Announcing the 2014 Alexia Foundation Grant Recipients

SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL – DECEMBER 10, 2009: Children playing in the stairs in one of the buildings of the abandoned chocolate factory, on December 10, 2009 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Despite the lack of socio-economic support from the government, they have managed to make a safe place for themselves to live, and form a community of their own, which is safer that the alternatives available to them. However they are currently being evicted by the government due to being there illegally. Sebastian Liste/Reportage for Getty Images

SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL – DECEMBER 10, 2009: Children playing in the stairs in one of the buildings of the abandoned chocolate factory, on December 10, 2009 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Despite the lack of socio-economic support from the government, they have managed to make a safe place for themselves to live, and form a community of their own, which is safer that the alternatives available to them. However they are currently being evicted by the government due to being there illegally. Sebastian Liste/Reportage for Getty Images

The Alexia Foundation is thrilled to announce the recipients of the 2014 Alexia Foundation Grants: Sebastián Liste for the professional grant and Mehran Hamrahi for the student grant.

It’s incredible news [grants like this] are the only way to continue working and trying to make a change.

Finalists for the professional grant were Stephen Dupont, of Austinmer, Australia, and Pau Coll Sánchez of Barcelona, Spain, for their respective projects about mental health treatment in Angola and prisons in Central America.

Liste, who lives in Alicante, Spain, will receive the $20,000 professional grant for his project, “The New Culture of Violence in Latin America” which is an investigation of crime, punishment and security in Latin America. Despite the fall of military rule and the restoration of democracy, statistics show that in the last two decades crime rates have soared considerably, making Latin America the world’s most violent region, Sebastián writes in his proposal. The work is an ongoing project.

The Alexia Grant will allow Sebastián to produce the final coverage in his five year study of violence in the region by exploring the issue in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where communities have endured years of violence from drug wars, criminal gangs and the illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons and people. Sebastián’s work will raise awareness of the gravity of the current situation that impacts millions of citizens in the region and will impel political and media leaders to pay vital attention to this important issue.

Judges Stephen Mayes, Yukiko Yamagata and Karen Mullarkey pose with Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis and Syracuse University Alexia Chair for Documentary Photography and Competition Administrator Mike Davis following the completion of the judging. Photo by Mike Davis.

Judges Stephen Mayes, Yukiko Yamagata and Karen Mullarkey pose with Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis and Syracuse University Alexia Chair for Documentary Photography and Competition Administrator Mike Davis following the completion of the judging. Photo by Drew Shapiro and Ryan MacCammon.

Judges Stephen Mayes, Karen Mullarkey and Yukiko Yamagata were particularly impressed by the way Sebastián’s project reaches beyond a single event or setting and addresses a larger aspect of a society. In doing so, they noted that it has the potential to bring about change and a much greater understanding of the issue.

“It’s incredible news,” said Sebastián in response to hearing that he had been awarded the Professional Grant. “It’s been difficult to finance this kind of work today, [grants like this] are the only way to continue working and trying to make a change.”

Mike Davis, who as the Alexia Chair at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School runs the grant selection process, said that 231 people submitted proposals and bodies of work to the professional grant competition this year.

“The level of work submitted continues to be of the highest calibre,” Davis said. “Seeing that quantity and quality of work and hearing the judges talk about the merits and shortcomings of entries was like taking a course on documentary photography.”

Selection took place Feb. 22 at Syracuse University.

Sheida, 18, is smoking a cigarette in a café. She says " I feel safe in the café".  Smoking the cigarette is not restricted legally in Iran, however the girls are afraid of smoking in the public places. The radical Muslims and traditional people consider this as a abominable act for girls and they might annoy them. Ahvaz (Southern Iran), July 1st 2013. Mehran Hamarahi

Sheida, 18, is smoking a cigarette in a café. She says ” I feel safe in the café”. Smoking the cigarette is not restricted legally in Iran, however the girls are afraid of smoking in the public places. The radical Muslims and traditional people consider this as a abominable act for girls and they might annoy them. Ahvaz (Southern Iran), July 1st 2013. Mehran Hamrahi

Mehran Hamrahi of the Islamic Azad University of Ahvaz, Iran, receives the student grant for his project, “Iranian People, Ordinary or Criminals.” The work aims to portray the daily lives of Iranian youth who dream of living “a free life.” Iran is currently one of the youngest countries in the world, and Mehran’s project will give voice to this younger generation, which, deprived of basic human rights and social freedom, dreams of immigration and living in a free country abroad, Mehran writes. Mehran will receive tuition for the Syracuse University London Program, a $1,000 grant to help produce the proposed body of work, a $300 gift card from Dury’s Photo for equipment and supplies, and $500 will be awarded to his academic department.

