Salão Escola de Beleza Afro (Salon School of African Beauty) by Tiana Markova-Gold

Tiana Markova-Gold is a friend of mine who has recently worked on a project on the Salão Escola de Beleza Afro (Salon School of African Beauty) in Rio De Janeiro on behalf of Excola Center for Research and Action on Childhood and Drug Use. Like many worthy causes, the Salon is in need of funding to continue doing it's work.

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.

Centro de Estudos e Ação Excola
(Excola Center for Research and Action)

Salão Escola de Beleza Afro (Salon School of African Beauty)

Tiana Markova-Gold

Home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and luxury hotels, Rio de Janeiro is also a city of the starkest inequalities imaginable. In addition to the four million people (one third of the city’s population) living in favelas, there are thousands of women and children who make their home and their living in the city streets. The instability and dangers of life on the streets have created a complex subculture that is little understood by the rest of society. Women and children living in the streets are easy targets for police brutality and other forms of mistreatment and exploitation. Many sniff glue, called cola, or smoke crack to give them a temporary escape.

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.

Note: I was able to do this work through a fellowship from Global Fund for Children and the Nike Foundation in partnership with the International Center of Photography.


duckrabbit said...

very powerful and strong work, thanks for sharing.

Leillah Sekalala said...

We love the afro salon shot - would you let us use it on our site?!