Children with disabilities: the Russian situation

An article  from  “Orthodoxy and the World“: a Russian Orthodox Church Website:

Do We Need Sick Children?

translated into English from Russian by Anastasia, May 3, 2007 – A Report on the issue of adequate socialization and adaptation of disabled children. 

This title is shocking; perhaps it is just a matter of the choice of words in translation; it would seem from the article itself that what Anastasia means by “sick children” really should be translated “children with chronic disabilities.”  Nevertheless, Anastasia goes on to demonstrate that in Russia many of the authorities who could be making a difference in the lives of these children simply write them off, simply because “they will always be this way.” This is truly a tragic mentality for a country known for its rich Orthodox Christian heritage. 

A Russian Institution

She reports that (as of 2007) most chidren with disabilities live on “reservations,” institutions which are generally in remote rural areas, away from where most people live, which makes it difficult for families to visit.

Two more web pages which describe the situation (the first is brief, the second more scholarly):

Russia’s lost children waiting to be found & A Socio-Spacial Analysis of the Mentally Disabled Population in Russia

Anastasia contends that help must first be given to the entire family of the child with disability, as the stress of trying to care for this child in such a generally unsupportive environment is very heavy and wearing, especially for the mothers.

Anastasia goes on to speak of the situations of individual children with disabilities, Max and Sophia, and quotes a twelve year old’s diary. The positive efforts of ministries such as Our Sunny World (Solnechny Mir) are cited, but are said to be far and few between in Russia

Also brought forth are Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos’ supportive words in regard to the worth of persons with disability, as well as the potent words of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will say to the faithful on the Day of Judgement: “I was sick you visited me.” These are the words we want to hear on that Day, and not the other, dreadful words to the contrary  which will speak to the dreadful reality of separation from Divine life to those who will hear them.

As St. Paul the Apostle says, in his first letter to the Corinthians 12: 19-22,

If all were a single organ, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable … 

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1 Cor.12:19-22 quoted fromBible Study Tools: 1 Corinthians
Picture from “Why would you want a defective child?”

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