Netflix Graveyard: Children Underground

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In the West, the fall of Communism is usually celebrated as a good thing. It is a symbol of our free-form democracy over the regulated and strict dictator led regimes. While the fall of Communism has helped Germany become a world power again and Russia seems to have suffered very little (some say Communism is still alive and well in Putin’s regime), the small countries are the ones that have suffered from the break up of the Soviet Bloc. Places like Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and Afghanistan have been hindered by abject poverty, unseasoned and corrupt politicians and a reluctance to fully embrace democracy. Romania’s dictator decided that in order to increase the work force in his small country, he would ban contraception and abortion. This resulted in thousands of unwanted babies being born to men and women who could barely take care of themselves. Once the dictator left power, these small children were left to survive on their own in the streets of Bucharest. This documentary shows the lives that five of these children lead.

This movie is a disturbing picture of just how terrible some children’s lives are. Out of the five subjects, three of the of these children are under the age of ten. One sister brought her younger brother out of the shack her parents lived in to come live with her because it was so bad at home. The two older children were both orphans who ran away from their orphanages once they discovered that at least on the streets you won’t get beat anymore. Of course that is not true. We see one subject beat consistently by angry men who want her to shut up or to leave their store alone. This is because she is almost always high on a silver paint they call Aurolac. She is nicknamed Macarana and wanders around the subway station that everybody lives in with silver specs permanently gracing her face. There is little hope for each child which is embodied by the last of the subjects, Mihai who is struggling to pick up odd jobs so he doesn’t have to beg and wishes desperately to go back to school. Unfortunately he can’t get into a proper school without his permit which his parents have and refuse to give to him unless he comes back home. But he ran away in the first place because of the severe beatings he got from his father. Each child is messed up in their own way. They do not have an adequate place to play, they don’t eat most days or change their clothes, and they have no access to schooling. These children are hopeless. They will most likely be life long homeless. This is mainly because there are just not enough social workers or facilities to take them in and house them. And most of the boarding houses that take in street children only take them if they have been on the streets for less than a year, because they are harder to rehabilitate if they stay longer.

Before I saw this documentary, I was completely unaware that such a problem existed. While homelessness is an issue in the whole world, even in my town that I live in, this has gone beyond problematic. This is an epidemic that needs to be fixed. A child who is robbed of their childhood, their education and their hygiene is no longer a child at all. This documentary is probably one of the saddest ones I have watched in a while. I would only suggest watching it if you are prepared for just how hard it is to sit through. Although movies like this can feel rewarding upon completion, it didn’t stop me from pausing the movie and wondering if I could make it all the way through.

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