We, the Invisible Children of Rome Central Station
"I'm still a child and I'm afraid. "
Abdul is just one of the many unaccompanied foreign minors who live in the underground world or sleep in the streets near Termini Central Station, in Rome.
A square meter of cardboard and a blanket for the night, that's it. That is what their home looks like in Rome, the big city of the Jubilee.
In fact, Abdul is one of the 6000 minors who arrived to Italy without a family, after a long journey to escape war and poverty, and just disappeared. Spirited away, invisible, vanished — many of these teenagers end up victims of crime and pedophiles rather than starve.
" Invisible. In a garden with a few blades of withered grass , between taxis waiting and buses unloading tourists , behind stalls of used books and relics of the Fascist period. In the heart of the capital. Around the largest national railway junction . The great belly of Rome and Italy : Termini station ".
Floriana Bulfon for L' Espresso
In the Capital, children like Abdul have to push drugs, steal and pronstitute themselves to survive. A Dantesque where pedophiles as the "Englishman", roam every day offering unaccompanied foreign minors a few tens of euro in exchange of sex. Thanks to Abdul's story, the Italian State Police was able to identify and arrest the so dubbed "Englishman".
" I followed the movements of this man, this so called " Englishman ", I followed his walks, I saw his eyes and the more I looked at him, the more I got to know him, the more I wondered how was it possible that a man could spend days "searching " for minors. Every day I was returning home with a sense of disgust for the baseness which human being can reach.
It has been a delicate and tough work, because of the difficult and degrading environment in which I found these guys and mostly because of the sense of helplessness that I felt inside.
Humanly it has been priceless having the possibility to meet these kids and listen to their stories. Children who are unseen , unheard , and just left alone . As a photographer I had to defend the fact that they were minors, hiding their identities . I had to make them " invisible " twice. "
The photo report is part of an investigation conducted by Cristina Mastrandrea together with the journalist Floriana Bulfon, while the video "Noi ragazzi dello zoo di Roma" (literally " We children of Rome's Zoo ") is directed by Toni Trupia and Mario Poeta. Both are part of a broader project promoted by Unicef Italia aimed to document the harsh living conditions of unaccompanied foreign minors.