"I was working on a travel story in Ethiopia when I heard about the estimated 80,000 children living on the streets of Addis Ababa. I extended my stay by a few days and start researching and photographing the story. Through a local NGO I was able to make contact with Bruke, a 15 year old boy, who like thousands of other street children had sought refuge underground, making his home in a small drainage hole in the middle of the road. The Merkato commercial center of Addis Ababa has become the de facto place for Ethiopian children escaping rural poverty, AIDS, abusive families, the clutches of indentured servitude and human trafficking. Thinking they have found a haven, they instead find the Merkato a harsh and dangerous environment. These children face the obvious daily struggles of finding food, protection and safety, and are forced to deal with the lingering and constant threat of sexual predators who prey on the vulnerable street children. With no social welfare system and the lack of enforceable child rights in Ethiopia, the children find themselves, in essence, in a state of civil death - the legal status of a person who is alive but who has been deprived of the rights and privileges of a citizen or a member of society.
I spent two days with Bruke, learning about what brought him to the streets and how he survives. For a short while I was able to get sporadic reports on his well-being from my fixer who passed through the area. For the last 2 1/2 years I have not had any news. I am planning to return to Ethiopia later in the year to expand on the work I started there, and with the hopes of finding Bruke again." - Jason FlorioView the magazine feature
.© Jason Florio