“Given the dire state of press freedoms and high levels of corruption in the country, it is unlikely that the reality of life in an internat would be reported in the local press. Thus, I travelled to Belarus to learn about life in internats; to observe; to understand; to talk with people; and, where appropriate, to take photographs. But the stakes are high. Taking images in the internats is officially prohibited. I heard of a case where an NGO worker had photographed the abuse of an elderly woman. She was dragged along the floor naked by her elbows. When the directors of the internat found out, they banned the NGO from working there for three years. But if you judge the situation correctly – assess the different environments of the particular institution, and build relationships with the residents and staff – you start to realise that there are moments in which you can take pictures without being denied access. I felt strongly, because of both personal and political reasons, that there existed a story that could, and should, be told.”

Invisible People of Belarus by Jadwiga Brontē (2/4)

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