Photographer's Note

Since Lithuania became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991 the country has gone through a huge and painful reconstruction, moving from a centrally controlled planned economy to a liberal market economy.

A small urban elite has gone rich, and a fairly well off middle class is growing in the cities, but for the vast majority in the countryside and also in the cities life is very hard, maybe especially so for older people. They spent their active years during Soviet rule, when life was hard but a basic social security was guaranteed. By the time they retired the security network was gone.

The monthly pension in Lithuania can be as low as about 120 Euros, or 160 USD. Since the cost of living is not much lower than in Western Europe, many pensioners find it hard to make ends meet.

Although poverty didn't look quite as grim as further south, like in some countries of the Balkans, this woman that I saw in the hip, graffiti-sprayed central part of the capital Vilnius seemed quite typical.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12407 W: 572 N: 23825] (101946)
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