Sergei Stroitelev

Photographer
  
The Connection
Location: Chisinau
Nationality: Russian
Biography: I am a freelance photographer and visual artist based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia working with National Geographic Russia, VICE UK/USA, De Volkskrant, Takie Dela, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, others. My photographic practice primarily focuses on the... MORE
Public Story
The Connection
Copyright Sergei Stroitelev 2022
Updated Mar 2022
The series is a long-term photo story for which I followed a small but very special family over 4 months. A young woman, Nadya (32), was a volunteer at a psychoneurological dispensary near Saint-Petersburg 5 years ago. During this time she formed a strong bond with a boy called Fedya (16) who suffered from several neurological diseases, including autism and a mild form of cerebral palsy. As Nadya recalls, she saw cleverness and kindness in his eyes.

Some time later she realized that she wanted to adopt the boy. After a year of getting the runaround Nadya overcame bureaucratic hurdles, and now the two of them live together in a small single-bedroom apartment. Because Fedya cannot be left alone even for a minute, Nadya's life is completely dedicated to him. She feeds the boy, dresses him, brushes his hair, walks with him and reads to him, trying her best to make him as happier as possible. Sometimes the boy lashes out. Nadya explains this behavior by his previous hard life at the dispensary and by the incompetence of the working staff who used to beat the children. Fedya calms down when he feels affection and contact.

This story is not only about compassion but also about obligations taken for life. It must be mentioned that this family is a very rare case for Russia. It is almost impossible to find a person who adopted a child from a dispensary. Even if somebody considers the possibility of adoption, they usuaslly face terrible bureaucracy that prevents them from finishing procedure.
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