life in a monastery


“I cried every night. For a month, two, three months. This is not for me, I can’t get used to it.” – Anya was seventeen when she lost her parents and was sent to a convent. When she arrived it was already winter. The covent was сut off from the town by heavy snowfalls. It was surrounded by the frozen Seliger lake and endless white will. She felt very lonely on this island where she had to obey the new rules and forget about secular life. Anya is sharing a room with a Ukrainian refugee, a disabled woman who, like other women in the convent, came here to seek help in moments of hopelessness. This place is a salvation for many women and kids who were left alone.







Masha was born in the convent and lives with her mother and two other kids in one room. She is very amateur for her six years. She knows how to respect and help the others, and takes care of a blind woman living next to her. When nuns give her orders, she never protests. But after completing all the tasks Masha loves to dance, play with her toys, do her homework and imagine her grown-up life. In a city with her mum.






The novices have a day full of duties around the convent so they don’t have time for self-pity or guilty thoughts. That winter Anya was trying to call social services and ask them to find another place for her. Masha was going to school and thinking about becoming a seamstress. Two years passed and the girls are still in the convent, in this place hidden from everyone’s eyes praying for the others and their own hopes.





All images @ Katerina Anchevskaya
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