Gambia - Victims and Resisters

$4,580 of $5,500 goal

Raised by 65 people in 2 months
Created November 6, 2018
Fundraising Team
The Gambia - Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

To face the past, victims and resisters of the Jammeh regime come forward - #Portraits4PositiveChange

In a global political climate where authoritarian rule is on the rise - where autocratic leaders crush dissent, and opposition, with brutality and little or no regard for human rights - it is essential to keep telling the stories of those who suffered, and those who bravely resisted - who were often one and the same. 

Your support will enable us to continue our work, to create an extensive body of portraits of the victims and resisters of the 22-year brutal dictatorship of the Yahya Jammeh’s regime, as a tool for positive change and advocacy... please read on to find out why this is so important...

34271368_1541523829445477_r.jpegJason Florio photographs Ballo Kanteh - an ex-political prisoner, he shows the burns he suffered after melted plastic was dripped onto his skin by Jammeh's hit-squad, the Junglers. Kanteh spent 18-year detention at the notorious Mile 2 prison  - for the first two years, he was held in solitary confinement in a pitch dark cell, which has permanently damaged his eyesight. Image © Helen Jones-Florio 


Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio :  Having worked as documentary photographers in the Gambia for almost 20 years, in the shadow of the dictatorship of President Yahya Jammeh, we knew the dangers, not just for us - but, most especially for Gambians who bravely dared to challenge the often brutal regime. 

In the latter part of 2016, we crossed the border into Senegal and began photographing and collecting the stories of victims of the Jammeh regime who had fled into hiding there  - some with their families -  fearing for their lives. 

34271368_1541509804940196_r.jpegFatoumatta Sandeng, daughter of murdered Gambian opposition party member, Solo Sandeng. She escaped into exile in Senegal after her father's murder in 2016 at the hands of Jammeh's security services, fearful they would be targeted next. A year after her father's murder, and Jammeh's exile, the perpetrators came forth and disclosed the secret forest grave of her father -
Image © Jason Florio   (Senegal, 2016)


A few short months later, after Jammeh’s forced flight into exile, we were able to work freely for the first time as photojournalists, in The Gambia, and so we began to make portraits of the victims and resisters of the regime, who now felt safe enough to come forward. 

As photojournalists, our aim is not just to document and create a record of events but to use our photographs as a tool for positive change and advocacy - giving a platform for the victims and their families, where they can be seen, heard, and honoured. 

The portraits will be used as a tool in the reconciliation process to help the people of the
 Smiling Coast of Africa, as the Gambia is fondly called, to come together and heal, through:

- A billboard publicity campaign in the Gambia

- Exhibitions in the Gambia (the first is scheduled for Jan 21st, 2019, the anniversary of Jammeh's departure) – and internationally

- Local and international media attention

Education for future generations 
In the theme of ‘We, Will Never Forget’, the portraits and stories of the victims will form an archive for future generations of Gambians, to preserve their history. 

34271368_154152435320419_r.jpegSainey MK Marenah a dissident Gambian journalist who was the senior correspondent for The Standard newspaper. He was jailed and acquitted after he wrote a story about young supporters of President Jammeh who had defected to the opposition. Despite his acquittal, Jammeh's National Intelligence Agency continued to threaten him, forcing him to flee into exile in neighbouring Senegal ©Jason Florio  (Senegal 2016)


We need your help
Your support will enable us to continue our work, to create an extensive body of portraits of the victims – our goal for this next mission to the Gambia is to produce 100 to 150 portraits over a 6 week period (beginning Dec 2018 -Jan 2019) for #Portraits4PositiveChange

January 2017 - Deposed dictator, Jammeh, leaves the Gambia for exile in Equatorial Guinea. 
Image © Jason Florio 'Gambia Has Decided' 

                            Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia for 22 years and vowed, 
                                                "I will rule for a billion years if Allah wills it"

A brief history of Jammeh’s time in power
From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa, as his own personal fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition, with brutality. His personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures, and assassinations with impunity - journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his order. 

