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Magda Rakita February 3, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Liberia.
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Boxing club in Monrovia 2013

Magda Rakita (b. 1976, Poland) became interested in photography and storytelling as a way of sharing her experiences as passionate traveler. She now works on documentary projects focusing on issues of health, social problems and development. Magda mostly works with NGOs and aid agencies, including: Save the Children UK, Seeds of Peace UK, TASO Uganda, Survival International, More Than Me, and THINK Liberia. In 2013 she graduated from the MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at London College of Communication. Her MA project “God Made Woman Than He Jerked” was highly commended in the 2013 Ian Parry Scholarship Award. She is based in London.

About the Photograph:

“God made woman then he jerked”, reads a mural on the streets of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, a country mostly remembered for its fourteen-year civil war in which an estimated 250,000 people lost their lives. As Liberia celebrated its 10th anniversary of peace in summer 2013, and with a woman occupying its highest political office, I was keen to explore the lived experience of a post-war generation of girls growing up among a war-scarred population. I hoped this might help shed light on the difficulties and challenges, but also on the resilience and determination, evident in the lives of these young girls as they fight to improve their prospects for the future.”

“Despite the presence of some high profile female figures in Liberia’s politics, the everyday realities and possibilities are very different for the majority of women. Relatively few girls are able to attend school as they find it difficult to reconcile their obligations towards their families and the demands of schooling. Many struggle to afford the obligatory school uniforms and registration fees despite education being (at least in theory) free. Sexual and gender based violence remain major issues, including in Liberia’s educational system, and it is not uncommon for students to be subject to sexual harassment when it comes to exchanging favors for grades. To me this image represents the struggle of young girls and women in a male dominated society and how isolating it can be for them to stand up for their rights. Hawa was the only girl attending training sessions in a boxing club in central Monrovia during the holiday season in 2013.”

Glenna Gordon April 19, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Liberia.
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Ducor Hotel, Monrovia, Liberia 2010

Glenna Gordon (b.1981, United States) is a freelance documentary photographer who splits her time between West Africa and New York. In addition to her own projects, she also covers news, does work for NGOs, and trains journalists and photographers in Africa. Glenna’s photos have been published in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, among others. Her work from Sierra Leone was accepted into the 2011 Lagos Photo Festival in Nigeria and the PowerHouse gallery in New York. Other projects have been shown in Washington DC as part of Fotoweek DC, where she received second place in the photojournalism and social documentary category. Glenna has also been a grant recipient of the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting for a project on justice in post-war Liberia.

About the Photograph:

‘”The image was taken at the Ducor Hotel in Monrovia, Liberia. It was once a four star hotel owned by the Inter Continental chain, but during Liberia’s civil war fell into disrepair and was inhabited by thousands of squatters fleeing from rural areas and urban fighting. They were later cleared out in 2010 when the Libyans won a bid to rehabilitate the hotel. Renovation began, but stopped when violence broke out in Libya. It was clearly once a beautiful spot, and still had its own kind of beauty. I went there often while I lived in Liberia, ostensibly to take pictures, but also for this beautiful, sweeping view of Monrovia and because I kind of  fell in love with the building. It’s one of those buildings that is significant to the history of a place, its own role changing with the times. Liberia’s future is unclear – there was a relatively peaceful election recently and the president is well liked abroad, but animosities and grievances haven’t been forgotten or forgiven. The Ducor’s future is uncertain as well and will continue to be tied up with Liberia’s growth and progress, or lack thereof.”

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