On an autumn day, the directors* of the Mashhad’s Care Facility for the Acute Mentally Disabled Girls asked me to visit them. Most of the girls had been abandoned by their parents on street corners and were brought by somebody to this charity center. Some unfortunate ones had spent many years in quarantine.
I did not know what to expect. When I got there, the shift supervising nurse alerted me to the fact that seeing the disabled youth maybe somewhat hard to stomach. That worried me a bit, but I had already decided to go through with the visitation.
They led me to a two hundred square meter salon where the girls stayed. There stood beds, each surrounded by long metal bars and in those beds, each occupying child ate, slept and answered the nature’s call.
This type of life is called a vegetative growth. Those kids had no concept of how much -and what to eat. They ate anything they were given even if that ended up killing them. You could try teaching them, but they had extreme difficulty learning.
For three consecutive months after my initial visit, I made it a daily errand of mine to see those girls right after work, especially the quarantined ones. I found out that, despite their vegetative states, they understood things and had things to say. They wanted to protest and shout but could not.
I mainly got close to one quarantined girl and took nearly a thousand photo of her in those three months. Feeling-wise, the last picture that I took of her was by far the most difficult. One day, I got to the center and found out that, after many years of suffering, she had passed away only five minutes before my arrival. On that day, I had a vision of her surrounded by rays of light.
© Ardavan Roozbeh
* The center is managed by a charitable husband and wife couple, both doctors. Their only source of funding to shelter and feed the girls is through individual contributions.