“Invinsible Belarus” by Jadwiga Bronte
After 30 years of the Chernobyl disaster Jadwiga Bronte documents the lives of people who suffer the consequences of the tragedy. The Polish-born photographer follows a group of disabled people who are living in “closed governmental institutions called ‘Internats’ which are something between an asylum, orphanage and hospice”. Internats are hidden from public view, and even some Belarusians themselves are unaware of the reality of life inside. These are places where tens of thousands of people spend their entire lives.
Jadwiga Bronte was born just couple weeks before the Chernobyl disaster several hundreds kilometers away of the epicenter of tragedy. Although the nuclear power accident occured on the territory of Ukraine the biggest damage has been done to the Republic of Belarus which has received (by different sources) from 60 to 75% of the Chernobyl radiation.
“I decided to go to Belarus to document the stories of horrifically neglected and abandoned children, born with mental and physical deficiencies from the aftermath of this tragic accident 30 years ago. During my investigations, what surprised me the most is that it wasn’t just victims of the Chernobyl disaster that were housed in these institutions. Disabled people in general are certainly still something of a taboo in Belarus, and often abandoning, or ‘giving them away’ is easier than being exiled from the local community, as it is believed that the parents are to blame for any physical or mental incapabilities of their children.”
These photos are a story of those people as human beings; as people who suffer and struggle against injustice everyday life; and as people who look after each other, build long lasting friendships, and even fall in love even within an environment that is far from civilized life. These invisible people stay invisible. There may be nobody to remember them after all, and a picture might be the only proof of their existence.
posted by Ksenia Les