“I received this great gift: desperation”

After a childhood of drug addiction on the streets of Bucharest, a former addict finds a solution for users to recover—by helping each other An English version of a confession published in DoR Interview and editing by Michael Bird, and Ionut Dulamita. Illustrations by Ionut Dulamita It is evening. I am in the room where […]

Crimea – where Russia’s war on drugs has deadly consequences

Up to 100 recovering drug users have died in Crimea since Russia seized the Ukrainian peninsular and banned their medication A feature published in The Black Sea, The Influence (USA) and Matters of Substance (NZ) magazines   Surrounded by seaside resorts, Crimea has been both a magnet for holidaymakers and drug users (picture copyright: Petrut Calinescu)   “I had to abandon home, […]

‘Moving to a village should be a great exit strategy for a heroin user – but it was a big mistake’

1. Ukraine: Part of a series of three stories revealing the complexities of living with HIV in east Europe. Published in The Black Sea “I tried to escape from heroin in the city to my grandparents in the countryside – but there was the source of the drug. That’s where I think I contracted HIV,” says ex-user […]

‘My wife and I both found out we were HIV positive – that shows it must be love’

2. Moldova: Part of a series of three stories revealing the complexities of living with HIV in eastern Europe. Published in The Black Sea “You don’t meet many couples where one is injecting drugs and the other is clean,” says Gary from Balti, Moldova Visual by Andrei Cotrut “My outer appearance has changed. If I brought […]

‘HIV changed my life – but for the better’

3. Romania: Part of a series of three stories from east Europe revealing the complex lives of people with HIV, published in The Black Sea and TOTB. “I am not a victim,” says communication specialist Monica from Bucharest, “but a person was has survived and can have a normal and healthy life.” Visual by Andrei […]

‘Ukrainian women are tough – they can stop a horse’

Meeting the mothers with HIV who refuse doctors’ recommendations to abort their babies in Ukraine and Moldova. A feature published in The Black Sea and EU Observer I meet Svetlana in a cafe in central Kyiv. She is 38 years old and a month away from giving birth to her first child. “Finding I was pregnant […]

A wedding in the sky

Shot in the Revolution, pimped out by her mother, lost to drugs and now homeless, Sanda is one of countless victims abandoned on the 25th anniversary of Romania’s uprising. A feature published in The Black Sea I am sitting in the attic office of the French-Italian charity Parada, which trains homeless people from Bucharest into circus performers. Alongside me is the […]

Bucharest wedding singer paralyzed by legal highs, rescued by breakdancing

Paralyzed by legal highs, wedding singer Ciobi was alone, jobless, living on the streets of Bucharest, his body collapsing – until he took up popping, locking and breaking –  a feature from  The Black Sea In south-central Bucharest, 43 year-old Ciobi is standing by the water cooler upstairs in a ramshackle villa housing Italian charity Parada, which […]