International Children’s Day (1 June 2017) saw the launch of the music video for the single “Angel of Faith” by Russian stars Vasiliy Vakulenko (Basta) and Polina Gagarina, in which Natalia Vodianova is also involved. The video is available exclusively through Apple Music. All proceeds from downloads will go to the Naked Heart Foundation, which provides support to families of children with special needs.
The video, which was directed by popular Moscow-based photographer and director Timofey Kolesnikov, was created as part of the ongoing “Don’t be silent” project and touches on the hot topic of the abandonment of children with disabilities. Without the necessary support or knowledge, families often feel incapable of raising children with conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and other special needs and leave them in the care of closed state institutions. To this day, the issue remains “invisible”- an inconvenient truth that is discussed very little in society. The “Angel of Faith” video draws public attention to the problem.
According to official statistics from early 2016, more than 19,000 children in Russia with mental and intellectual developmental disabilities are living in 130 residential children’s institutions and another 1,000 or so are living in 13 special institutions for children with physical disabilities.
Furthermore, more than 70% of those children have living parents and 30% were placed in institutions at the request of their parents. Those parents continue to receive social support and retain their parental rights, despite the fact that they never visit their children at the homes. It is these children who suffer the most because, in principle, they have no chance of escaping the system and finding a family home.
Natalia Vodianova: “Not all children in institutions are orphans – the majority end up in children’s homes because their parents are in financial difficulty, and/or do not have the necessary knowledge or access to qualified social and psychological support. I know from personal experience that in our country the birth of a child with special needs significantly undermines a family’s chances of having a normal life. However, huge amounts of money are spent every year on keeping these children in state institutions, rather than investing in a family support system. Through the release of “Angel of Faith”, we are aiming to draw as much attention as possible to this issue and underline how vital it is for families to receive state support. We can all contribute. Don’t remain indifferent, because you can make sure that a child who is locked away in one of these institutions can find a loving family.”
Vasiliy Vakulenko, songwriter: “The best expression of empathy is real help. When you realise that you have helped someone, that you have made a difference – it is a form of self-improvement.”
Polina Gagarina: “We wrote the song in one sitting. And we made the video with the same kind of energy. It turned out to be really simple and minimalistic. In order to reach the millions of people who could help these children, we needed that level of effort and energy.”
Timofey Kolesnikov, director: “I found out about attitudes towards children with disabilities first-hand. I visited one of those infamous closed institutions in Yekaterinburg. One of the photos of me there ended up as the cover for the “Angel of Faith” single. I tried to use my feelings of shock and pain at being helpless and unable to do anything, and transform those emotions into the energy of the Angel of Faith video.”
The “Angel of Faith” single was first released in December 2016. It was written to support the ongoing “Don’t be silent” project and the Naked Heart Foundation’s Every Child Deserves a Family programme, which the Foundation has been running since 2011 with the aim of fostering the creation of an inclusive society that is accessible to people with disabilities.
Watch the video here on Apple Music.
History of the project
The “Don’t be silent” project kicked off with the release of the first music video in Russia to feature a little girl with special needs. The video for Dima Bilan’s hit single, which involved Natalia Vodianova, Evgeniye Brik and Nika Kirillova, who has Down’s syndrome, not only caused a huge public response, but was a turning point in the country’s history. It was the first time that a music video had drawn so much public attention to the issue of people with developmental disabilities and the problems they and their families face.
The video was voted best music video of the year by millions of viewers and was awarded Best Video prize at the Russian Muz-TV 2016 awards, which took place on 10 June 2016 in Moscow. A dancing flashmob was launched to support the video. Using the hashtag #dontbesilent Natalia Vodianova, Dima Bilan and Yana Rudkovskaya posted a video of the dance from the music video and then invited everyone to join in and share their stories. Thousands of people from all over Russia and abroad joined in the dance, including representatives from a number of NGOs working with children with special needs, student and theatre clubs and the parents and friends of people with disabilities. In several towns and cities around Russia, fans gathered in central squares to dance together in support of the “Don’t be silent” project.
Russian rap artist Basta has already highlighted the issue of disability – in October 2016 the “Important for kids” project presented a cartoon called “About Dima” featuring the voice of the musician’s eldest daughter Masha. The project addresses fundamental issues relating to children with special needs and touches on the themes of friendship, acceptance and understanding.
>>> Watch the music video for “Angel of Faith”…
>>> Find out more about the Every Child Deserves a Family programme…
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