At the age of 18, the Pavlovsk children are moved into one of St. Petersburg’s residential adult homes and remain there until they die; one such home is located in Peterhof, which lies on the southern shores of the Gulf of Finland, 30km from St. Petersburg.
Around one thousand disabled, mentally ill, former homeless and old people live in an understaffed facilirt in cramped conditions. One untrained carer looks after 30 residents, a ration that is worse than in Pavlovsk. Those residents, not being able to move without help, are left in bed and only taken out once a week to be bather. In some cases, this has led to worse disability even deformed limbs.
The State provides the residents with a uniform, a bed, a bedside table, three meals a day and a bath once a week. Residents receive little or no attention and have nothing to occupy their time. The building itself is in a very poor state and the long, dark, lifeless corridors are freezing in the winter.
From 1999, Russian staff regularly visited our former Pavlovsk “children” in this home and, since September 2000, a team of German and Russian volunteers has been working there. This project developed rapidly in 2001 and 2002. At present we have seven volunteers working with 60 disabled residents in both the men’s and the women’s sections. Although this is a great improvement, there are still a huge number of residents with whom we could work, if we had the resources.
Concurrent to starting work with the residents, additional rooms were equipped for education and practical work and other leisure time activities. Residents are now able to undertake a range of these. Both the woodwork and craft workshops are popular, as is the educational centre. There are also several workshops where the creative potential of the residents is explored. There is a small theatre, an art studio and a music and rhythm workshop. Te talent that the residents show is quite amazing; art exhibitions and theatre performances are becoming regular occurrences. Some of the residents also work as life monitors, as part of the renovation team, cleaning the workshops or in the recently opened café. Thanks to support from Caritas Dresden we have been able to open a small launderette, where residents can wash their own clothes, as an alternative to wearing the home’s identical “uniform-pyjamas”.
Since we began our work in Peterhof, the amazing change in the residents themselves is proof enough that each and every person there is capable of developing and deserves that chance. We want to sustain and where possible expand our work there but this requires money and resources.