Many patients were left there for petty crimes like stealing a chicken, or for no other reason than there had no where to live, or provide for themselves. The only way to not be overwhelmed was to keep shooting pictures. I spent a week here. The stench in some areas of the hospital were so awful, like a physical presence it followed me wherever I went.
It was freezing and damp, medieval in many ways. The following year I took a youth group back to decorate some of the hospital. It was a moving experience to see a bunch of teenagers begin to see things differently as they were exposed to such intense human need. I remember feeling so pleased each day painting the rooms only to find the damp walls coming through the paint the following day.
One time we made stencils from potatoes and dipped them in green paint to create a border of leaves on the wall. Behind me I heard a crunching noise, turned and saw a man looking back to me eating the green potato. I don’t think any of us spoke as he drifted back into the dark corridor.