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Gold 2020 Editorial / Photo Essay

Abandoned Elderly - Fragile Humans

  • Photographer
    Michele Zousmer

In Romania and Bulgaria, many older people are living on old collective farms, postcommunist. They live in crumbling houses in rural villages, far from family and friends. Days are spent foraging in the forest for wild mushrooms and berries, collecting firewood and corn for their few animals. Families visit rarely. Neighbors help when they can. These people are spending their last years enduring poverty, living alone and isolated! In America, our elderly are now facing death alone because of the pandemic. Few of us are prepared for the complexities of life and death.

I am a humanitarian and fine art photographer. I give voice to marginalized communities and witness to the human experience. My work celebrates each individual’s strength and beauty, as well as their vulnerability and spirit, going beyond how one presents oneself to the world. My mind, my eyes, and my heart have been opened by my experiences. My life has been forever changed. I hope my work inspires others to feel we all matter and to care more profoundly. Engaging in the world and becoming open to different ways of life allows for more conversation on diversity.