A Soviet-era project aimed at providing blind people in Russia with comfortable place to live and work is struggling to survive as state support has crumbled over the years. Sara Hemrajani reports.
This town, some 200 kilometres south of Moscow, was a Soviet project. Rusinovo was rebuilt decades ago to be a place where the blind could live and work comfortably. They were provided with housing and jobs at a local factory specially designed to meet their needs. Employees here used to make television sets, and then later toys and other smaller products. SOUNDBITE: Sergei Bykov, General Manager of Borovskoye Factory, saying (Russian): "The main goal of our factory is to be socially responsible, as the visually impaired are the most vulnerable category of disabled people. They can hardly find jobs at any other factories. Here, they have taken to the work like a duck takes to water, because we have special marks around the factory so they can get around. Everything is familiar to them." But in recent years, Russian state support has crumbled. Orders are said to be scarce as mechanised production is a much cheaper option. SOUNDBITE: Alina Marutina, Borovskoye Factory worker, saying (Russian): "It used to be very good, there were over a thousand people working here. They were given apartments and the work was good, everything was good then. But now only elderly people work here, probably because they don't want to stay at home. It is impossible to live only on one's pension, which hasn't been increased for quite a while." In the late 1970s, the factory employed about 600 people -- Now it's just a few dozen. And if government funding continues to dwindle, the residents of Rusinovo fear they could have nowhere else to work.