flndrea de Rossi

Hidden Depression

The Street Boys, called like this by locals in Nairobi, are boys and girls (girls are very few in number compared to boys), often from the age of 9 to 20 years old who hardly have house where to live, as well as a bad family situation, circumstances that lead them to run away from home. In order to face and mitigate difficult life conditions and depression, they are used to taking synthetic drugs, usually “msi” (Airplane Kerosene) or shoe glue, often sold by local sellers. Those who run away from families live and sleep on the streets, seeking protection under bridges, elevated roads, under the benches of street sellers, or in the worst cases inside sewer manholes.
They usually spend their day collecting materials such as every sort of plastic or metal to bring them to dumps in exchange for a little amount of money (about 20 shillings/Kg for plastic, and 50 shillings/Kg for metal), so they can eat something and buy drugs.
Many local and international organizations provide help to many of them, giving each one at least two meals a week. This service, provided by such organizations, does not always have positive effects, because it indirectly encourages some of them to carry on their life on the streets and to sniff drugs. Nevertheless, many times those who are rescued by organizations and who accept to be helped get good results, such as giving up living on the streets and finding a job.
During my short stay in Nairobi, I met some members of one of these humanitarian organizations, that twice a week goes to a place where some of the street boys usually meet, a large football pitch in the middle of Githurai 45 district.
The guys that I portrayed are some of the Street Boys, but this work was not the result of a detailed study, nor of research about the issue, due to the few occasions I spent with them. It was, instead, a photo session made in few hours, in which I asked some questions, getting their previous approval: their names, the reasons for taking drugs and the effects that those drugs had on them.
The photos show their facial expressions and the gestures they gave while we were talking. I gave them the maximum freedom, without asking them particular poses, not even aesthetic ones. I just asked them not to hide the objects with which they used to take drugs (if they had any at that moment).
As it is clear from the pictures, the presence of someone spending some time with them can positively change their mood even for a short period of time. On the other hand, it is easy to see them depressed, totally lost while sitting on the side of the streets, collecting materials to sell or wandering the town without any destination. During the time I spent with the boys it was evident their seesaw behavior, this may also justify their unstable condition.

You can find further information about them searching for: zombies of Nairobi or street children.
Unfortunately, the problem lies in other major cities in other African countries.