The capital of Romania, Bucharest was once known as the “Paris of the east”. It is a city full of history, beautiful architecture and an ambiance that many tourists travel to for the cultural experience of a lifetime. This beautiful, ornate, historic city has a dark secret hiding underground. A place that no tourists visit. A place where the destitute and poor call home. Beneath the ancient mansions and parks lies an underground kingdom full of drug addicts. Each citizen of this underground city is HIV positive and many are addicted to drugs. There is one drug kingpin named Bruce Lee that rules the underground city and provides the drugs for its citizens. He allowed a few reporters to go into his home and gave them a tour:
The halls are lined with drug addicts looking to buy paint and glue from Bruce Lee to sniff and get high.
Bruce Lee runs the underground kingdom and has a line of people all day long waiting to see him for different needs.
This HIV positive woman dips her needle into a cauldron of a methadone like substance.
Here they saw a man huffing a bag of paint to get high while behind him is a man with a needle in his arm. They had no care that cameras were around.
This is the entrance into the underground kingdom. You can see Bruce Lee guiding them in.
When they first saw Bruce Lee, he was wearing very little. He has chains padlocked around his wrists and ankles to aid in fighting where he received his name.
Bruce Lee was abandoned by his mother when he was just 3 days old. The tunnels are full of dance music and the smell of paint and glue. These tunnels used to heat the city so they are almost unbearably hot.
The tunnel is full of dogs who have never seen the light of day. They do take care of their animals Lee says.
A resident inspects his needle before injecting the synthetic drug.
Bruce Lee says he offers a place to stay and pays gangs to protect the abandoned children of Bucharest.
Lee’s body is covered in scars from fights and self-inflicted wounds from spending his life on and under the streets of Romania.
More drugs being consumed. Lee sells the addicts paint and glue for about 50p a hit (82 cents)
There is a twisted order to Lee’s family. He offers drugs however he protects the young ones from sexual abuse.
These people retreated here during the fall of communism and have never left.
As Lee was showing the reporters around he stopped to reflect and show them pictures of his past.
This is Nico. Lee adopted him after he was found on the streets with no place to go. Lee and another caring woman, named Aluca, who lives underground are the only family he has.
Last year Nico contracted AIDS and almost died in the hospital. Lee took him money, juices and sweets every day. The boy is now 17 but looks much younger from a life of drugs stunting his growth. Lee made Nico stop using needles and hopes to better his life.
The tunnels are full of electricity and the constant sound of dance music.
The halls are lined with framed pictures and small decorations. The walls are painted different colors. The whole place has electricity and one room even had a t.v.
Bruce Lee hopes to prove to the city of Romania that they are good people, just misunderstood. He wants people to know that they are not the scum of the city.
Lee only knows the people.
Here a small dog tries his luck in a cauldron of drugs on the counter.
Lee, Nico and Aluca are the only family that they know. They have been through some hard times but continue to love and look after one another. Lee says these people come to him for advise, a warm place to sleep, food and understanding. “We are a family, we want to be a family here and that’s what we are”.
The world is full of some very dark places that not many know about. This is a prime example of that, but the bottom line is that these people only know one way of life so asking them to change is next to impossible. They are a family and love each other as much as the next. It breaks my heart that these people have to deal with this on a regular basis but they do have each other and deserve to be loved.