Below are some images from the project and an accompanying text by Tiana. See more images on the Photophilanthropy website and on Tiana's own website along with more of her fantastic work.
(Excola Center for Research and Action)
Salão Escola de Beleza Afro (Salon School of African Beauty)
Founded in 1994, Centro de Estudos e Ação Excola empowers women and children living in the streets of Rio de Janeiro to make long-term positive changes in their lives. In 2003 Excola began the Salão Escola de Beleza Afro (Salon School of African Beauty) program which trains and certifies 20 young women as beauticians each year. These women also received counseling, access to condoms and health information. The women are continuing to meet in the small salon space Excola rents in central Rio, and many of them have started offering hair and beauty treatments in their neighborhoods.
In the spring of 2009 I traveled to Rio de Janeiro as the recipient of a fellowship from Global Fund for Children and the Nike Foundation to document Excola’s Escola de Beleza program. I spent time with the women in the salon and in the streets where many of them live. Among the women I met were Glauciette, a 24 year old mother of six who has been living in the streets for five years, Juliana, who is 22 years old, HIV positive and the mother of three children, and Roseli, a 35 year old mother of seven who grew up in the streets with her mother and sisters, all of whom are still homeless. The hairdressing skills these women have learned provides them with the possibility of becoming economically independent, creating a viable alternative to begging or prostitution and increasing their self-confidence and self-esteem. For many of the women, the salon also provides their only reprieve from the dangers of the streets.
Unfortunately, at the time of my visit, the program was in dire financial straits; the rent for the salon was two months behind and no funding had been secured for the next step in the training in which the young women would learn how to use the skills they had acquired to run a successful business. It is my hope that the photographs I took can be used to help bring attention and continued funding to this incredible program.