Shining Light in Dark Corners

darkness tunnel

Kiwi photographer, Robin Hammond was desperate to escape his ‘boring’ NZ existence for the real world. What he discovered was beyond his grame of reference. He talks to Bess Manson…

Originally, Hammond went to Juba in South Sudan to cover the referendum on independence in 2011. Driving through the city he saw a mentally disabled man on the side of the road.

“I asked my driver what happens to people suffering with mental illness here and he very casually told me they get sent to prison. I told him, ‘Stop the car. Take me to the prison’.”

At Juba Central Prison and at other institutions and villages across seven African countries over the following months Hammond found mentally ill men, women and children shackled to beds, tethered to sticks, tied to trees. In Hammond’s words, they are the forgotten, the abused, the condemned.
In countries where infrastructure has collapsed and mental health professionals have fled, treatment is often a life in chains, he says.

Hammond, who has photographed for major publications like the New York Times, The Guardian, Time magazine, Paris Match and National Geographic, tried pitching his idea of a feature on what happens to the mentally ill in this part of the world. No one wanted to cover it so he went ahead and did it anyway.
Hammond, 39, sees his job as bringing their plight to the world.



%d bloggers like this: