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Ageing in the media: reality of life as the “spade hacker”

07 Apr 2011

I doubt in my search over the last few months if any other media story resonates more with HelpAge and why we exist.

The Guardian this week reported on the 75-year old Georgian woman who, while scavenging for copper to sell as scrap, accidentally sliced through an underground cable and cut off internet services to all of neighbouring Armenia.

As my colleague Mark Gorman said:

"It's a pity that a 75-year-old who is so poor that she has to scavenge for a living only gets noticed when she closes down the internet. The focus of this story is entirely on this inconvenience, which seems like an opportunity missed to ask why the Georgian government has so clearly failed to create the conditions for a decent life for its older citizens.

"A secure income in old age doesn't seem like much to ask, if only to avoid the "catastrophic consequences" of a few hours of blank computer screens."

Clearly, other commentators saw the human tragedy in the story;

"Yvonne" said:

"If this country had any social safety net, a woman of this age would not be out digging in the dirt to make some money to buy food. I should think this would be an indication .... that the internet is not the only thing not being supplied. I think it's disgusting that this country would even contemplate putting her in jail. You can bet there's a bunch of silly old men running the country."

Possibly even young men, Yvonne.

Read more about our work on decent work and social protection for older people

Your comments

Lok Bhattarai

This story truly reflects what kinds of life older people in the southern countries are living. Now time has come to change it.

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Author profile


Rosaleen Cunningham
Country: Ireland
Job title: Freelance Media and Communications

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.