deep inside
The Art-documentary project Deep Inside is about people with multiple severe developmental disabilities. Most of the participants of the project can neither speak nor leave the asylum. Our aim is to shine a light on this world and make it visible, because it exists and it is near.
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People living inside closed asylums are almost invisible as most of these institutions are situated outside of the city. We don`t see these people out on the streets, we know nothing about their life.
There are 504 closed psychoneurological institutions in Russia with around 150 thousand people living there. The asylum in Peterhof is one of the largest in Russia, and it accommodates 1030 people. The charitable organization Perspektivy curates 148 people with different types of disabilities that live there. This project is about them.
The main goal of the nonprofit charitable organization Perspektivy is to create living conditions for these special people that would most closely resemble those of regular people.
Perspektivy has been helping children and adults with multiple severe developmental disabilities that live in closed institutions and in families of St. Petersburg since 1996. The employees of Perspektivy work alongside the regular staff in asylums, being close to the people they look after every single day.
Today Perspektivy curates 91 children with severe disabilities living in the orphanage for disabled children №4 in Pavlovsk, 148 adults in the psychoneurological asylum №3 in Peterhof and 160 families in St. Petersburg that look after special children at home.
You arrive to Old Peterhof. Get out of the bus or leave the train station, and see an empty and still pavement. From time to time an emergency ambulance, lorry or a person in a wheelchair goes by. Here you can start to see the forest appear. You pass the trees, while their trunks blend into each other in the deep forest. You can feel the smell of the air, and suddenly hear the silence. If you walk this way for about 20 minutes, you will reach the huge white building of the asylum. People living there rarely go out, and most of them are unable to even walk in the forest.
The line of the forest. The line of the road.
The corridor split into two by the line.
On one side of the line there is us, on the other – also us.
If you take a closer look there is no line, but only a wall.
The wall behind which people live.
There, deep inside.
You go up the stairs, open the door and find yourself inside the 3rd unit. It was opened for people with the most severe developmental disabilities. It is quite noisy there – the entire life happens in one long and finite space of the corridor, that’s why constant motion is happening. Apart from the employees of the asylum and the people who live there, you can see volunteers walking down the corridor, as they enter rooms and often just sit on the bed by the side of the residents holding their hand and embracing them. Just before lunch is the most lively time there– everyone gathers and gets ready in advance – you need to arrange the chairs, bring those who cannot come by themselves, wake up those who are asleep. At this hour, it feels as if the number of employees expands greatly: the stronger ones help those who cannot move, put on clothes, go to the toilet or eat by themselves. No one teaches them to do it, it happens naturally – for example, Ksusha always feeds Vika, who cannot hold her head by herself, and she often doesn`t have time to eat, but nevertheless both of them look very happy.
Time is day that people live. We wake up at 7. At 7 I wake up.
My alarm clock goes off. Ring. I wake up. Put the kettle on.
I feed breakfast those who can’t eat themselves it is very difficult at breakfast by the way. All the time. But I
will be doing it always. I even move plates. And I am saying like eat.
And I am like silent. And I lower their head. Hup I noticed that she is not eating. But you know this also.

Breakfast is at 9 we are given breakfast. We eat gruel with cheese and tea for breakfast.
Sandwiches we eat. With butter. With tea.
Breakfast finishes everyone goes to the classes each his way. Someone goes to physical therapy
I go to ceramics classes. Today my day was for ceramics. Because ceramics teacher went today
to meeting. Today my day I was free. On Friday I will go to do handicraft.
Because Roma is on holidays. I am free. I can have rest.

I work at computer too. I make newspapers too. I like to
work at computer the computerman is on holidays now.
I am present everywhere where I like it and where I go and meet everyone
where they tell me I go. I am a very interesting person that will meet every day.
For example, with you.

I draw always small audio. Which I could every day could create at
yours. Because I am very shy and audio is created beautifully. And I
like it. Even in winter summer spring. Audio is like that I can tell about my drawings
that I draw snowman. I draw I already drew a tree second tree with apples.
I drew.
Then at half past twelve we go to second breakfast. At 12 daytime we go to second breakfast and then
to lunch. In an hour.

The tenth unit was opened much later than the third. There is a door
between them. When you leave the tenth and enter the third unit,
right by the door you are greeted by one of the guys, normally Kostya,
who takes you by the hand and leads you everywhere and shows you everything,
as if you came to someone`s home.
So there we`ve had lunch.
My classes finish again. Our day passes very quickly.
Because everyone is at classes.

I make a painting work on ceramics. Now we are making soap box for exhibition.
We will make for Easter.
I go to dinner. And after dinner I watch TV. In the evening I rest drink tea. Evening
dinner it is called for me.