"I  am giving an exam, result is unknown to me".. Tina (21). Shahria Sharmin

“I  am giving an exam, result is unknown to me”.. Tina (21). Shahria Sharmin

The Second Place Student Grant Winner is Shahria Sharmin from the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute for her project, “Call Me Heena,” which explores the different responses Bangladesh and India have to Transgender Identity of the Hijra, a South Asian term referring to an individual born male, but who identifies as female, and eventually adopts the feminine gender roles. It will look at the lives of Hijra who have left Bangladesh, seeking the greater inclusion India offers. The project aims to help spur greater acceptance of the Hijra in Bangladesh. Shahria will receive half tuition for study at the Syracuse University London Program, a $500 cash grant to help produce the proposed body of work, and a $250 gift card from Dury’s Photo for equipment and supplies.

Roushon, 32, got married at the age of 13 in Birampur. In 2002, after eight years of marriage, her husband poured acid on her while she was sleeping next to her son because she opposed his second marriage. She lost an ear completely and half of her face and body has been burned. She now lives with her son in her mother’s home and now studying along with her son. Farzana Hossen

Roushon, 32, got married at the age of 13 in Birampur. In 2002, after eight years of marriage, her husband poured acid on her while she was sleeping next to her son because she opposed his second marriage. She lost an ear completely and half of her face and body has been burned. She now lives with her son in her mother’s home and now studying along with her son. Farzana Hossen

The Alexia Award of Excellence recipients are Farzana Hossen of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, Andrew Renneisen of Syracuse University and Sarah Ann Jump of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Farana’s project, “Lingering Scars” tells the story of women who are the victims of acid and kerosene burns in Bangladesh as they try to rebuild their lives in a society where violence against women is on the rise and is sanctioned by both society and the state.

Andrew’s project, “Hip Hop, Save Me,” will look at a group of aspiring hip-hop artists trying to make it as rappers at night, while struggling to provide for their families by day. This is the second year that Andrew has been awarded an Alexia Student Grant. Last year, he received an Award of Excellence for his ” Violent Times: Crime in America’s Cities.”

Indio, a member of Money Bag Movement, smokes a blunt while showing off his money and bottle of Hennessy. The group raps about street life, money, drugs, all common themes in hip-hop music. Andrew Renneisen

Indio, a member of Money Bag Movement, smokes a blunt while showing off his money and bottle of Hennessy. The group raps about street life, money, drugs, all common themes in hip-hop music. Andrew Renneisen

Sarah’s project, “New Roots: Refugees Resettling in America” will be a photographic documentation of the first year of resettlement for a refugee family settling in Rochester, New York.

The new Gilka Grant, honoring Robert E. Gilka, has been awarded to Andrew Renneisen and Sarah Ann Jump, to allow them to attend the NPPA’s Kalish Workshop.

“Each of our 24 competitions has had it’s own chemistry. This year’s jury brought together 3 very different perspectives on the role and value of visual journalism. Much was learned from their keen eyes and professional observations ,” noted Aphrodite Tsairis. “We welcome the judges and the winners to our growing Alexia family,” she added.

Mary’s Place encourages children to play outside and be active during the summer. Volunteers will organize field trips for the children, offered as an incentive for reading a certain number of books based on their reading levels. Sarah Ann Jump

Mary’s Place encourages children to play outside and be active during the summer. Volunteers will organize field trips for the children, offered as an incentive for reading a certain number of books based on their reading levels. Sarah Ann Jump

The Alexia Foundation promotes the power of photojournalism to give voice to social injustice, to respect history lest we forget it and to understand cultural difference as our strength – not our weakness. It was created in response to the death of Alexia Tsairis who perished with 269 others in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

Congratulations to the 2014 winners, and thank you everyone for submitting your powerful work and insightful proposals.

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