Magda Rakita  |  2013 Highly Commended

Liberia

The images were created during March and April 2013 in Monrovia, Liberia. As a female and as a photographer I am drawn to issues affecting women, in this case in post-war Liberia. Its female population suffered terribly during the 14-year-long conflict: an estimated 60 to 90 percent having experienced some form of sexual violence. But women also played an important role in brokering the peace agreement, and since 2006, a woman has held the country’s highest political position.

As Liberia celebrates its 10th anniversary of peace in 2013, I wanted to explore the lived experience of the next generation of girls growing up in Liberia’s post-war reality. Specifically, I focused on girls living in West Point, one of Monrovia’s most notorious slums. The issues they face on daily basis are an everyday reality for most of the urban population: access to safe drinking water and electricity is restricted, and the sanitation infrastructure is almost nonexistent. However, I think it important to also highlight the hope and resilience evident in the lives of these young girls as they continue to fight to improve their prospects with the help of organisations such as ‘More Than Me’, which provides them with a safe environment to develop and play, and with scholarships to complete their education.

About the photographer

Magda Rakita

I am documentary photographer, originally from Poland but currently based in London, UK. I am passionate traveller and need to share stories of places I visited and people I met stimulated my interest in photography. After being exposed to various difficulties and challenges faced by people I met during my travels I became interested in humanitarian efforts, and how development can be stimulated by images. This motivated me to leave my previous career in finance and since I worked and supported various NGO’s with my photos. Among other those were: Save the Children UK, Seeds of Peace UK, The Aids Support Organisation and African Youth Initiative in Uganda, Survival International. I also work on self initiated projects focusing on health and social issues.

Currently I am also taking my MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at London College of Communication.
It is important to me to combine deep knowledge of socio-political and economical situation with understanding of development processes and how images and use of modern media and technologies can help communities on smaller and large scale.