Robin Hammond- Winner of the 2013 FotoEvidence Book Award
Book Award Years
Abandoned by governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies: A voiceless minority resigned to the dark forgotten corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, living out their lives behind the bars of filthy prisons. Lives condemned to quiet misery. These are the mentally disabled living in Africa’s regions in crisis, countries ravaged by war, gripped by famine, or led by corrupt regimes. Some have suffered severe trauma which has led to illness. Others were born with mental disability. Either way, in countries where infrastructure has collapsed, where displacement has driven the mentally ill away from services, 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, Somalia and Uganda. I spent time with the displaced in refugee camps in Somalia and Kenya. 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. I want to see this work published so ignorance will no longer be able to be used as an excuse for inaction.