Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is a beautiful city full of graceful architecture and rich with history. But beneath its beautiful streets is another world, buried there after the fall of Romania’s brutal communist dictatorship – a world of sewers and forgotten orphans.
This underground network of sewers is home to the city’s lost and forgotten souls, most of whom have HIV and a quarter of whom suffer from TB. The sewers, and their king Bruce Lee, were the subject of a recently released Channel 4 News film.
Bruce Lee, this underworld’s king and primary drug dealer, is a complicated figure. He keeps the underground supplied with a metallic paint called Aurelac that they inhale to get high and with other synthetic drugs. However, the fearsome orphan and former street-fighter also pays local gangs for protection and protects other young orphans who have fallen through the cracks. Social workers say that Lee protects the youngsters from sexual predators and that junkies are far less likely to die when Lee offers them a warm place to sleep.
The sewers are remnants of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s grand plan to centrally heat the city. Although this plan didn’t work out, the ruined infrastructure gave the orphans who were forgotten after the fall of his dictatorship a place to live.
Bruce Lee enters his underground sewer kingdom underneath Bucharest
Lee provides these sewers’ denizens with metallic paint and synthetic drugs – their only comforts
This orphan and former street fighter takes care of the underground community’s youth
Most of these people have HIV, and a quarter have TB
Their residents are junkies and orphans who fell through the cracks after the fall of Ceausescu’s dictatorship
The sewers offer junkies and street kids a warm and relatively safe place to stay
Social workers say that Lee also protects children from sexual predators
Lee pays local gangs protection money to keep the sewers safe
The sewers and tunnels are leftovers from Ceausescu’s attempt to give Bucharest central heating
Image credits: Radu Ciorniciuc
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