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Svetlana Village Offers Therapeutic Refuge

Published: June 8, 2004 (Issue # 975)



  • Coworkers and villagers at Svetlana bake in the kitchen. Many of the products they eat are produced on their own farm.
    Photo: Jennifer Davis / For The St. Petersburg Times

SVETLANA, Leningrad Oblast - Some 160 kilometers east of the hustle and bustle of St. Petersburg, nestled in the fertile, river-crossed lands surrounding Lake Ladoga, exists a small, unassuming community named Camphill-Svetlana.

Usually called simply Svetlana, the village is home to an international group of nearly 40 people who are transforming the landscape for Russians with disabilities.

Svetlana, a fully-integrated community for people with special needs, is the only one of its kind in Russia. It was founded in 1992 as a joint venture between a group of Russians and the Camphill Village Trust of Norway, and is affiliated to the international Camphill organization.

Almost 100 village communities in Europe, the United States, Canada, Africa and India are members of the organization that was launched in 1939 by Austrian pediatrician Karl Koenig. Camphill aims to establish communities where each person contributes to village life to the best of their ability, regardless of any mental or physical handicap.

"The idea behind Svetlana Village and all Camphill communities is to recreate social life," said Svetlana's British director, Mark Barber. "In modern society, people are increasingly lonely and living ever-more anti-social lives. The wonderful thing about Camphill is that it's such a positive attempt to recreate the world. Many people, both those with special needs and volunteers, have found their salvation here."

FARMING IDYLL

Traditional village life revolves around the farm, and Svetlana Village is no exception. Its farm has a barn housing 10 dairy cows and several pigs, an adjoining dairy to process milk, cheese and other products, a garden, grain fields, a herb workshop and an earth cellar. A bakery and doll workshop are also on site.

People with special needs, who are referred to as "villagers" live together with volunteers, referred to as "co-workers" in three separate houses, where they share meals and various household duties like food preparation and cleaning. A fourth house is under construction thanks to a donation from the Village Trust of Norway.

The disabled, who were reasonably well looked after in Soviet times, have little support in contemporary Russia.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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