Children of Ceausescu


Beginning in 1994 and for the next five years I visited hospitals and orphanages in Romania. This was the aftermath of the brutal regime of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu causing the worst AIDS epidemic among children in the world, still one of the poorest and most fractured societies in Eastern Europe. I was shocked seeing the lives of the infected children and meeting doctors and nurses who were trying their best to give the children a descent life. It was important to document this crime against humanity but with what right? After talking to several doctors who had been in the forefront opposing the Romanian neglect of the AIDS epidemic during Ceausescu, their opinion was, right now we are living in a poor country without the economy to pay for the medicines needed for the children with AIDS. It is important to publish articles to spread the information about how the situation is right now, so we can, and we need support from abroad, treat all the sick children.
Five children per family, the law said. There was no contraception and abortion was a crime. As a result, there were the orphanages, which made the tragic headlines around the world after the dictator's fall from power. They were for the children with no parents, whose mothers were in prison after an illegal abortion or dead at the hands of some back-street abortionist. Guilt-ridden, their fathers slid into alcoholism. Then the state would put the two or three surviving children into a an orphanage. The healthy ones were groomed for the secret police's special units; the sick and disabled wasted away in their own filth – the flotsam of an uncaring insane society.
Excerpt from A good person is worth as much as a piece of bread by Herta Müller, Romanian author and Nobel prize winner:
Fresh milk, vitamins, and food were scarce, so institutions were told to treat the malnourished and anemic children with a fast-fix ”pick-me-up” consisting of transfusions of unscreened plasma. Compounding the issue, caseworkers often reused vaccination needles on children, frequently using one needle on as many as ten children. The result: widespread AIDS throughout the child population in Romania.