any friends.

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I was not allowed to leave. I lived there for six years.

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SHE SIGHS

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How did your mum feel about you going?

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-TRANSLATION:

-We could go and ask her ourselves.

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-Shall we bring the water to your mum, then?

-Yeah.

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Oh, phew!

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Oh!

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Good job Victoria's here to carry most of the weight.

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How did you feel when Victoria went to the institution?

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-TRANSLATION:

-I missed her very much.

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I was used to having all my children here.

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And when Victoria left, I felt that someone very important was missing.

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It's not normal to separate children from their parents.

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Do you think it was the right decision?

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It wasn't the right thing to do,

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but we had no choice because of her disability.

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Every evening sitting at the table, Victoria wasn't there,

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it was wrong.

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Every night before going to bed, I was crying.

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It was a hard time.

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You need to go now, you'll be late for work.

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Whoa! Have you got a job?

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-TRANSLATION:

-Yes, I work at the local school

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helping other children with special needs.

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-Would you like to walk with me?

-Yes, I do.

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It was so sad when Victoria went to her orphanage.

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Her mum thought she was doing the right thing.

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It was really difficult.

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But it's so nice to see her doing well now.

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Thank you for meeting me and telling me your story.

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Thank you for coming.

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-Bye!

-Bye!

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Everyone's talking about these places.

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These institutions.

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I think I need to go to see them for myself.

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Well, you know, Ruben, if you'd like to see such a place,

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you can go tomorrow. You might find this experience very sad.

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-I think I'm ready.

-OK, then we'll do it.

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This is an orphanage,

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just like where Victoria, Daniel and Cesara were sent.

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Not many people have been able to see inside it,

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but I've been given permission.

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Natalya brought me here,

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but I'm a bit worried it might not be very nice in there.

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So I've brought my mum along. Come on.

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The institution she's brought me to

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is set up only for boys with a disability.

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Let's meet the children.

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These are the youngest.

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Hello.

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They've been expecting guests.

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I'm Ruben.

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I've realised that during my whole time in Moldova,

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I haven't seen anyone with a severe disability anywhere.

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They don't get much physical contact.

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So when someone like me or my mum touches their face,

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it makes them really happy.

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These boys are the lucky ones who get to come out of their cots.

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Let's meet Mihai. He's very friendly and smiling.

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-Salut.

-Salut.

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See, he's smiling. Salut!

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Mihai doesn't have a wheelchair like the other boys,

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so he has to stay in the cot all day.

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Is this where he sleeps?

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No, this room is like a living room

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where they have activities or watch TV,

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but there is another room with their beds.

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Can we see it?

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Yes, I think we can.

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It's horrible to think that these boys will be in this room

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or in their bedroom every single day of their lives.

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It's this way.

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This is the bedroom where boys sleep.

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It somehow looks typical for institutions

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because there are several beds in one room.

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Why are they all here?

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So, most of the children were abandoned at birth.

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This is a huge burden probably for the family.

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It's hard to hear disabled children like me

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being thought of as a burden.

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Is there anyone like me here?

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Yes, there are boys like you here. We can go and meet them if you like.

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-Yeah.

-OK, let's go.

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The longer I'm here, the sadder I feel.

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Salut.

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-Salut.

-So let's meet some of the boys here.

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And it seems they have some activities today.

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I couldn't believe he was just colouring in.

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At my school, I learn maths, English, science.

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Meet Ruben.

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I hadn't seen anyone with Down's syndrome.

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I was so surprised they were lumped together in the orphanage.

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Ruben, come and meet Costa.

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Let's see him. Let's say hello.

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-Costa said hello. Noroc.

-Noroc.

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-I like your hair.

-He says thank you.

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Who does his hair reminded me of?

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He's building a home.

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With these colourful pieces.

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-Do you like it here?

-Da.

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He said yes.

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Can you show me your bedroom?

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Da.

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OK.

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This way. Let's follow Costa.

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Everywhere here feels so dark.

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Ruben, this is Costa's bed.

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-Do you like your bedroom?

-Da.

-He said yes.

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Even at the Dumping Ground, Finn has his own bedroom.

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Costa has to share his with nine other boys.

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Who's that on your bed?

