Social Documentary Photographer Gunta Podina is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the ‘Rural Living Latvia’ project. To see Gunta’s body of work click on any image.
Rural Latvia is undergoing demographic change. As young people leave the countryside the population is becoming older and while there is a strong attachment to the rural scene the people living there are becoming increasingly marginalized.
Retirees are experiencing a very challenging economic times. They have survived war, deportation, exile and kolkhozes at Soviet Union time.
When Latvia broke from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991 economic developments had a tremendous impact on the pension system in Latvia. Economy withered in 2008 as a credit bubble burst and the global crisis struck. Working pensioners’ pensions were reduced by 70%, all other pensions have been cut by 10%.
Now, more than a third of the pensioners live in poverty, receiving pensions that does not cover such necessaries as clothes and medicine. Most of the elderly do not want to feel like a burden to their family and others. Therefore, old people are working hard to get an extra income. Those, who have a garden, are growing vegetables and fruits to get some food on their table. Some of them try to help their children with the minimum they have.
The elderly, who are single and live alone and those who are not longer mobile, choose to spend their lives in senior’s Nursing Home. The living costs there are covered partly by pensioner’s pensions, partly by the local government and partly by relatives. Pensioner gets only 10% of amount of his/her pension.
All images © Gunta Podina
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