Ceausescu's orphans 25 years on { 99 images } Created 18 Sep 2011

Their saucer-eyes peered out from behind bars, their scrawny bodies were strapped to the beds they slept in. Who could forget the terrible images of the Romanian orphans that stared from newspaper front pages following the fall of the Romanian dictator Nicolai Ceausescu in 1989?

After Ceausescu's execution, it emerged that hundreds of thousands of uncared and mistreated children had been hidden in crumbling institutions all over the country.

I witnessed the lives of these children first hand when I worked in Romania with a French charity. Between 1993 and 2000, I visited the same orphanage in Popricani near Iasi, in the North East of the country and built up a strong relationship with many of the children who were living there life in appalling conditions.

In December 2006, just before Romania joined the EU, I went through all my Romania photo archive from the 90s : I re-discovered hundreds of forgotten images of faces I could never forget.

I wondered what had happened to them. So I returned to Romania to track them down.

I undertook this extraordinary adventure thanks to my Romanian friend, Dan, ex-social worker at the orphanage. He helped me find the kids.

Since 2006 and a dozen of trips back, I managed to find almost 40 of them: Radu had made a success of his life. He had studied veterinary science and after working in the UK for several summers as a fruit picker, had got married in Romania and is now the father of 1 girl. Liliana had become a mother of 3 and lived with her husband in the village. Daniel had become the handyman of the ex-orphanage. Others had been less lucky: B was sex trafficked to Italy, before being rescued and returned to her village. Adriana had become a single mum begging on the streets of Iasi. Carmen had died years earlier of medical neglect in hospital.

Here are a few of their portraits then and now, as well as black and white pictures of the 90s and colour ones of them in the last 8 years.
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