The lonely Yosef Dorozhko

In-the-darkAbout a week ago we met a wonderful man by the name of Yosef. I spotted him from my car while he was pushing his bicycle up a hill. Immediately I wanted to photograph him. I turned the car around, caught up to Yosef and asked him if I could take a few photos. He smiled and said to go ahead.

We spoke a bit, after learning that Yosef was 81 I was a little shocked. His bike journey wasn’t an easy one, even for a young person (there was lots of pedaling up hills to be done) and here he was carrying on very casually. I sorta invited myself over to his house and asked if I could take a few more photos there. He didn’t mind.

And so began our friendship with Yosef. It turned out that his life had taken a very unfortunate turn of late. He lost his wife and both of his sons fairly recently. He also lost his apartment in the neighboring Latvia, because the cost of all the bills exceeded his meager pension. Yosef had to go back to Belarus, to live in the house where he was born 81 years ago. To make his story more sad, the house where he now lives is fairly isolated and ever since his parents built it, there has never been any electricity. Yosef makes light with Kerosene lamps and instead of watching TV, he reads, prays and talks to his cats.

The crazy thing is, he never really complains about anything. He doesn’t drink uncontrollably, like many younger and much more fortunate people in the neighboring villages. He just goes on about his life the best he can, still managing to crack an occasional smile along the way. Yosef inspired me by his resilience and it seems like our visits to his home have given him a reason to crack that smile more frequently. Tanya and I have gone to talk to the authorities and hopefully he will have electricity some time in the not too distant future.

Dedulya-working-2 Yosef has a horse. It was time for him to work on the land during one of our visits and of course that presented a great photo opportunity.RainbowI got pretty lucky during my little photo-shoot. It had been raining most of the day, but soon after I arrived at Yosef’s house there was an opening in the sky. I got some good light and even a rainbow.

By-the-ovenYosef adjusts fire-wood in the oven which he himself made. He was heating up a kettle to make tea for us.


Tea time. Yosef sets up the tea glasses and the food for his guests.

Meeting people like Yosef again reminds me of how lucky I am to be doing what I do. These countless chances to meet inspirational people are something I enjoy immensely and when there is an opportunity to have a positive impact on the life of someone like Yosef, that’s sort of like the essence of being human.

More images to come.


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13 Responses to “The lonely Yosef Dorozhko”

  1. Erin Wilson Says:

    The light in those last two shots is stunning.
    But really, it’s your investment in Yosef that is even more wonderful.

  2. Serge Van Cauwenbergh Says:

    Gorgeous light in the shots you show us. But also important is the heartwarming story!

  3. ghettoblackify Says:

    interesting photos

  4. Monte Stevens Says:

    Wonderful story and images, again with your distinct lighting. Many of us in this Western culture have a difficult time acknowledging people live without electricity and running water. It warms me to know you know you consider him a friend. Thanks for sharing!

  5. karlsimon Says:

    Beautiful shots! I love the fireplace one. Its really nice to read the story behind them too.

  6. Mitchell Says:

    Thanks for the comments folks, as always your feedback is much appreciated.

  7. olesja Says:

    I forgot how beautiful my country and it’s people are. Thanks for reminding:)

  8. Jeffrey Chapman Says:

    I’m loving your stories as much as your photos!

  9. bhaskarsahay Says:

    Absolutely love your blog!! I find your writing very inspiring!! Keep it coming!! Cheers.

  10. Diego Jose Says:

    Mitchell, for some reason this might be my favorite post you’ve ever put up. I just love your stories in both photos and words.

    Fanboy-ish as it sounds, I hope to someday meet you and hear more of them.

    Looking forward to more great stuff. Cheers from the Philippines.

  11. Michelle Says:

    I want to have tea with Yosef! 🙂

  12. Mitchell Says:

    Thanks again for all the comments folks!

  13. Tobi Says:

    Great story. I just came here from, you linked from the last image. Keep in touch with Yosef, I bet you’re as valueable for him as he is for you.


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