“Survivors for Survivors” is a project photographed by Felipe Jácome in conjunction with KOFAVIV, a Haitian non-profit organization for women who have been raped. KOFAVIV was founded in 2004, but after the 2010 earthquake, numerous refugees staying in tents were raped due to a lack of security and order following the disaster, making the organizations work even more vital. Unlike other charity organizations, the group is a community, run by women who have been raped, and is used as a support network for those who have experienced similar trauma. They provide women who have been raped with whatever aid they need, whether it is food, shelter, legal advice or emotional support from a group who understands. “Survivors for Survivors” embodies the spirit of the KOFAVIV community. This project aims to move away from the victimization of rape victims and erase the stigma surrounding the violence they have been subjected to. "Survivors for Survivors" functions not only as art, but a therapeutic process for participants. Felipe intimately collaborated with the women involved in the project, from beginning to end. After he photographed them, each women picked which photo they wanted to use, and then wrote and painted on their portrait. The finished project expresses the unique experience of each women pictured, liberating their image from simplified victimization, to a portrayal of empowered individuals. “Haitian culture is very symbolic” Felipe says, and this is evident by the colors and images used by the participants. Even though they have each been through darkness, the unified message conveyed by the floral motifs and vibrant colors is hope - each testimony is not only about sexual violence, but the desire for advancement of women in Haitian society. This is the underlying goal of KOFAVIV as a community, as “Survivors for Survivors” collaborator Minoush wrote, “It makes us women find our place in society, understand our rights, and value the importance we have.”
Felipe and KOFAVIV are currently working to organize a show on International Day Against Violence Against Women, November 25th. All proceeds from works sold will be donated to the organization. Check out the rest of the portraits on the projects website.
Below is a preview of the series Felipe and KOFAVIV have been working on.
Written By Mariam Naziripour
Photographs supplied by Felipe Jácome