The Armenian girl and her Resignation Syndrome

The Armenian girl and her Resignation Syndrome

Telling a story in a single image

The captivating portrait of an Armenian girl with Resignation Syndrome – a disorder in which children overwhelmed by trauma slip into a coma-like state – has been shedding light on the disease after its author, Polish photographer Tomek Kaczor was nominated for the 2020 World Press Photo Of The Year.

PanARMENIAN.Net - In a conversation with PanARMENIAN.Net Kaczor revealed the story behind the picture, how he learned about the 15-year-old girl and went on to receive such recognition for his work.

A powerful story worth to be told

I originally took the photo for an article about the syndrome and 15-year-old Ewa, which sought to educate the public about a mysterious condition that definitely needs more coverage and attention.

Resignation Syndrome (RS) renders patients passive, immobile, mute, unable to eat and drink, incontinent and unresponsive to physical stimulus. It affects psychologically traumatized children in the midst of lengthy asylum processes. Remission and gradual return to normal function occurs after life circumstances improve.

The author of the article met the family several times while Ewa was still in catatonia, and they got to know each other better. I met Ewa and her family a few weeks after she started to "wake up", somewhere in June 2019. We first met when I came with my camera to them, and we have been in touch ever since.

The road to recovery

Ewa is the second girl deported from Sweden to Poland in a catatonic state, but the disease is still not very well known by many.

She had "slept" for 8 months (of which around 6 months in Poland), which means the disease started around October 2018 in Sweden.

Following their deportation, Ewa gradually got better thanks to her parent's care, but the whole story is still very difficult for her and her family to remember, so all of us have resolved to only look to the future.

The photo is the first one I have ever submitted for any competition and brought me my first nomination with the World Press Photo although I have been working as a photographer for the past 12 years.

Inclusion and social justice as reform tools

My friends and I started Magazyn Kontakt 12 years ago as a platform that covers exclusion, minority rights and social justice.

We believe that it is possible to build a society that goes beyond economic, political, cultural and religious divisions. At Magazyn Kontakt, we are convinced that one cannot live a full life if they experience situations that dehumanize them and limit their freedom.

So although the article about Ewa and the photo were not created for Kontakt, I believe that creating the magazine has given me an appropriate sensibility to such topics.

The girl and her family’s whereabouts and further details from their life will not be disclosed in a bid to protect their right to privacy.

Srbuhi Martirosyan / PanARMENIAN.Net
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