Since Jammeh's exile, over 1000 victims have registered with the 'Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations', a non-profit created by victims to advocate for truth, justice, and reconciliation for all victims whose rights were violated by the Jammeh regime. 

Sarjo Manneh, holding a picture of his son, Chief Ebrima Manneh, with President Yahya Jammeh. Chief wrote an article about term lengths for Gambian presidency, and soon afterwards he was abducted and later murdered, informants said, on Jammeh's instructions. To this day, his body has never been found - Image © Jason Florio


34271368_1541524763325151_r.jpegNgoi Njie was picked up by Gambia's feared NIA and tortured along with other Gambians who were protesting on April 14th, 2016 for electoral reform, including activist Solo Sandeng whose tragic death she witnessed at the hands of Yahya Jammeh's hit squad known as the Junglers ©Jason Florio 


Why this means so much to us
This project is especially close to our hearts as, after 20 years we consider the Gambia our second home, and we have many friends and acquaintances who have suffered, and lost loved ones, under Jammeh's ruthless autocracy. This work is an opportunity for us to give back to a country and a people whom we have grown very close to  - now that we too can speak freely, without risk of retribution, we feel it's essential that these stories are heard. 

We will personally cover our time and living costs, for 6 weeks whilst in the Gambia, but we are kindly asking for support to cover the bare bones expenses only - even a $5 donation will help us get closer to our goal. Your donations will enable us to gather and share these incredibly important stories, to support the victims and their campaign to bring Jammeh to justice . 

With your help, we will be back in the Gambia to begin working on the portraits by 1st December 2018

#Portraits4PositiveChange - Expenses:

Return Flights x 2 – London-Banjul

Local fixers/translators/researchers - Gambia

Local transcriber - Gambia

Local accommodation - Gambia

Local transport (car/driver/fuel) - Gambia

Portrait prints - a gift - for each subject we photograph (100-150 people)

Exhibition printing

*To keep costs down, we won't be offering any fancy gifts. BUT, if you supply us with your contact details, when you make your donation, we will send you a hand-made postcard, all the way from the Gambia*

34271368_1541524939324356_r.jpegThe wife and son of Harouna Jammeh, who was murdered along with his sister on the orders of his brother, former president Yahya Jammeh. Harouna's daughter, Ayeshah Jammeh, has since co-founded the 'Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations' - Image ©Jason Florio 


Please help to spread the word
For any support –however small - we will be eternally grateful. Furthermore, we need all the help we can get. So, even if you aren’t in a position to donate, then your support in sharing this with your friends, on social media - Facebook, Twitter, etc. – would be amazing and much appreciated!

We'll keep you updated on a regular basis

Thank you so much / abaraka bakeh!

Jason & Helen

A little bit about the two of us:

Jason Florio 
Is an award-winning photojournalist - he was the recipient of a Magnum Photography Award 2017 for his extensive body of work on migration: 'Destination Europe ' - filmmaker, and writer.  His focus has been towards under-reported stories about people living on the margins of society and human rights. 

Helen Jones-Florio 
Is a photographer, producer, videographer,  and writer.  She has been travelling to West Africa for almost 20 years. She co-led, with Jason, the first recorded circumnavigation of theGambia by foot  and the first recorded source-seaRiver Gambia expedition . She is the co-founder of the ‘Photos Tell Stories' photography workshops, and has created and produced extensive content for their expedition  blogs.

Let's Get Social:
Twitter -floriophotoNYC 
Instagram -  @jasonflorio  / @floriotravels 
Facebook -  Jason Florio  / PhotosTellStories

Helen & Jason Florio - Photo credit: Marcin Seweryn Andrzejewski , the Gambia, 2017
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Update 23
Posted by Helen Jones-Florio
4 days ago
Good morning

We wanted to share another recent portrait that Jason made a couple of weeks ago when we caught the ferry from Banjul (the capital of the Gambia) to the North Bank, to the town of Essau.

