Young Addicts

I won’t claim to be a specialist on the subject of child drug addicts, and I don’t know any of the statistics (after a brutal course in college I will never again pay much attention to statistics). What I do know is what I see with my own eyes and what I experience when I travel and when I work.

I know that every country and every region has problems with drug addiction to varying degrees. However, I also know that in developing countries the problem is much, much worse than anything we see in the West. 

During my recent trip to Uganda I spent a good deal of my time in the slums of Kampala photographing the lives of the children that live in the midst of poverty and chaos. In these areas, drug addiction takes on new meaning. There are literally hundreds of children living on the streets as drug addicts. Their drug of choice is the only one that they can afford—glue. The vast majority are battered and bruised from constant fighting, wearing filthy, tattered clothes. 

Now add to this the fact that many of these children are missing hands and feet. You see, they can’t afford food; the glue they sniff is cheaper and it takes the hunger pains away. Of course, the glue is not free and some of the children have been known to steal in order to feed their addiction. In an area where no one has much of anything, the locals hide crude bear and wild animal traps to keep the children away. It does little to solve or help the problem, other than taking the child off the streets for a week or two after they have lost fingers, toes or a limb.

Like most things in life, the problem is complex. The simplest solution would be to make it more difficult for the children to get the glue that they sniff, as all they have to do is go to any one of the vendors on the street that will put some glue in an empty bottle for the children to sniff. Locals agree that the children should not be sold glue, but the public official of this area (basically the mayor of this district I am told) is the one who imports the drugs and supplies the street level dealers. His money and power keep him safe.  •


Zoriah Miller is an award-winning photojournalist. His work has been featured in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, museums and publications. With a background in disaster management and humanitarian aid, Zoriah specializes in documenting human crises in developing countries. He periodically works with the Denver VOICE or provides photo-essays related to local, national or international poverty and homelessness.

Dry Docked: The New Life of Venice and Grand Isle, Louisiana

A local man involved in cleanup.Photography and Text by Zoriah Miller

As a photojournalist, I learn something new from each and every project I do. Sometimes I come away from a story with profound new facts, information that I never could have discovered had I not just gone and experienced it myself. Sometimes what I learn is life changing, knowledge that opens my eyes and allows me to see the world and humanity in a completely new light.

Other times I feel like I learn very little, and in some cases I feel like I know less about a situation than I thought I did going into it. This was my experience shooting the aftermath of one of the worst oil spills in history, the BP Gulf Oil Spill.

Going into the project, I pictured angry fishermen protesting on the streets, fighting for a livelihood that had been passed down from generation to generation. I pictured oil-drenched beaches with dead animals strewn about and thick sludge as far as the eye could see. I pictured eye-opening conversations with scientists and wildlife officials. But what I actually found when I arrived was, for the most part, quite different.

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Art Feature: Lens on the city

Published March 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 3

text by Tim Covi
photots by Zoriah Miller

When it comes to growth and design, Denver seems to be at the cutting edge of new models of development, embracing terms of the times like “new urbanism,” “sustainable” and “green.” Communities like Lowry, Landmark, Stapleton and Belmar have spotted the landscape on the outer ring of the city over the past 8 years, and newer re-developments like the Gates Rubber Plant project and the planned build out behind Union Station are under way within the shadow of downtown.

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Feature: From Afghanistan to the streets

Published October 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 9

text and photographs by Zoriah Miller

Zoriah is an award-winning photojournalist whose work has been featured in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, museums and publications. With a background in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Aid, Zoriah specializes in documenting human crises in developing countries.

Young refugees from Afghanistan pass their time playing sports in Villemin Park, which has become their temporary home.

Each year, as the conflict in Afghanistan continues to escalate, more and more Afghans choose to flee their homeland in search of work and safety. They follow rumors of freedom and refuge, but often end up on the streets, stuck in yet another desperate situation.

I recently spent some time on the streets of Paris with several groups of homeless refugees from Afghanistan.  Stuck in a state of limbo, unable to gain official refugee status and the right to work, unable to make the difficult and illegal crossing to England where they would be able to gain that status and employment, they spend their days and nights on streets trying to survive.

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