Alina Anghelache is 24 years old and has been living in London nearly three years now. She left her Moldavian town to work, earn money and make a home of her own. On the way her pretty dream was shattered. Now Alina earns money from prostitution. Money to buy drugs and maintain her boyfriend.
Read this article in Romanian: Sex contra droguri, confesiunile unei românce din Londra
When I approached the table where she sat, she moved her left leg nervously and looked absent. She barely greeted me. And with the same kind of nervous movements she lit a cigarette and set it between tightly pursed lips. With a brief movement, her long and thin fingers threw back a few strands of long black hair, in order to reveal a white face, almost transparent. "What do you want to know?" Her first words were quite sharp. They eventually gave way to the steady, calm flow of a story with more downs than ups.
Alina was born 24 years ago in Barlad. A typical, broken home. Her mother battered by her father. A younger brother and sister. She remembers little of her childhood. Always hungry, often driven home by an alcoholic father, left at her mother's sister or at her grandmother's. Alina and her siblings had to take the world on sooner than the rest.
"I finished high school. My brother and sister were in vocational school. When I graduated, I decided to take life in my own hands. I left everything behind and went to Bucharest. Here I was employed in a public opinion polling company and carried with door-to-door surveys. There I met Gabi who used "weed" and so I started to smoke marijuana joints. First at parties, then I during the day. Later I realized that I could not live off the little money earned from surveys, even if as a multinational company, I could easily have advanced professionally, so to speak," so begins the story of Alina.
Dream to make money
After two years in Bucharest, Alina decided to emigrate.
"My dream was to work abroad, save some money and go back to my hometown, build myself a house, open a beauty parlor and bring my mother to live with me.
"I had a former high school classmate who right after graduating went to Britain where he found a job as a hairdresser. When he came home on leave after 2 years he wore designer clothes and had goodmoney. It was the first time in my life I saw 7000 pounds all together. That got me! I said there it is, this is the solution! I must leave Romania to fulfill my dream. Said and done!
"I left in June, three years ago. When I got to Luton I had 125 pounds on me. For the first 2 weeks until I found a job I stayed at a girlfriend's place. I worked first as a pub waitress, then as a hotel maid and as a waitress in a restaurant again. It was hard! Lots of shifts; very little free time. Here to make money you need to work hard.
"Rent, transportation were quite expensive. I thought it would take years to make enough money to fulfill my dream," she confesses. Hence Alina's life took another twist that would prove unfortunate for her.
"As I worked at the restaurant, I met a handsome Australian. He was gay! I went with him to Soho and took drugs for the first time. Cocaine. It was a powder that I sniffed. I mean I took it through my nose, not like the pot I used to take until then. Initially I didn't like it. I don't know how I got home that night. I slept for a day and a night. Seeing things. Finally, the second time was no longer just curiosity. I liked the feeling of detachment that each dose gave me, "says Alina.
After her first contact with high-risk drugs, Alina's life rolled on like a ball of snow in the valley and apparently could no longer be stopped.
Male and female prostitution
Going to Soho again with Adam, her gay friend, Alina met a few compatriots. Some of them living in a dirty house, with another 16 people, full of rats and bedbugs.
"It was unexpected for me to find fellow Romanians in this London neighborhood renown among gays. No, not working in bars as you might think, but offering their services, so to speak. I mean, not exactly prostitutes. They just agreed to receive oral sex from gays. For that they received 50 or 100 pounds. They were satisfied. Working on a building site is difficult and doesn't offer as many rewards! " she laughs heartily, tossing her head back.
"So I met my current boyfriend, Bogdan. But also his brother Ciprian. I quit my job and moved in with my boyfriend somewhere farther east in London where rents were cheaper.
"Obviously, conditions are pitiable. 19 people heaped up in one house. Rats scurrying around, but also teeming with bugs and roaches. My friend's brother got bitten a few months ago and had to go to the emergency as his head swelled from infection.
"As I said, I live with my boyfriend and his brother. Neither of them work. Occasionally they find some work washing cars. But they cannot live off it. They're both on drugs. And when they don't do drugs, they can't work. I assure them a roof over their head and a bowl of food. When I feel like partying we drink until dawn! I don't think they care where the money comes from.
"When I saw that I didn't make enough money to buy a dose, I decided to change my job. There are plenty of men willing to pay for female companionship. Some are more generous and others more skimpy, but I get by. How much does a dose cost? It varies from dealer to dealer, depending on the quality. It can go from 20 to 60 pounds. The cheapest stuff, obviously. How much do I charge for sex? Hmm, this is already a very indiscreet question, " Alina answers curtly.
Despite these shortfalls, she says she has not given up her dream. Alina paradoxically still believes that she'll fulfill it one day and that she is just making a temporary detour.
"No, I haven't abandoned the idea, I just want to have fun now because life is beautiful. Now while I'm young. We'll see about it later, " Alina ends her story.
After a while I left Alina at the same table where I found her, her well made up lips sipping cold coffee, already nervoulys playing with the phone.