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Second Place
Daniel Kovalovszky Nepszabadsag

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Today, in Hungary, out of 10 million residents about 3 million are retired. A few years after Hungary joined the European Union, the standard of living for the elderly is much lower than in most other European countries. Significant segment lives in poverty, not being able to meet very basic needs. The Second World War and then 40 years of communist dictatorship killed their hope for a better and tranquil life. For the elderly, who because of their poor health cannot live an independent life and for whom their families cannot provide, often there is no other solution than to live in retirement or in nursing homes. The basic role of these institutions is to care for and nurse the aged and the sick. However, to remove old people form their familiar surroundings, from their families, can be an emotional shock, which some cannot survive, even though they may not suffer from illness. Even those who succeed in getting used to their new surroundings live isolated from the outside world. This feeling of isolation and of being closed in can wear people down both physically and emotionally. They cannot find their place; they lack self-respect and the feel of usefulness. The role of the family is taken over by the staff and by their fellow residents, however they cannot truly substitute the family. Although the institutions are open for visitors, there are not many of them. The residents can even leave for extended periods of time, but not many can afford it or have anybody to spend time with. What remains for most is the feeling of being let down until their dying days. FIRST PICTURE: Eszter (on the left) and her ladyfriend Klara, has been sharing a room for more than 10 years in a nursing home. They became friends from the day they met.Eszter considers Klara to be like her mother, since she only has one brother alive, who rarely visits her. She used to work for the Hungarian Mail as an accountant.Klara was the first resident of the home. When she was young, she worked as a taylor for her brother. She moved to the home with her husband, who used to be a lieutenant colonel, but he shot himself in the head a few months after they moved in. Klara lost her hearing due to the shock. She has been a widow for 16 years. 17/03/2004


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