A tractor stuck in mud at the "Large Lawn", the former Lenin settlement in Csanytelek. Years ago they spent 6500 Euros on the design, permits and application required for preparing the renovation of three dirt streets of Csanytelek in particularly bad condition. The local government did not win the grant, because they failed to provide traffic count data and accident statistics to prove the need for a pavement. It is impossible to provide high traffic data to justify the necessity of renovating a road that is impassable during most of the year; nor do hay carts ever collide on a street where even jeeps get stuck.
István Kiss in his home that is surrounded by dirt roads in Tömörkény. His disability pension is 140 Euros. István passed away last year.
János's horse stands on the outskirts of Tömörkény.
József and his wife in front of their hut. The pair built an own hut after many years of the homelessness in Tiszaföldvár.
The wall of Lajos Kovács’ house. Most of those living in “Mud Country” have great difficulties maintaining their house.
Anna Sebők walks in front of her house at Csanytelek. She has been living here for the past 58 years. The majority of the youth move to nearby cities as soon as they can, resulting in a relatively high number of people living alone in “Mud Country”.
Old gravestones stand near the cemetery of Csanytelek.
Luca lives with her mother and grandfather in their home in Csanytelek, Csongrád County together with her five brothers. According to the latest data almost quarter of young children live in poverty in Hungary.
People living along the dirty roads say everything gets destroyed in the mud. The house, the car, the bikes and even the footwear.
At Csanytelek, in county Csongrád 35 per cent of the population lives along dirt roads. The village struggles with migration and the spread of poverty.
Weekend lunch at the Borsos family. The family must spend almost all their income on food and on raising the children, covering their most basic needs.
Janos poses with his dog at his farm in Csanytelek, Csongrád country. For the people who live along and near dirts road mud is a constant problem, just as well walking and getting around in mud.
Only a few families of “Mud Country” can afford to have livestock.
Lajos Kovács of Csanytelek at the forefront of his house, selecting springs of mattresses for selling them as metal waste. Besides poverty the village struggles with the inconvenience of dirt roads.
Damage caused by inland waters on the wall of the Darnai family’s house.
The 15-year-old Zsolt poses at his father’s farm near a farm settlement, Tomorkeny.
Ilona is a public worker. The only other source of income for their family is her husband’s invalidity benefits of 145 Euros per month. Living on a paid job is almost impossible and eventually seems beyond hope for most of the poor. Ilona passed away last year.
Widowed Balázsne Bende and her daughter Nórika live on a farm, which you can get to along an embankment built from clay.
The shepherd dogs usually get to eat the dead lambs on the farmlands of Tomorkeny.
Mária Veres, in her home that is surrounded by dirt roads. Mária’s husband died years ago. They bought the farm together on loans and ever since then the retired disable woman pays the mortgage alone.
Abandoned house at Csanytelek, Csongrád county. There are an increased number of abandoned buildings in "Mud Country" that after a time become one with nature.
The retired Lajos Kovács is sitting in the only small room of his house.
Pig slaughter at Csanytelek. Pig slaughter is an old tradition in Eastern Europe and it is still a frequent event in the countryside in winter.
Guest is having a drink of pálinka (Hungarian spirit) at the Borsos’ house. Alcohol consumption is a serious problem in Hungary, 800 thousand people of the population of 10 million is affected by alcohol dependence. The number of so-called dedicated drinkers may reach 2,5 million.
A six-meter high illuminated cross in the village of Baks in Csongrád County.
József Bozó, aged 72 lives on his own 3-acre land in Tömörkény, in a Volvo bus modified by himself. He sold all of his belongings several years ago, planning to erect a village resembling the ancient era of the Hungarian conquest, but his idea was not subsidized.
Emu at an farm in Csanytelek.
Poverty is no obstacle for playing creatively at home.
The seven-month-old Erika Patkó lies in her family's living room at their home in Tömörkény.
The wall of Vida family's’ living room in Tömörkény.
Social networking and the mobile phone are just as essential in the boys’ lives as in those of the most privileged ones.
Ferenc Juhász shepherd standing along an abandoned railway-track near the fishing lake of Tömörkény.
Anna Sebő, aged 86 has lived in her home of Csanytelek for 58 years. Her grandchildren moved abroad years ago. The majority of the youth move to nearby cities as soon as they can, resulting in a relatively high number of people living alone in Hungary.
Hay bales rest in a field at the former Lenin settlement in Csanytelek.
”Mud Country” is a long-term photography project that aims to provide a personal perspective for the Hungarian dirt roads beside the spreading of poverty, the mass departure of people and the local everyday problems.
The number of dirt roads is amazingly high in Hungary. Many people live habitually and inevitably along dirt roads in the rural areas of Bács Kiskun, Békés and Csongrád counties. While in Western Europe 96 percent of public roads are paved, this ratio in Hungary is only 38 percent. The difference is even greater in rural areas.
The village of Csanytelek in Csongrád county is situated by the river Tisza. More than a third of the population lives along dirt roads. In rainy weather, the ground alongside the river becomes completely impassable. Years ago they spent 6500 Euros on the design, permits and application required for preparing the renovation of three dirt streets in particularly bad condition. The local government did not win the grant, because they failed to provide traffic count data and accident statistics to prove the need for a pavement. It is impossible to provide high traffic data to justify the necessity of renovating a road that is impassable during most of the year; nor do hay carts ever collide on a street where even jeeps get stuck. Just like in other settlements similar to Csanytelek, not only is it impossible for the ambulance to reach a patient with a heart attack within 15 minutes, it is virtually beyond any chance to find a tractor that could tow the ambulance to the patient.
Depopulated farmlands, emigration and the spreading of poverty also characterize “Mud Country”. Millions living in poverty, an extremely small middle class and more and more people who cannot provide for their family despite having a job – these are the features of Hungary. Almost a quarter of Hungarians are threatened by poverty or social exclusion. Hungary ranks in the lowest tier in all poverty dimensions among EU Member States, and this situation has not fundamentally changed over the past decade.
The “Mud Country” later on has also face the problems of the mass departure of people, which seriously affects rural villages. In Hungary already half of people between 19 and 30 would like to work abroad. A significant proportion of youth and middle-aged Hungarians desire to leave the country and have already started planning their emigration. Currently, more than 600,000 Hungarians live abroad in the European Union.
This is an ongoing project.