"I lived for five years in an institution. The time I spent there seemed like an eternity. I felt like I was in a dark maze where I couldn't find the light."
No child should ever have to experience such darkness and sadness. But Dumitrita, the 14-year-old Moldovan child who spoke those words, grew up in a society where there was no chance for someone with disabilities like hers to attend a mainstream school. Fearing for her daughter's future, Dumitrita's mother saw no other option but to send her to a residential institution where she could learn, and at the age of 7, Dumitrita left her family.
A surprisingly common scenario around the world, it is nonetheless tragic and unnecessary. However well intended, institutionalization, especially for very young children, is toxic and often results in lasting, irreparable harm.
We now know there is a better way, and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a blueprint for action that could strengthen societies, help families care for their children, and return the world's estimated eight million institutionalized infants, young children and youth to family life.
Read the rest of the Gillian's blog published on the Huffington Post website here.