Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich seven years ago in 2007 went to Kabul, Afghanistan with some tools of his trade, skateboards. Upon seeing the inquiring faces of Afghan children, specifically the young girls, it was not long before Percovich got the idea to start Skateistan, an NGO in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa, with a mission to promote “skateboarding as a tool for empowering youth, to create new opportunities and the potential for change.”
Skateistan, which is Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school, has attracted attention over the years, most especially for its ever-growing female student population. Girls are not permitted to ride bicycles in Afghan society, hence their excitement to learn how to skateboard came as no surprise.
British photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson went to Skateistan in Kabul in 2012 and shot a collection of moving images of the young girls who have discovered this new kind of freedom and empowerment through skateboarding. Fulford-Dobson’s photographs are presently on display at the Saatchi Gallery in London.
She had this to say about the photo display as well as her experience while working with Skateistan.
“I met so many impressive women and girls in Afghanistan: a teacher as tough and determined as any man; young Afghans in their early twenties who were volunteering at an orphanage and were passionate about being seen as strong and willing to fight for themselves, rather than as victims of circumstance; and girls who were being educated to be leaders in their communities and who were already thinking carefully about their own and their country’s future. And of course there were the young skate girls, so fun to be around and so totally unspoilt. I feel lucky to have met them. I hope that this collection captures something of their spirit: their joy in life, their individuality and their community.”
See this remarkable series here.