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-This is a nice toy.

-Da.

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Da. Yeah.

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Do you miss your mum and dad?

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Da.

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He said yes. So he was abandoned.

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Do you have any other toys that is just yours?

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-Da.

-He says yes.

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Where are they?

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They have more toys in their classroom. He can show you.

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This is his classroom. Over there he's going to show you his book.

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-See?

-Cool.

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It seems like the only toy Costa has to himself is his teddy.

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Everything else is kept in the classrooms and used by everyone.

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What are you going to do when you grow up?

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He said no, I don't think he has thought about this.

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Are you happy?

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Da.

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He said yes.

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I feel sad for these boys.

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So I want to find out why it has to be like this.

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This is Diana, the head of this institution.

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Why don't the children have their own bedrooms?

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-TRANSLATION:

-Unfortunately these are the conditions

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our country can offer at this stage.

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Is there enough money?

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Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

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The financial resources available in our country

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are not directed primarily to children of disabilities.

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It doesn't seem fair that the money is the only thing

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that is keeping these boys in such a bad place.

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If you'd have been born in Moldova, OK,

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chances are you'd have ended up in this institution.

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How do you think that would have been?

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Er...

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I don't... I don't...

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..you...leave me...

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..um, leave me behind.

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We're lucky, aren't we, Rubes?

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Yes, we're so lucky because I'm born in the UK.

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-Yeah, you are lucky to be born in the UK, for sure.

-Yeah.

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-Shall we go back to the hotel?

-Yeah.

-Come on, then.

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As night falls, I'm still thinking about the boys in the dormitory.

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So I've got you a question.

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Do you wear socks when you're sleeping in your bed?

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I do.

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Because...

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..my nan always says to me...

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..if you wear socks in your bed...

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..you get good dreams.

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And I need that to come true tonight.

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Yeah.

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That is a doucher yesterday.

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It's so hard seeing that.

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It's so sad. Money is a big problem.

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I wondered what it would be like if...

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..if, if, if...

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..if there was enough money for people with disabilities.

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Natalya has one more place for me to visit.

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This school has been funded through a charity

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and all children learn together.

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We have support teachers, they have different kinds of activities

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and also they can go to classes with their peers.

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And I've really got into the spirit of things.

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This place is cool. How long have you been here?

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This is his first year in this school.

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Do you like it here?

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He made some friends, he likes to go to classes

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-and also he likes to get grades for his lessons.

-Oh, cool.

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What do you want to do when you grow up?

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He wants to become a policeman.

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Are the police in wheelchairs?

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-He hasn't seen any policeman in a wheelchair.

-You can be the first.

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Thank you.

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Great work, Mihai.

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So, Ruben, he wants to go to his Russian classes.

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-Do you want to join them?

-Russian? Yes, of course.

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This school reminded me of my school in the UK,

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where disabled and non-disabled kids all learn together.

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Would you like to learn a couple of Russian words? I can teach you.

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-Yes, please.

-OK, so, privet is hi.

0:22:100:22:14

-Privet.

-Wow. That's really great.

0:22:140:22:18

Love is liubot.

0:22:190:22:20

-Liubot.

-Oh, wow! Great.

0:22:200:22:23

Do you like Mihai here?

0:22:230:22:26

Yes, of course, he's a really great student.

0:22:260:22:28

And a really great friend.

0:22:280:22:30

Just like at my school, the disabled kids sometimes learn together

0:22:300:22:36

and sometimes learn with other non-disabled kids,

0:22:360:22:40

depending on their needs.

0:22:400:22:42

-We have the cake ready. We can try it.

-Great!

0:22:450:22:48

Mmm, gorgeous!

0:22:500:22:53

Thank you for showing me your school.

0:22:550:22:57

I had so much fun at the school.

0:23:090:23:12

I laughed so much.

0:23:120:23:14

I couldn't stop thinking about Costa in the orphanage.

0:23:160:23:19

I want to do something for them.

0:23:190:23:20

This gave me a good idea.

0:23:200:23:23

I know I couldn't change their situation,

0:23:240:23:28

but I want to do something.

0:23:280:23:30

-OK, Rubes, are we ready to play some games?

-Yeah.

