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Health, Poverty
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Asia, South Asia
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Aging, Bangladesh, Society, Traditions
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Respecting one’s parents and living with them in the same home is one of the integral parts of Bangladesh’s value system. However, nowadays there are more people placing their parents in the homes for the elderly. This project strives to represent the elderly view on our social structure and their expectations from us.
Khaled Hasan

2009 — student award of excellence

Old home is a very new discourse in our society. It has not been practiced in our society for a long time, but over the course of time, such a practice is increasing day by day. Being a traditional society, the people in Bangladesh have their own values and customs. Respecting one’s parents and living with them in the same home is one of the integral parts of our country’s value system. However, nowadays there are more people placing their parents in the homes for the elderly. It is being said that traditional societies adopt such a practice because of globalization. In the West, this is not an uncommon practice.

We, the young and working class of our society, claim that we are working to create a better future and society for our next generation. While claiming this, we ignore the people who have created the present. We forget about the contribution of the last generation, and the sacrifices they have made for us. What you sow, you will reap. We are setting an example for the next generation by what we do today. And in this way, are we not teaching them to do the same with their ancestors as we did to ours?

As we move through the twenty-first century, one of the most dramatic changes in population is in the increase of the number of elderly people and their lack of social support. This causes a more stressful life in their old age. If we claim to work for society, then surely the elderly are the most important part of the society we work for. It was because of their experience and support that we were able to establish ourselves in this world.

In the developed countries we want to get rid of our duties and responsibilities by sending them to the homes for the elderly and then visiting once in a month. Let us look back to our past; according to our traditional Bengali culture, all our families used to live together. Now, the practice of living together is becoming extinct. People prefer to live individually. Due to our competitive life, living separately is being practiced more. This causes frustration and gives less social support for our elderly. In some cases, this precious section of society are being neglected by their own family, as some families think that they are a burden to our modern and fast-moving lifestyles.

In fact, mostly in city areas, people are becoming more mechanized, busy, and loaded with jobs. But we never think about our parents who have always been with us. We don’t want to spend our valuable time on this happiness.

Being a documentary photographer I would like to represent the elderly view on our social structure and their expectations from us. Photography has the visual power to educate by allowing us to enter the lives and experiences of these socially neglected people. Through my photography I have tried to show their unseen emotion and pain.

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The earth beneath is firm, the stick held by the hand is strong, the dry leaves on the floor are uprooted, and HER shadow distanced from HER home… Once an inhabitant of Bikrampur; 93 years old, Anjuman Begum lives now at this old age home. And she wonders with the word, “home”. Anjuman says strongly, “I want my body buried here; in this home. I have made my funeral preparations as well.” She had sighed before she left, ‘unfortunate!’ Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
Not even a pillow. A bench of width: one and half feet, length: 5 feet…, a yard at your house could rest her in peace. She could be happy reasoning that she is within her family. But the fact is she feels alone when she remembers her previous day, where she had everything. Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
“I was waiting for my son and he didn’t turn up again. It’s been 22 days now.” 89 years old, Munnujan Bewa has counted her days here at this old age home. Mother of 3 sons and 3 daughters, Munnujan was tricked by her son as she knew not she would be left out in this old home. She was told by her son that she came to a hospital for her health check-up. She is still counting her days. And her tears remain uncounted. Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
The room remains lit up at night even after they go to sleep. The old eyes need some more light to see; the old, haggard, tired bodies need some comfort to rest; and the old, gloomy minds need their families to cheer them up. They are now resting in peace. Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
“I don’t have family since I am still a bachelor,” smiled 73 years old, Mr. Ajim, and the barber cautioned him since he was being shaved. “I have deadlier injury in my leg from Mortar shells,” showed Mr. Ajim, who contributed to the liberation war in 1971 as a spy for the Bangladeshi Freedom Fighters. Hair-cut and shaving is arranged for the old home dwellers twice in a month. Old people enjoy it. Abdul Ajim said, “I love staying here. I have got many friends here.” Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
They think almost the same. Both of them think about departure. One accepted the fact. Another saddened by the set back. Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
Do you know Kulsum Bibi (an active freedom fighter of our liberation war…) while you slogan for your corrupted leaders, claiming them “great freedom fighters”? You would say, no. Why? Is it because she migrated from Myanmar to the then East Pakistan in 1963 and lost hearing power while participating in the Liberation War for our country in 1971? Is it because she was exiled to live in the old age home after being looted by our fellow Bangladeshis? Did you not hear she cried? Do you hear she cries? Are we not deaf? Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
Praying in the sacred manner. In a misty moment to the mysterious God before the momentous meeting with the Almighty. When they pray, they think about their second life; after their death it will start. So they pray from their own soul. Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
These eyes are dimming. They don't have any more hope. Neither from her family, nor from herself. Life is waiting to stop. At 75 years old, Momena Khatun is the person who has lived here the longest - since the age of 13. She was married when she was a child of 7 years. Her husband died after one month of marriage. She was not married again. But she didn’t think about her future - that when she became old she would have no one to take care of her. Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation
For when we start, we have to end. And this journey towards end is not slow. This happens in a flash. You revisit every memory of your life, from birth till death, within the quickest of time. And those who lived behind would hurry you down to earth, to your final home. And then, no more old age home. No more homes. Khaled Hasan/Alexia Foundation