The Lost Souls of Bucharest
Author: Detlev Konnerth
They live in sewers and cardboard boxes, in lockers at train stations, under bridges and in parks:
The Street Kids of Bucharest. Eleven years after the death of dictator Ceausescu, there are more than ever. Allegedly, more than three thousand of them live in the capital, including many who have become young adults in the meantime.
Ten years ago, Spiegel TV already portrayed some of them, including the then twelve-year-old Anna. At Bucharest`s main train station she worked as a prostitute and dreamed of a life in a family. Spiegel TV visited her again last year. Anna is now 21, is still homeless, has a child of her own, and eases her longing for a better life by sniffing "aurolack", an extremely harmful dyeing solution.
Life on the street is all Michaela and Laurentiu know, too. Their "home" is a sewer located under the streets of Bucharest. More than three thousand homeless youths in the country have the same plight. They are all the result of an irresponsible family planning scheme created by the megalomaniac dictator, Ceausescu, who for forty years made abortion a punishable offense and preferred to leave youths who had difficulties in adapting to rot in homes comparable to punishment camps.
The most egregious example for this is probably Cighid, officially a home for disabled children, but in reality a detention center of criminal dimensions. When Spiegel TV shed light on the conditions in the center in early 1991, the footage of neglected, apathetic children went around the world.
The center has gone through a lot of changes since then. With the help of international donations, Cighid, the former "hell", has turned into an exemplary home.Time and again Spiegel TV has reported directly from Romania to document the country`s slow progress after Ceausescu. The plight of many youths on the streets of Bucharest has hardly changed, though. Without education or guidance, with no perspectives, they fight to survive: by begging, resorting to petty crime and prostitution. Their dreams have also remained the same: to have their own home, a family and - children.
year of production: 2001