0:23:300:23:33

So, we've got some bubbles, balloons. We've got a space blanket.

0:23:330:23:38

and we've got a parachute.

0:23:380:23:41

I'm going to give the parachute to Costa so he can keep it.

0:23:410:23:45

Let's have some fun.

0:23:450:23:47

As the kids arrive, we get stuck into playing straight away.

0:23:510:23:55

It's so great to see everyone so happy.

0:23:570:24:00

Even the simplest things are making these boys smile.

0:24:000:24:04

I think I'm going to find this game very funny.

0:24:060:24:09

After giving Costa the parachute,

0:24:090:24:11

he's keen to play with it with his friends.

0:24:110:24:15

So, we have to get these guys into the middle of the parachute

0:24:150:24:19

to go up and down.

0:24:190:24:21

Unu, doi, trei...

0:24:210:24:24

Unu...trei!

0:24:500:24:53

Our time to leave comes all too quickly.

0:25:030:25:06

And saying goodbye is hard.

0:25:060:25:08

Unu, doi...

0:25:160:25:19

..trei.

0:25:190:25:20

Come here, Costa.

0:25:220:25:24

I did like Moldova and it was great to see the school.

0:25:350:25:41

But I couldn't stop thinking about the children in the orphanage.

0:25:430:25:47

The trip has made me want to see

0:25:470:25:51

what I can do to help children in orphanages.

0:25:510:25:55

I'm back from Moldova, now I'm in London.

0:25:580:26:01

I am going to talk to important people

0:26:010:26:05

about what it's like in Moldova for people with disabilities.

0:26:050:26:11

But first, I'm off to meet Evanna Lynch,

0:26:110:26:16

who played Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter.

0:26:160:26:20

She is an ambassador for Lumos.

0:26:200:26:25

-Hi, Evanna.

-Hi, Ruben.

-I've been to Moldova.

0:26:270:26:30

It's great that you've seen some of the things that are changing there.

0:26:300:26:33

I've heard that the conditions in these orphanages are not very good.

0:26:330:26:36

The places are dark and it's old.

0:26:360:26:40

I met a boy called Costa.

0:26:400:26:42

They have no toys and they are shut away, children like me.

0:26:420:26:46

I mean, thank you for sharing that, Ruben, I'm really glad that

0:26:460:26:49

you're helping educate people on what's happening in Moldova.

0:26:490:26:52

So, Lumos is working to have no more orphanages by 2050.

0:26:520:26:56

-Yes! No more orphanages!

-Cool.

0:26:560:26:59

So, we are now going to talk to more people about this work,

0:26:590:27:02

-so shall we go and do that?

-Yeah.

-Let's go.

0:27:020:27:04

-Hi.

-Hi.

0:27:070:27:09

Hi.

0:27:140:27:16

So, I have been talking to these important people.

0:27:200:27:25

They talked to me and said

0:27:250:27:27

they would keep helping children in Moldova.

0:27:270:27:32

These people have left a big impression on me.

0:27:330:27:37

I just want them to have the same chances in life that I've had.

0:27:370:27:43

So I am going to fight for their rights every chance I get.

0:27:430:27:50

Ruben has always known that he's a little different to other children, but he definitely doesn't let that stop him doing anything. At 16, Ruben is a successful actor (he plays Finn in the Dumping Ground) and an accomplished sports person. He has high hopes for the future.

But eight million children across the world with disabilities like him live in institutions away from their families simply because of their disability. Ruben cannot imagine being taken away from his family - the conditions they're living in are a lot worse than Finn's in The Dumping Ground. He's devastated at the thought of these children being forced to live in orphanages.

We follow Ruben as he heads off to Moldova to see the situation for himself. Ruben's journey takes him to meet Daniel, Victoria and Cesara who spent their formative years in an orphanage. Hearing about how horrible they were, Ruben plucks up the courage to go and see one for himself. On his arrival at the orphanage, Ruben meets Costa, a boy with Down's syndrome who was abandoned by his parents and is now living in the orphanage for boys. Although Ruben sees that there is some progress in Moldova with the opening of inclusive schools and group homes, he leaves Moldova firmly believing that more needs to be done to help these children.


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