The 2011 movie Oranges and Sunshine , by English filmmaker Jim Loach depicts a tragic and scandalous story that took place starting in 1947, when English children were deported from their home country, England, to Australia, where they had neither family nor ties. The British government had taken the children, boys and girls, from shelter homes to send them thousands of miles away, to other orphanages, for the simple reason that it was cheaper to care for them overseas than in England.
The title refers to something that was told to the kids when they were taken: "You will have oranges for breakfast, go to school on a horse, and there will be sunshine all the time."
In 1987, social worker Margaret Humphreys uncovered the story, and when she did she used all of her resources and all of waking time to try to help reunite these lost children with the mothers they had been taken from. Some moms were dead, some were still alive. To this day, some are still looking to find their family and have a sense of belonging restored into their souls.
The atrocity of this scandal prompted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to publicly apologize in 2010 to all the children deported, and his speech is included at the end of the movie. The incredible monstrosity of such an enterprise baffles the mind to this day. It sounds like a medieval act from a third-world country desperate to "save" some kids by sending them away to a better life, but in fact this happened in England, a surely civilized country, shipping off by boat its children to a land so far away they knew they would most likely disappear forever, and never come back.
The shameful struggle these kids, as young as three, suffered, and the aftermath of anguish that followed their growing up, must be told and must be known, to make sure it will never repeat itself anywhere in the world. This is a recent event, this is not ancient history, the program only ended in 1970, just about 40 years ago, and the sheer number of children deported from England to Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia, and Canada is mind boggling. Most of the condemned children are alive today.
There were 150,000 of them.
THE spot for your favorite fan theories and the best Netflix recs. Learn more