The Joyful Hearts Ensemble, directed by Nun Sophia, operates under the aegis of the Convent. Its participants live in one of the boarding homes for people with special needs but they also happen to have very special talents. In spite of their mental and physical disadvantages, they are not depressed. They find consolation and peace in creativity.
Andrei Natalchuk, a soloist of this ensemble, is blind. He does not see this world but he can easily feel it with his heart. He expresses his feelings through songs.
“I like all songs,” he says. “Can there be such things as songs you don’t like? Each of the songs has its soul, and each of them is great in its own right!
Another soloist, Helena Zakharevskaya, shared her secret dream with us. “I like to sing on stage – people cheer us on and applaud. If only I could go to France! I’d be so happy! I dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, to climb it and look at the city from above. I would also like to be able to talk with the people who live there. Each trip is something to remember. We can meet new people and experience something new and fascinating!”
The Joyful Hearts Ensemble has already toured Russia. Now they plan to go to Western Europe and perform there.
Another important creative project run by St Elisabeth Convent is the Joy Inclusive Theatre. Alexander Zhdanovich, a renowned Belarusian actor, is its leader and director. This theatre gives about thirty children with special needs who live in the boarding home an opportunity to perform on stage. These children have Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, congenital traumas and other inborn disabilities. Despite their health issues, they have staged more than ten fairy tales in the twelve years of the theatre’s existence. They have performed not only in Belarus but also abroad. One of their most well-known performances is The Little Prince. “I would like us to perform well, so that everyone likes it… on a big and good stage,” Natallia, one of the participants, says. The stage for these actors is more than just a way to express themselves. It is a special little world, where they can forget about their mental and physical issues and feel like regular people for a while. The art of theatre improves the psyological and emotional condition of the little actors. It enhances their creative capacities, boosts their imagination and sensory movements. They also start to believe in themselves.