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.