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Together We Stared at the Moon


Together We Stared at the Moon

An estimated 5.4 million children still live in institutions across the world. Deinstitutionalisation involves strengthening and developing services to prevent children being separated from families. It involves closing down institutions; including children in society and in their communities; and giving them their right to a family. This film is about the people who know that there is an alternative to institutional care, and who are working hard to make it happen. These are their stories, in their own words.

Directed, produced, and edited by Niamh Heery (Swansong Films), who worked closely with our Bulgaria and Colombia offices to gather footage from two real institutions in very different countries, Together We Stared at the Moon highlights the urgent issue of institutionalisation and the tireless and diverse work taking place to end the practice. 

“What struck me as I was accepted into these very different worlds was the practitioners' extremely personal dedication to their job. When asked about DI, any practitioner in Bulgaria or Colombia will say that love is the most important factor in the whole process. The individuality of the child and the need for their voice to be heard were something we discussed a lot, not because it's a line from a policy document, but because these people know and love each child as a unique human being and know the importance of their voice in this process. This common dedication is an invisible thread that ties the two places together across the globe in this film. The challenges each team face are very different, showing us how varied the DI experience can be, but there is always the same question driving these hard working people: what is best for the child?”

- Filmmaker Niamh Heery

About this Project

In 2016-17, Lumos took part in a two-year project in partnership with The Atlantic PhilanthropiesThe UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, and The UNESCO Chair programme at Pennsylvania State University. Together, our aim was to share knowledge and learning from countries that are in the process of transforming their systems of care and support for vulnerable children, and to bring about much-needed change and understanding to attitudes around institutions and orphanages. This documentary was created as part of this ongoing project.