There are plenty of reasons why so many children are homeless in Ukraine. Some have been abandoned by their families. Others are victims of abuse. Whatever the reasons, each child is different, and has a unique story to tell.
There are no official statistics for the total number of children and young people living or working on the streets of Ukraine, yet various children’s charities and homeless organizations suggest the number is somewhere between 50,000 and 300,000.
Over the past 8 years, Scottish photographer David Gillanders has photographed the lives of these street children - documenting their stories of grim day-to-day existence on the streets of Odessa.
David found the children living underground, seeking warmth from central heating pipes. They were ravaged by malnutrition and addicted to drugs - nasal decongestants, which they crushed down and then injected.
“When I first started to take pictures of children living like that, I knew that I wasn’t going to change the world. But I did think something would happen - that it would improve. It didn’t.”
A photograph of one street child, Yana, won UNICEF Photograph of the Year. It captured the 13-year-old only 5 days before she froze to death on the streets.
Most of the children David has documented are now dead and his photographs are the only evidence of their tragic, short lives.
Based around his photographs, David has made a powerful and moving short film, The Neglected for Channel 4 television. Produced by Nicola Black of Blackwatch Media, the film reveals the lives of a lost generation of children who live in desolation underneath the streets of Odessa.
The Neglected will be broadcast on Channel 4, Thursday 22nd March 12 midnight.
Above photograph copyright to David Gillanders.