After there I had tea now I sleep till morning and that is it breakfast again. Then second
breakfast. Then again snacks and again. Time goes and goes and goes.
I very have dreams. How I see in dream how one man came. Cup of tea
put I cup of tea drank. Hot. Then fell sleep again. I had a very dream.
I had a dream of Perspektivy . How they took me to camp.

I dream of workers volunteers workers all they I dream of. I sleep with it. I communicate.
I wake up and my head spin. I perceive like this very good.

Dreams can be big and interesting can be funny at all. Dreams. Can be serious
dreams. During lately I had such dream. So impressionable dream. Which I
wouldn`t want to open.
Life is when someone lives long till end of their life. Life is good thing. I
smile I am joyful now summer will be. To street I go. Such is my life.

03.Recreation room
When you leave, you might feel that you can barely move your arm because it aches so badly due to so many people gripping it with inhuman strength. It is gripped this way because they want your arm to become their arm. They grip it because they want to. How often do you hold someone’s hand? It could be every morning or several times a day. Why do you feel this need? To overcome the longing for much needed closeness, to share what is yours, to feel compassion, warmth and response. We also want love. If we think about it, what truly important things happen to us? We feel the emotions of being happy, sad, worried, shy, jealous, concerned, we want to drink or sleep, we dream. And we try to express this. Everyone tries to express themselves in their own special way. We express it as best as we can.
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We are afraid of the pain, and we try not to see or feel it. Most of us have a phobia of our feelings. But when we allow ourselves to feel the pain and the joy, we see that there is something behind the pain too. I actually think that all of us are disabled, it is just with some it is more visible than with others.
Margarete Von Der Borh,
Founder of «Perspektivy»
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It is enough to have an interest in the personality of the individual, openness towards those who are different from you, absolute respect for the individual. Not because of their achievements, or skills and abilities, not because of their talent and beauty, but just because they are human.
Masha Ostrovskaya,
President of «Perspektivy»
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I don’t know what awaits me in the future, but I know for sure that I want to have kids. No one can say that you won`t have a special child like these children. That’s why I wanted to have this experience in my life.
Yari Gonzalez,
Volunteer for Perspektivy «Perspektivy»
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People like this are those who usually make important social changes, because they evoke compassion. But at the same time, they make us question ourselves: Am I alright? What am I doing? They send us back to the normal human notions of life, love, death.
Lena Shiffers,
Head of the Art program of «Perspektivy»
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You realize that they begin to wait for you. Your presence and your smile, as one of the girls says, «Shines you in the eye». And, I understand that my smile is the most important thing I can give people.
Andrey and Elena Babiny,
Sponsors of «Perspektivy»
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I need a purpose to live. And charity has more meaning in it than any other activity. It helps me not to be afraid. Also, it gives me understanding and it enriches us – people with disabilities give us the gift of the possibility to take care of them. And I cannot refuse to accept this gift
Dmitry Chudinov,
Sponsor of «Perspektivy»
You get out of the asylum, and again find yourself on the road. All around you is forest. When you leave, the road seems different, as if it became longer. Although usually it is the other way around – the road back seems shorter. Perhaps everything slows down – time flows in the asylum and in the city at a different pace. Here, on this road, appears a clearing in the forest, where you can stop. Layers of thought change places, and your thinking starts to proceed in a different sequence: about something uncertain and fleeting – about meaning, patience, truthfulness, death, normality, being needed, about yourself. You want to walk even slower, in order to remember this slow pace, to understand it and keep it inside.

The line of the forest.
The line of the road.
The corridor split in two by the line.
On one side of the line there is us, on the other – also us.
But all of us are only humans.
Somewhere, deep inside.
How to help
Andrey and Elena Babiny,
Sponsors of «Perspektivy»
Share the happiness
How and when did you start doing charity work?
It all started long ago. After being married for 18 years, we decided to have an Orthodox wedding ceremony. We came to the church for our first confession, bought our first prayer book and Bible. During Easter, our spiritual father Mikhail gave us his blessing to visit people in hospice. There were different patients there – those who were really ill and dying, and those who had already been treated for many months . At first it was difficult to see it and perceive it. But as people talk to you and you to them, you start to enjoy each other’s company. At first it was difficult, but also satisfying. You realize that they begin to wait for you. Your presence and your smile, as one of the girls says, “Shines you in the eye”. And, I understand that my smile is the most important thing I can give people. The hospice was probably my first step towards compassion for people who are physically disabled.