Dodou Sanyang in the room of his recently
deceased mother. She was one of over a thousand elderly people abducted on the order of the former president, Yahya Jammeh in 2009. Groups of Jammeh’s paramilitary troops along with his youth brigade, The Green Boys and ‘magicians’ from Guinea went from village to village as part of a
nationwide hunt for witches. The alleged witches were held for up to five days in secret locations and made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. Some were also severely beaten and robbed by their captors. Some died at the detention sites, and others like Sanyang’s mother suffered years of illness before dying. Many in Sanyang’s village believe the elderly there were not targeted for witchcraft, but because the village had been an opposition stronghold

As always, we are beyond grateful for all the support and words of encouragement from you all, during this difficult time. As a close friend and donor, said 'stay the course'. Thanks for that, T.

And... we will.

Big love
Jason & Helen x❤️x

Image: ©Jason Florio, 2018 - see more on the website https://floriophoto.com/PORTRAITS/The-Gambia---victims-&-resisters---a-work-in-progress/1/caption

P.S. We'll share more again, very soon. If you have any questions, comments, do please feel free to send us a message here. We also update regularly on our Instagram pages: @jasonflorio / @floriotravels and our FB page https://www.facebook.com/floriophotostellstories/
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Update 22
Posted by Helen Jones-Florio
11 days ago
Good morning

Here is another portrait from 'Gambia - Victims and Resisters of a Regime'

We will call him 'Musa', to disguise his identity (as was his wish) - Musa was one of a number of HIV/AIDS
patients coerced by former president Yahya Jammeh to stop taking anti-retroviral drugs and be treated by him personally with his herbal‘AIDS cure’. Jammeh’s AIDS treatment proved to be a dangerous hoax, non were cured, and a number of patients died. The patients during their 'treatment' were paraded on national television without their consent, which led to intense stigmatization and ostracisation by their families and communities.
Please see more from this work-in-progress https://floriophoto.com/PORTRAITS/The-Gambia---victims-&-resisters---a-work-in-progress/1/caption

As always, your support is truly appreciated. We'll keep you updated.

Big Love you all for the New Year
Jason & Helen
Follow us on Instagram, for regular photo updates: @jasonflorio @floriotravels
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Update 21
Posted by Helen Jones-Florio
16 days ago
Hi All

Happy New Year!

We just wanted to share a couple of the most recent portraits, from 'Gambia - Victims, and Resisters of a Regime', which was featured in a recent Instagram takeover @reduxpictures feed (Jason's agents in NYC) over the last weekend. We'll be working on more as soon as we possibly can.

Image 1: Oumie Jagne, was shot twice in the arm by former Gambia dictator Yahya Jammeh’s security forces after she was caught up in the peaceful student protests on April 10th, 2000, whilst trying to help her sister get away from the shooting. ©Jason Florio

Image 2: Amie Bayo, a 24-year-old kindergarten teacher was part of a peaceful protest in 2016 when she was picked up by members of the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh’s security forces. She was held incommunicado for 10 days at one of their detention sites. She was subjected to beatings with steel pipes, threatened with death, verbal sexual abuse, and regularly doused in freezing water. One of her fellow protestors was subjected not only to the beatings but to gang rape by three masked police officers. ©Jason Florio

Image: Jason Florio making the portrait of Amie Bayo, Tujuering, The Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio

We'll share more again, very soon. We also update regularly on our Instagram pages: @jasonflorio / @floriotravels and our FB page https://www.facebook.com/floriophotostellstories/

Much love and heartfelt thanks for your support, as always, and your understanding of these difficult times
Jason & Helen ❤️
+ Read More
Update 20
Posted by Helen Jones-Florio
19 days ago
Much love and respect for the show of much needed support, right now, from Spike (and Nick) Rawling, London, UK ❤️

'I rarely show pictures of myself on this account but the situation calls for it:
Jason Florio, a prominent influence and inspiration in my work has launched a go fund me to fund his important work in Gambia. Please visit his Instagram account - @jasonflorio - for more details and examples of his incredible work. #portraits4positivechange' Spike Rawling
+ Read More
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$4,580 of $5,500 goal

Raised by 65 people in 2 months
Created November 6, 2018
Fundraising Team
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