home to Romania's forgotten orphans
July 23, 1997
Web posted at: 4:07 a.m. EDT (0807 GMT)
Correspondent Bill Delaney
Romania (CNN) -- Just outside the bustling railway North
Station, a sewer entrance serves as the home to a shifting
population of 50 or 60 lost souls.
orphans are the result of the brutal regime of Romanian
Dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu. Though executed Christmas Day,
1989, Ceaucescu's cruel legacy lingers in the face of
says she's called the sewer under the station home since she
was 13. Now in her early 20s, Mariana lives with hundreds of
young men and women who, for one reason or another, were
warehoused in state institutions under the socialist
dictator and then loosed to the streets when communism fell.
later, most of these young street urchins sniff glue to pass
the time. Outside of the occasional visit from the police
and a brave handful of social workers, they're forgotten.
as throughout much of Eastern Europe, millions are still
struggling for a foothold in the
everyman-for-himself-market. The most marginalized come
last, and with so little money to go around for anyone in
need of assistance, there's precious little left for the
generation of orphans
plight of the street children is reaching a new level.
Station, not under it, other orphans -- hundreds of children
as young as 8 -- have become the new castoffs of the
revolution. Social workers say their plight is not due to
Ceaucescu's socialism but because of families breaking apart
under the financial strains of the new Eastern Europe.
Atanasiu, who works with Save the Children, a group
dedicated to making positive differences in the lives of
disadvantaged children, is herself feeling the economic
pressures. Working sometimes late into the night at North
Station, she earns just $50 a month.
of problem is the source for other kinds of problems,"
Atanasiu says. "They create disabilities in the families,
and this is I think the first step to losing the children in
Romania, which is in so many ways a new country just getting
on its own feet, many of the young are already old beyond
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