Paradise

 The small town of Elatma, on the river Oka, some 300 kilometers east of Moscow, is home to six institutions for the mentally disabled. Photo by Anastasia Rudenko

The small town of Elatma, on the river Oka, some 300 kilometers east of Moscow, is home to six institutions for the mentally disabled. Photo by Anastasia Rudenko

The small town of Elatma, on the river Oka, some 300 kilometers east of Moscow, is home to six institutions for the mentally disabled. The clinics date back to World War II, when they were established as orphanages for children who had lost their parents during the war. Over time, the institutions came instead to shelter children with mental disabilities, whose parents had abandoned them at birth, or those taken into care from the homes of alcoholics or drug addicts. Most residents have spent all their lives in this institutionalized setting, but they do sometimes go beyond the walls, out among the other citizens of Elatma.

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