Dina Magnat

One day on livejournal I clicked on a post where Dima Markov, whose photographs I had admired for a long time, requested the help of a photographer-volunteer. Assistance was needed to photograph an evening school for correctional orphanages graduates.

That’s how I found out about Step Up. I came, and stayed. Sometimes I come to the church completely exhausted, sit in the office with tea and biscuits and in an hour or so I realise that my strength is returning. It’s an enchanting place.

Whenever I talk with students from Step Up I am struck by their unbelievable strength. You just have to imagine for a moment – since childhood they have had no one: they have always lived in an institution, in a group.

Simply to grow up in such circumstances and not be broken, not become bitter or despair, requires strength. And to strive upwards, work with yourself, study and achieve something – that is unbelievable strength.

I don’t know how they managed in childhood, but now they are not alone. Now they have a place to come, a place where they are expected, and where they will be accepted. That’s exactly what is key to Step Up – people are always expected, and always accepted.