The first part of filming in Odessa was to accompany the social patrol van of the local NGO called The Way Home. They look after around 30 children in their car centre and provide facilities for others to drop in.
An important element of their work is making contact with children who chose to stay out on the streets and avoid seeking help for whatever reason.
It was a hot day. I was exhausted from the train trip. Unable to check into my hotel, I had spent the morning wandering around Odessa in a daze but that changed at the first location the social patrol checked.
Adjacent to a McDonalds in an old garage or storage room we found 3 teenage boys. Their living conditions can only be described as squalid. The stench of faeces was almost overwhelming. Mountains of rubbish were piled up against their little cubby hole. I had to steady myself from vomiting and keep a steady shot.
One boy could not speak and had trouble walking. The two older boys (below) were more lucid.
The boy in the foreground told us that his brother died a week ago.
The Way Home staff provided the boys with food, water and gave them basic first aid for cuts and wounds from injecting drugs.
The usual drug of choice is glue for sniffing. Another is making a brew of what I understood to be an amphetamine based over the counter drug for injecting. We found many empty tubes of glue and needles.