Years back I saw photos from orphanages in Eastern Europe for the first time. They depicted children from the early 90s; children born around the same time as I. The photos of these lonely children affected me; their eyes, the bars of their beds and the many crew-cut heads. I could not let go of these images. I had to explore how the institutions looked today.
“The Neglected” explores the emotional life hiding behind the walls of an old institution for disabled boys in the town Orhei in Europe’s poorest country, Moldova. The 200 boys and men who live in the institution are all physically or mentally disabled. They are being cared for by an understaffed but hard-working crew of female social workers.
My curiosity was piqued by how the boys managed daily life in the orphanage. How did they communicate and express themselves? How did they react when they faced anxiety, happiness or depression? In “The Neglected” I searched for the special moments where you could see universal emotions recognizable by every human being.
Poverty is the primary factor for their parents feeling forced to hand over their boys to the orphanage. Left in the hands of the system the one thing the boys have in common is the lack of care and attention from a family – affection that is crucial to their development.
In order to protect the boys, institutional policy requires their names to remain anonymous.