The Hrizantema Home For Mentally Disabled Children

The “Hrizantema” shelter for disabled children in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, was the epicenter of a large scandal in the country. A video recording of a caretaker hitting a mentally challenged kid caused the uproar and the surrounding discussion on the conditions in Bulgaria’s orphanages.

According to Tatyana Doneva, the woman who was recorded hitting the child, the video was made by another staff member by the name of Veselka. Doneva said that Veselka enjoyed ordering the mentally disabled kids to do certain odd actions so she can record them on video. In fact, Tatyana claims the hitting incident wasn’t taped as proof of systematic abuse of children in Hrizantema, but merely for the amusement of Veselka.

In front of bTV, Doneva accepted responsibility for hitting the child, but also claimed the slap wasn’t as severe as it looked on video saying: “I feel more humiliated than guilty”. She was part of the 8 workers fired by the Hrizantema shelter due to low qualifications.

The former manager of Hrizantema, Veselka Lazarova, who was also fired due to the scandal, claimed she wasn’t present when the video was made and claimed she would’ve prevented the incident.

The Minister of Social Policy Biser Petkov was also interviewed about the ordeal. He stated that the incident was unusual and not at all exemplary of the reality in Bulgaria’s shelters for the disabled. Petkov also promised that there will be a future program for better training the staff of such facilities.

The children will be moved from Hrizantema, as the home is now severly understaffed due to the firings.

Bulgaria and the state of its shelters

The sad reality of life is that disabled children are more likely to be abandoned by their parents. Taking care of a mentally challenged person can be incredibly difficult. Just prior to the notorious video being recorded, the child victim is said to have smeared feces all over the room and attacking her abuser.

Doneva’s accusations aren’t too far-fetched, as a child with a mental disability can indeed be more prone to accepting odd suggestions and orders from malicious people.

One of the major issues is that some of the people who are looking after children with mental disabilities are not trained to do so.


Alex Dimchev

Alex Dimchev is a writer, editor, and weapons master for

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