Tuesday, October 7, 2014

aging romania

Romania's population is getting older with each generation. Economic instability and lack of job prospects have decreased the country's birthrate and at the same time people simply live longer than they used to 100 or even 50 years ago. Romania's aging population is a topic of public discussion but only in terms of money. Pension fund deficits are making news headlines at least twice a year within governmental budget decisions. Public policies regarding the elderly though are seldom thought of, let alone planned and approved by public authorities.

The “Aging Romania” project is attempting to explore the universe of longevity and at least partly answer the question “How exactly is Romania aging” or better said “Is longevity a gift in our country or rather a commodity that expires if people's money run out”. The mosaic of portraits (project ongoing) tries to provide an in depth look at life at the golden age and also identify faulty mechanisms that need fixing through public policies.

See full project here: www.romaniaimbatraneste.ro

Ioana Paunescu, 101 and Ion Paunescu, 101, Bucharest
Both widowers, Ioana and Ion Paunescu got married when they were 73 years old. It was not out of love, but out of a mutual need and desire not to grow old alone. Two years ago, Ion Paunescu got Alzheimer.

Leorda elder care centre, Botosani county 
The elder care centre in Leorda is a state own facility. Its personnel consists of one medical nurse and two care assistants per each twelve hours shift. They have to attend to almost 70 persons.

The voters

On May 25th, 2014 the European Parliament elections were held in Romania. The most constant voter segment were, again, the elders. Usually, the only reason they would miss on voting is illness. Therefore, they are an extremely influent segment when it comes to deciding the country’s political future and at the same time, the target for campaign promises.

Burzusi family, Hetea village 
Gheorghe Burzusi, 59 is the Roma representative in his village, inhabited by 136 families. He has a very numerous family, most of his children and grandchildren still living in Hetea as well. Their most vivid desire is for their village to have one more water supply.

Niculina Ion, 92, Salcioara village 
Niculina Ion became a widow when she was 30 years old and never remarried. Since then, she lives alone in her 8 square meter kitchen. Is not that her house doesn’t have any more rooms, it’s just she does not know what to do with more space. She is religious, but lately she hasn’t gone much to church, because she did not have money to give to the priest for his services.

Francisc Barabas, 76, Petrila 
Francisc Barabas worked most of his life in a coal mine. Even after going into pension, he did not stop working. He went for ten years in Hungary and another 4 in Austria, where he worked as a mason. Now, he helps around here and there and takes care of his sick wife.  

Costache Herescu, 72, Mihai Eminescu village 
Costache Herescu lived all his life in the village Mihai Eminescu, Botosani county. These days, the village counts only six inhabitants. His wife died one and a half years ago, so he spends his time among the few animals he has left and working in the garden.

Dimon family, Predeal 
Vasile Dimon is 57 and he is unemployed. Thousands of people aged over 50 are unsuccessfully looking for a job in Romania. The Dimon family was lucky enough that their own daughter and son in law were able to support them for a period of time, until Vasile’s wife got her pension. 

Ioan Dobrescu, 78, Poiana Marului 
Since Ioan Dobrescu lost his wife, he cannot find his place in his own home. Even if he is surrounded by his children and grandchildren who come to visit regularly, it’s when evening comes that he feels the loneliest. 

Ivascu family, Buzescu village 
Sevastiana and Nicolae Ivascu have raised three children. They all left to work in Spain because they could not find any jobs either in Buzescu or Alexandria, the closest town, to allow them to offer a good life to their children. Sevastian and Nicolae Ivascu starting parenting again by raising two of their granddaughters.  They do have financial help from the girls’ mother, who sends money each month.

In the Romanian rural communities, there’s a real battle going on for keeping the old traditions. Together with Romania entering the European Union come sets of rules and regulations that contradict the ways the elders see things done. The most rooted traditions manage to stay alive, while others change or simply disappear.

 Full project here: www.romaniaimbatraneste.ro