Ward Number Laughter
Moscow/Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 2009-2013
Joint project by Oksana Yushko and Arthur Bondar

My grandfather always said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Taking the first step is all it takes. Everyone always has a choice which path to follow. You don’t have to go far to give your love. Just take a look around, and you will definitely find a person in need of your help or your smile at the least.
Smiles are often the starting point in a photographers’ dialogue. Foreign volunteers that visit orphanages, hospitals and nursing houses usually don’t speak any Russian, and their smiles become the first instrument they use, the first step in making a connection.
Your life becomes easier, when you are no longer afraid of being silly in the eyes of other people. Becoming part of this process by wearing clown costume and smiling at strangers results in a much richer experience, as opposed to just staying behind the lens.
It is difficult to recall the faces of each and every man, woman and child that we met, but we do remember the smiles we saw on their faces. By deciding to be an active participant, rather than a documentary photographer, you realize that some of the things that are happening depend on you as well, personally.
And not a single moment was spent in vain: every single touch, every sound of laughter, every flash of desire to ease away another person’s pain and give them some comfort – all of them are reflected back around the world. The more you think about these things, the more you want to give and share.