People living along the dirty roads say everything gets destroyed in the mud. The house, the car, the bikes and even the footwear.
István Kiss in his home that is surrounded by dirt roads in Tömörkény. His disability pension is 140 Euros. István 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.
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.
Luca lives with his mother and grandfather in their home in Csanytelek, Csongrád County together with her five brothers. According to the latest data almost half of young children live in poverty in Hungary.
The wall of Lajos Kovács’ house in Csanytelek. Most of those living in “Mud Country” have great difficulties maintaining their house.
Lajos 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.
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.
Agricultural labour in “Mud Country”. Tractors are not only of use for work in the walk-in plastic tunnel.
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”.
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.
Only a few families of “Mud Country” can afford to have livestock.
The retired Lajos Kovács in the only small room of his house.
Lunch at the Borsos’ in Csanytelek, Hungary. Mária and József raise 6 children. Most of the families of this village must spend almost all their income for raising the children and covering their most basic needs.
The 15-year-old Zsolt poses at his father’s farm near a farm settlement, Tömörkény.
János's horse on the outskirts of Tömörkény in Csongrád county
Abandoned house at Pusztaföldvár, Békés county.
Public workers at the village of Tömörkény.
Cemetery in Csanytelek.
The shepherd dogs usually get to eat the dead lambs on the farmlands of Tömörkény.
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.
József and his wife in front of their hut. The pair built an own hut after many years of the homelessness in Tiszaföldvár.
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 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.
The outer roads belong to the local municipalities; their small finances are mainly concentrated on the inner areas. And the ministries are simply not concerned with the dirt roads in the outer areas and suburbs.
”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 the deepest 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. One in every three Hungarians, that is 3,3 million people live in poverty. 1,2 million of them must endure extreme poverty, which is an extraordinarily high number for a country with a population of 9.9 million. Almost every second Hungarian is living in cramped conditions, every fourth flat is not properly protected against rain or has mould on the walls and almost one million households do not have electricity, heating and gas.
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.