Children Underground

Children Underground is a 2001 heart breaking documentary about homeless children living in a subway station and sleeping on cardboard boxes currently in Romania. Today there are 20,000 children in Romania living on the streets. The resources for helping these children are limited. This film makes me want to reach out and help homeless children. This film depicts the lives of just a small fraction of all those children. They beg for money everyday and a lot of times they use that money to buy paint so they could get high. There has been a lot of controversy over this film when it comes to the film-makers just sitting back and watching these kids getting beaten, doing drugs, etc….. I am on the fence when it comes to the subject. In a way I feel they should of done something. I would of done something myself. In a way it's like they just used these poor children and exploited them instead of trying to help. But at the same time, by them not stepping into some of the things happening, we get to see how hard their lives were. The children also never looked to the film makers for help. A lot of these kids WANTED to live in the streets. Some of them felt like they were free by living in the streets. However, when the filming stopped, the makers did nothing to help the children. They were excited to win awards and make money from their documentary but never returned to help a single child.


The child that gets high the most is Macarena….who I actually thought was a boy at first. To tell you the truth, I thought they were all boys. Macarena, who got that nickname from doing the Macarena dance, often has paint all over her face and fingers. They pour it into a bag and huff it in. In the middle of the night she freaks out and starts screaming because she's so hungry. After sniffing paint she no longer feels hungry but as it wears off, she then starts to get really hungry. Because of this she is beaten.  Macarena was born the same year as I was born, 1986. She didn't know she was born from a woman. She even asked a woman about it and it striked me as kind of odd that she would not know that. I had high hopes that this poor girl would get some help and be alright. Unfortunately, it didn't get any better for her. In 2008, a social worker interviewed her and discovered she was not into heroine, sleeps outdoors, and was incoherent. As of now she is presumed dead, or dying. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the film makers or social worker didn't help Macarena. Even in 2008. These people just sit back observing and using her in their film and do NOTHING to help her. If someone just reached out to these kids maybe their lives would of been better. I think and I hope maybe she is alive after reading Mihai (one of the other kids) call the social worker a liar. He says that Macarena is not on heroine. So maybe that means she is still alive. The social worker replied with, "I have been told by more than one person that Macarena is addicted to heroine. I have talked to Macarena when she has been high, although it's possible she was just high on Aurolac (paint) or something else at the time."



*Update* I have Mihai as a friend on Face Book. He says Macarena is still alive and Ana is still living at home with her mother and younger brothers. Thank goodness for that. I will update this more when I find out more information. I don't want to ask him too many questions seeing how he gets asked a lot of the same questions on face book.



Ana is another I thought was a boy. The poor child isn't very attractive. I'm not saying that to be mean. It makes me wonder if she has a genetic disorder. She has dark circles under her eyes and her nose looks like it has taken a few beatings. She is often beaten up for stealing. At one part of the film she is severally beaten and kicked in the face. I couldn't believe my eyes. This was very disturbing to me that no one would do anything about this. She also has some serious psychological issues. Aside from cutting her arms, she cries the entire time. One of these annoying times she cries because there is no pool in a park. It was beginning to hurt my ears. And what's the deal with these children saying they're going to piss on things? She also has her brother along with her. She stole him from home and his name is Marian. They choose not to stay home because their parents are very poor and they get more food in the streets.  At age 12, Marian was living at a small, poorly maintained residential area for boys. He was going to school and learning to use a computer. He also had friends. He visits his moth occasionally. Ana moves back in with her mother after social workers threatened to take her to court. At age 14 film makers were unable to find Ana but heard that she was prostituting herself. This rumor hasn't been confirmed. Later that year the film makers received a photo of Ana and Marian holding their mother's new twins. Like that woman needs twins. she cannot even afford to take care of her own twins. Here is an idea, if you cannot afford condoms…don't have sex at all. Is it that hard?



There are several different theories as to why Ana left home. Some mention sexual abuse by her step father but this hasn't been proven. The child is obviously mentally imbalanced and in need of psychiatric help so that may be all we have to go on as to why she left. I did find the things her step father said on camera disturbing. He mentioned that his daughter was still a virgin. When asked how he knew this he replied that he knew from giving her baths. How many girls that age are still being bathed by a parent and why wasn't the mother bathing her? And checking to see if her hymen is still intact is borderline inappropriate don't you think? As embarrassing as this situation is, it may make her not want to mention it on film and might have something to do with cutting herself and running away. Child molestation is emotionally damaging.



Cristina is yet another that I thought was a boy. She dresses like a man and tells people she is a boy. She's only 16. She also has serious mental issues. She likes to fight constantly. Her weapon of choice is a stick.   But she at least admits to her problems.  By the time she reaches 19 she moves to another subway station and became the leader of an older group of children. she had become addicted to heroine and she was three months pregnant. Her baby was given away to a non profit organization working with street children. Cristina's girlfriend was working as a prostitute which might of been their only source of income.  There has been confusion to her where abbots. A lot of people think she's dead. Results of her death ranging from heroine overdose, aids, or dying from a cold. Mihai has confirmed that she is still alive. What she is doing with her life is not clear but last we heard she is addicted to heroine and cannot stop.



Mihai often disturbed me. He is without a doubt the most intelligent of the children. He even refuses to beg and likes to 'work.' Other than working, he enjoys learning and wants to go to school. None of the other kids seem to care about this as much as he does. One scene that stands out in this film is when he starts to cut himself in the park as a result of Ana screaming at him. At this point someone actually stopped him from cutting himself. At another part of the film I noticed his arm was red and it looked like a rash but I don't know what in the world was up with that.  After doing some research to see how the kids were holding up I came across this on Mihai, "Aged 16. A Belgian man who had seen the documentary had made it his mission to rescue Mihai. After six months of searching he found Mihai in Bucharest and brought him back to Belgium. After three productive months of learning French, going to school, and speaking at screenings of Children Underground in Belgium, Mihai returned to Romania to renew his visa. He is now living in Bucharest with a social worker and looking for a job, but may go back to Belgium in the future." Like I mentioned before, Mihai is doing well and has more of a life than the rest of the children. I will continue to update on this since I now have him on Face Book.





My thoughts and prayers go towards all of these individuals and I hope everything gets better for them and their current situation. I only wish there is something I could do to help.

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