Age International Photography: Strength for Life, The Missing Generation of Myanmar

Most people hope and believe that retirement will be an enjoyable and relaxing time of life. But retirement isn’t an option for the majority of older people in the world’s poorest countries. With few or inadequate pensions, most people must continue working until the day they die. Age International sees older people as an asset to their families and communities; challenging the stereotype that labels older people as a ‘burden’.

For this reason, Age International teamed up with STA to hold a photo competition in Spring 2016, asking both amateur and professional photographers to send in striking images of older people from around the world.

The photos were presented to a prestigious panel of judges, including the Head of Photography of The Guardian, Roger Tooth and the award-winning photographer, David Levene. The panel also included STA News Editor, Roger Bray, and Managing Director, Debbie Marshall. The winners have now been selected and all shortlisted photos will shortly be exhibited in central London (please see details below).

As well as co-ordinating this competition, Age International is working with its partner, HelpAge, to support these older people in Myanmar where work is scarce. To find jobs and to provide for their families, many people are travelling to neighbouring Thailand. One month’s wages from Thailand are equivalent to one year’s salary in Myanmar, so many people feel that their only option is to migrate in search of work to pay for their children’s education and the chance of a better future. This mass migration is having an impact on the children that are left behind – and the grandparents who are raising them.

Award winning photographer David Levene visited the charities’ work in Anan Pin Kone in Karen State, a village of 130 households and 650 people to create his new photographic series ‘The Missing Generation of Myanmar’. These photos challenge perceptions and show that older people should be truly valued across the world.

The shortlisted and winning photographs from Age International’s competition will be shown alongside David Levene’s exhibition ‘The Missing Generation of Myanmar’ at the Crypt Gallery of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, just off Trafalgar Square from Thursday 29 September until Monday 31 October. There is no need to book and admission is free.

Photo Credit: David Levene