Gender Equality – Secret Home School for Girls, Afghanistan ©Jason Florio

Image ©Jason Florio: Secret Home School for Girls, Afghanistan

At the beginning of the 21st century, our world still didn’t get rid of the different evaluation between the genders. Our campaign’s purpose is to draw attention to this important issue of humanity and bring about the importance of change, with the collaboration of the world’s photo artists. We dedicate this work to UNICEF – Gender Equality 2019

World’s Photo Artists For Gender Equality

“In August 2000 I was smuggled into a house in the suburbs of Herat, Afghanistan – the Taliban were in control of the city and had put strict laws in place banning education for girls – severe punishments were meted out on those who disobeyed them. Inside the house a group of girls sat in rows, each clutching a book as a volunteer teacher conducted the class. But despite the intense danger, the teacher and the girl’s parents knew the girls must have the opportunity for education, whatever the cost.

I often think of this moment –  if these parents and teachers could put their lives on the line to operate a secret home school for girls, then we all must find the courage to speak out whenever and wherever we find  Gender Equality under attack. The work along with other photographers will be exhibited in Budapest, Hungary in August in conjunction with UNICEF.”  Jason Florio 

Related: ‘An Afghan Diary – Talibanistan

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Youtube: LensCulture interview photographer, Jason Florio about ‘Destination Europe’

“I really hope that these pictures will break down the barriers, and get people to see them as human beings… they are not a threat, they have the same hopes and aspirations as all of us… “Jason Florio 

The European migrant crisis has receded from the public eye but continues to evolve. A veteran photojournalist, Jason Florio, offers us a wider lens on the topic, connecting the Mediterranean to the western reaches of AfricaLensCulture.

Related posts:

LensCulture/Jason Florio.

Refugees rescue in the Aegean Sea

See more  of the above series at floriophoto.com: ‘Destination Europe’

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Behind closed doors, Malta

Entrance to 'Savoy' house, Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
A way in. The entrance to ‘Savoy’ house, Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Abandoned, derelict, buildings have always held a fascination for me…

This particular one, a big house named ’Savoy’, is at the top of Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta. It’s been derelict for the last three years, at least. Who knows how long prior to that. I’ve tried to find some information on it and the most I can come up with, thus far, is that it may have been a guest house.

Walking by the other day, Florio noticed that the front doors were open – they are usually padlocked with a big old rusty lock. Maybe there were workmen in there, at last, beginning a renovation project? ‘Hello, anybody home?’. No answer. What harm could it do, to take a quick peek? I’ve wanted to see inside this place since the first time we walked past it, three years ago.

'Savoy' house, interior, Gzira, Malta - old art deco chairs © Helen Jones-Florio
‘Savoy’ house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

Entering into the cool interior of what must have once been an impressive foyer, a beautifully ornate, wrought iron stairway, gracefully curves its way up to the first floor. Beneath our feet, and years of dust, beautiful old Maltese tiles, still very much intact in many places, line the floor. Could this have been a reception area? Several low-slung easy, art-deco style, armchairs, piled into one corner. And,  judging by wooden bed frames, stacked up high, one on top of the other, in another room, and numerous old wardrobes (in one of the rooms, they were mysteriously lined up, barricade-like, against panoramic floor to ceiling windows, as if to obstruct the light or, perhaps, to keep something, or someone, out? Derelict buildings always arouse my vivid imagination!) suggests that it could very well have been a guest house or small hotel.

'Savoy' house, interior, Gzira, Malta - old wardrobes barricade-like agains the window © Helen Jones-Florio
Barricade? ‘Savoy’ house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

The marble stairs still looked solid enough, so we carefully made our way up the first curving flight, onto the first-floor landing. Treading with caution, hoping that the potholed, rubble-strewn floor would hold our weight, we edged our way through a labyrinth of hallways, poking our heads into room after room, sunlight pouring in from the many broken windows, lighting our way (I’m not sure I’d have been so brave to explore if there hadn’t been any natural light. LIke I said, vivid imagination). From the outside – despite its present state of dilapidation – one could imagine that the building was once a house that would have stood out, regally, amongst its neighbours.  And, from what we could see, that would have been reflected in the interior, too.

'Savoy' house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
No exit – ‘Savoy’ house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

'Savoy' house, interior, Gzira, Malta - patio doors overlooking the garden © Helen Jones-Florio
Room with a view – ‘Savoy’ house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Entrance to 'Savoy' house, Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
‘Savoy’ house, Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

I need to do some more digging, there must surely be photos somewhere, that depicts the house in it’s grander days, inside and out? Next time we pass by, and if we are lucky, and we find the front door is unlocked and open wide again, maybe we’ll venture up to the 2nd floor and onwards.

 

Helen Jones-Florio

 

Related work: Disappearing Malta / Doors & Facades #1 / Doors & facades #2

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