The Washington Post last week carried a deeply moving article about Izidor Ruckel, an orphan adopted from a Romanian orphanage after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Both the article and the accompanying video are gripping. They stir the heart with both the brokenness of our world and the hope that yet resides amidst it all:
Someone dims the lights, and an old video clip begins to roll. In a dank room, dozens of children with shaved heads crouch naked in puddles of urine, fight over a bucket of gruel, lie tethered to radiators. One little girl’s leg juts up at a grotesque angle; she uses her hands to scoot across the wet floor. Several kids rock back and forth or hit their heads against the wall.
Orphan no more: Adoption freed Izidor Ruckel from the hell of his Romanian orphanage. But his physical and mental scars aren’t easily escapable. He picks up a camera — the tool that hastened his rescue — to try to spare others from suffering. (Photo by Brad Horn/The Washington Post)
The footage is not easy to watch, even for those who remember seeing it on television more than two decades ago. The Berlin Wall had just fallen, and Eastern Europe’s communist dictatorships were rapidly collapsing. A few months after the execution of Romania’s leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, in 1989, Western journalists discovered a desperate underworld of abandoned children warehoused in unheated orphanages.
Around 180,000 were estimated to be living this way, and seeing them on ABC’s “20/20” spurred thousands of Americans to rush to save Romania’s forgotten children.
Read the full article, “A Lost Boy Finds His Calling.”