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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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