“The Good, Bad, and Irrecoverable—Romania’s Lost Children”
Nearly three decades ago, Romanian dictator Nicolai Ceaușescu fell, along with his state-run orphanages. The streets were flooded with unwanted children, some who were privately adopted, others who made homes in the sewers and streets. Today, with some reintegrated into society, some still homeless, and some dead, Ceaușescu’ children have grown up.
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In the early 90s, street kids boomed as the children flocked to Bucharest, the only city with an underground rail system. Children would visit their family and friends back home, recruiting more children to the city. The average age was just seven-years-old.
“After Ceausescu’s fall it was complete chaos, and we call this chaos freedom,” explains NGO Save the Children social worker Leonard Andreescu.
Under Bucharests’s streets emerged Lord of the Flies-esque societies, organised systems with leaders. According to Andreescu, these systems were arranged “fantastically.”
“The sewer systems are warm, they hooked them up to water and power. They had a long string of lights down the tunnel systems—if you entered, but didn’t know the password, they would turn them off.”
Of the original children living in the streets, Andreescu estimates only 300 remain, with most of these now being adults. But this doesn’t indicate an improvement in social services, said Andreescu.
“One third are dead. One third are reintegrated into society. And one third still live on the street.”
Samantha Dixon, Euroviews, April 27, 2017