Kabul, Afghanistan - it's not exactly a place that brings positive images to mind. Thanks to decades under an oppressive regime and two major wars in the last 40 years, it’s a place more often associated with plunder than it is with play time. That's why when photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson heard about the incredible, uplifting story of skater girls of Afghanistan, she was hooked.
These girls are learning to skateboard thanks to Skateistan, a German non-profit organization that uses skateboarding as a means to empower children (particularly girls) in developing countries like Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.
Fulford-Dobson is a children’s portrait specialist. She reached out to Skateistan, who agreed to let her shoot at their schools in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
She captured the girls in their natural element, without artificial lighting, which allowed the personality and natural expressions of the girls to really shine.
Skateistan works with youths as young as 5 and as old as 25.
For many of these girls, who come from extremely low-income families in a war-torn nation, it's their only chance to play.
Learning to skateboard in a society where girls can't ride bikes empowers them to seek out other opportunities, such as education.
Skateistan lets students decide what they want to learn, and provides them with a safe space to develop the skills they consider important.
Fulford-Dobson says: “I hope that the joy, freedom and excitement you can see in the pictures of these girls is contagious [...] I hope the images stay with the visitors and encourage them to support wonderful ventures such as Skateistan.”
"Skate Girls of Kabul" was on exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London recently, and a photo book - with a foreword by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk - is in the works. If you'd like to learn more about Skateistan and/or get involved, visit their website here.
Credit: Huffington Post