ABC's "20/20" tonight offers some of the most dramatic and moving pictures of human suffering that television has ever shown.
Correspondent Tom Jarriel and producer Janice Tomlin report on the unimaginable suffering of orphans in Romania whom the government has deemed "unsalvageable." With them on their journey to these medieval warehouses of human misery (generously called orphanages) is Dr. Barbara Bascom, a pediatrician from Baltimore who sold her home here to work full time helping the orphans. (She was profiled in The Sun earlier this year.)
Tonight's report, at 10 on WJZ-TV (Channel 13), is a follow-up to a report Jarriel did in April, which drew 25,000 calls and letters in response. The children in that report did not suffer like the "unsalvageable" ones focused upon tonight. Jarriel makes the comparison between these pictures and photographs of Nazi death camp survivors. But his words are not necessary. The first emaciated child you see on the verge of death, the first wail you hear when that child opens his mouth, will sear your heart and burn its way into your brain forever. The pictures of children caged, insects crawling over children lying in feces and urine, children with their bodies hopelessly misshapen by neglect will surely be too painful an experience for some viewers.
The final image and sounds of a blind orphan girl singing outside one of these Romanian hellholes is poetic -- hopelessly and tragically poetic.