Later, we got involved with the organization called New Generation that helps troubled teenagers. Together we have built a church and consecrated it in the name of St. Constantine and St. Elena. The church is located in the suburbs on Doblesti Street – a very cosy wooden pearl among the high stone buildings. A church congregation was formed and has become a really close family.

Потом мы познакомились с Маргарете (Margarete von der Borch, Founder of the «Perspektivy» organization) and after a while, I found myself in the Pavlovsky orphanage. It wasn't easy, I was really nervous. It's one thing to be with adults in the hospice, another thing to be with disabled children, most of whom were rejected even by their parents. I am fearful to get into such topics as I become easily attached. My husband always keeps me within bounds, otherwise I would have already brought someone home, but he doesn't allow me to. I agree with him though - there is an extent to which you can help and you shouldn't “break” yourself. I calm myself down with the thought that being free, I can help more people.

It is really important for me to help people. I don`t know where it comes from – probably from childhood and my family. Sometimes I feel the need to go back home to the Tverskaya region, where my parents live and where my roots are, in order to get my strength back to continue moving forward.

What helped you to overcome your fears when you started doing charity work?
When my friend, who had two children, got sick and went into that hospice, I had a realization. I realized that these people need me somehow and I must pray for those who passed away. Nothing stops after life. As a person with faith, I understand that everything happens for a reason, God brings you to it. You understand that everyone has their own path. If you can come, give a hand, smile, help with something, support – then it was meant that way. When you open the New Testament or prayer book, sitting by the side of a sick person, even if they can`t open their eyes anymore, you know that they can hear you, at this moment you can feel that you are not alone, some powers help you. It came to me naturally without any pressure or anguish.

Yes, we have a daughter and we are very busy, but there is always time in our life to do things like this.

How would you define the word “charity”?
To create good – good for other people.

It happens sometimes that you “hold out” your hand, but the person doesn't want to take it. They stay where they are, it is convenient for them to sit and not move. And here, working with people we are in charge of, we can see the response and changes that happen in the lives of people. It is very important.

I don’t feel the need to do charity, but rather the potential in it. When you want to take part in some important and good thing, the strength comes to you.

I am very grateful to all the people we have met, that we have been going hand in hand with, hearing each other and understanding each other. Andrey always supports my ideas, even the most insane ones, and helps bring them to life. He is more of a person who does things, gets into the situation and takes charge. It is really great to have a person like this in your life, a like-minded person.

What should a charitable organization be like?
As in any organization, you need the people who work there to be passionate about what they do. When a person is interested in what they do, they can engage others too.

There are some things that you can strictly organize, write down in detail, and have everything planned with all the figures. But sincerity and openness come first and foremost. And Perspektivy possesses it – sincerity, openness and transparency. That is why we support them, the result is visible.

People need to understand what you do and what the raised money is spent on.

Charitable organizations are not always “transparent”. Perspektivy, for example, very meticulously cares for each of the people they are in charge of, working hard to try to make their life better. From educating their employees to brushing the teeth of the children, and providing for their school education. What is more, they are working on changing the regulations and protecting the rights of these people. This kind of work is not always visible but is very important.

It is much easier to build playgrounds and open them very pompously. Come to Razdolye (in the village of Razdolye, «Perspektivy» has opened a house of assisted living as an alternative to the big psycho-neurological asylums), to see how people live, how they learn something new every day. Unfortunately, it is not so interesting for most people.

As they say, “even a teardrop of a single child isn’t worth a war”. You need to talk to the people in the asylum to realize the importance of it. One of them is Dima. He is very responsible and clever and always talks about how he tries to do everything by himself and what he wants to learn next. There are a lot of people who think this way in the asylum. They really need it.

How does one come to the realization that help is important and much needed?
It is important to realize that disabled people are people just like us. They are kind, affectionate and open, they really take to you. We need to speak and write more about disabled people, their lives, the importance of all the projects we do. It motivates people. When you are inspired with the idea yourself, you attract like-minded people who join in and also start to help. They get this energy by looking at us. We had a 30th anniversary of our marriage recently and invited a lot of guests. We showed a video of the people we work with and asked our friends instead of presents to donate money to the foundation, and everyone agreed.

A lot of people want to help but don’t know how. They think that the only way to help is to go to the asylum or orphanage. It is not like this – you can help remotely. People are different, for some it is truly difficult. But I believe that if you want to help, you will find a way.

Why give and share with other people?
We are only guests in this world, we don`t need much. In every person’s life there is an accumulative period, when you need to provide yourself with everything you need. And then comes the moment when you say “ok, this is enough, now I need to give”. You feel really happy doing it. And you can share this happiness with someone. You can have an interesting, conscious, free and happy life, if only you are not concentrated on material values.