Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Robin Hammond – Named Winner of 3rd Annual Dr. Guislain “Breaking the Chains of Stigma” Award

Robin Hammond exhibited at Photography Oxford, the recently ended festival of photography in Oxford, so it is very good to report that he has received a substantial award for his photography of mentally ill people in nations such as the South Sudan, Liberia and Uganda documenting the struggles faced by patients with brain disorders in many developing nations. The resulting images, many of which are striking and unsettling, have been published in a photo book entitled, “CONDEMNED-Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis.”  The information about his award and the awarding organisation is here

The pictures from this project are disturbing but sensitive to the condition of the subjects, here is text from Robin’s website regarding the work

CONDEMNED – Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis

Where there is war, famine, displacement, it is the most vulnerable that suffer the greatest.

Abandoned by governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies. Africans with mental illness in regions in crisis are resigned to the dark corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, locked away to live behind the bars of filthy prisons.

Some have suffered trauma leading to illness. Others were born with mental disability. In countries where infrastructure has collapsed and mental health professionals have fled, treatment is often the same – a life in chains.

I started documenting the lives of the mentally ill in African countries in crisis in an attempt to raise awareness of their plight. I travelled to war ravaged areas of Congo, South Sudan, Mogadishu and Uganda. I spent time with the displaced in refugee camps in Somalia and Dadaab. In Nigeria I went to see the impacts of corruption on facilities for the mentally ill.

After 12 years of documenting human rights issues I’ve never come across a greater assault on human dignity. These people are unseen and therefore their suffering ignored. This project is being produced in the hope that no longer will ignorance be able to be used as an excuse for inaction.

Condemned07

Many Somalis will take their mentally ill relative to traditional or Khoranic healers for treatment. The 20 year long conflict has ensured the collapse of mental health services and leaves them few options. Mogadishu, Somalia

Condemned01

Severely mentally disabled men and women are shackled and locked away in Juba Central Prison for years on end. The new nation of South Sudan faces a tremendous challenge to build a modern country capable of caring for all of its citizens. Juba, Sudan

Condemned02

Abdi Rahman Shukri Ali, 26, has lived in a locked tin shack for two years. He stays with his family in Dadaab in Eastern Kenya, the world’s largest refugee camp, where Somalis fleeing conflict and famine have sought safety. Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya

See the rest of the project on Robin’s website here

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