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    Photo by Mary F. Calvert/Courtesy of the Alexia Foundation Photo by Mary F. Calvert/Courtesy of the Alexia Foundation Photo by Mary F. Calvert/Courtesy of the Alexia Foundation

    Photographer’s Project Focuses on Homeless Female Veterans

    Female veterans are four times more likely to become homeless than civilian women, according to photographer Mary F. Calvert, who has received the 2014 Alexia Foundation Women’s Initiative Grant for her project “Missing in Action: Homeless Female Veterans.” Her work supported by this grant will focus on the Los Angeles region, which has the largest concentration of homeless veterans. She will examine the slow response to this crisis by the beleaguered U.S. Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs as well as the organizations that attempt to help these women.

    Ms. Calvert notes that women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan arrive home with health care issues like PTSD, as well as custody battles resulting from the strain of deployment on their families. For many women, the military was a way to escape a difficult situation, yet harassment, sexual assault and the lack of advancement opportunities have driven them out of it.

    Read more on the Alexia Foundation’s website.

    Apply for the Alexia Foundation’s 2014 Women’s Initiative Grant

    There are just a handful of days left to apply for the 2014 Women’s Initiative Grant. The deadline is Monday, June 30, 2014 at 2 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time. The Grant provides $25,000 for a serious documentary photographic project encompassing any issue involving women anywhere in the world. Photographers and visual journalists from any country may apply for this Grant.

    Above, a photo from 2012 grant winner Tim Matsui, who documented sex trafficking. Here, young women from ages 15 to 19, prepare for a night of work at the Violin Karaoke bar in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Their job is to sell drinks to customers who book the karaoke rooms; in the neighboring dance club, also part of the Violin, there are cocktail waitresses. However, many are also freelance sex workers or ‘bar girls’ who make their own arrangements with the customers for a ‘date.’ (Photo by Tim Matsui/Courtesy of the Alexia Foundation)

    The Alexia Foundation is currently accepting entries for its Women’s Initiative Grant. The call for entries asks photographers to propose a serious documentary photographic or multimedia project encompassing any issue involving women anywhere in the world. Learn more at

    Image by Tim Matsui, 2012 Women’s Initiative winner

    Photo by Sebastian Liste/Reportage by Getty Images Photo by Mehran Hamarahi

    The Alexia Foundation announced the recipients of the 2014 Alexia Foundation Grants: Sebastián Liste for the professional grant and Mehran Hamrahi for the student grant.

    Sebastián, who lives in Alicante, Spain, and is represented by Reportage by Getty Images, 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.

    Mehran Hamrahi of the Islamic Azad University of Ahvaz, Iran, received 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.”

    One of the Alexia Award of Excellence recipients is Farzana Hossen of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, who also won last year’s Ian Parry scholarship. Farzana’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.

    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.

    Read more about the grants, and see more work from the winners, on the Alexia Foundation’s Web site.

    Captions: Top: Children playing in the stairs in one of the buildings of the abandoned chocolate factory, on December 10, 2009 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. (Photo by Sebastian Liste/Reportage for Getty Images); Bottom: 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 public places. July 1st 2013. (Photo by Mehran Hamrahi)

    Photo by Sara Lewkowicz Photo by Sara Lewkowicz Photo by Sara Lewkowicz

    Interview with Sara Lewkowicz

    Reportage Emerging talent Sara Lewkowicz won last year’s Alexia Foundation student grant for her series “Shane and Maggie,” about a woman in an abusive relationship. A year later, the foundation asked Sara about the impact of the story and the public response.

    Alexia Foundation: Have your feelings on the situation and your response to it changed at all? Has distance given you any kind of wisdom in regard to the situation?

    Sara Lewkowicz: I think I’ve stopped feeling a need to defend myself or my actions. I’m at peace with the knowledge that I balanced my responsibility to call authorities and my responsibility to create a record of the kind of brutality that millions of people experience every day at the hands of a loved one. I was pretty clear fairly quickly on how I felt about my own actions, it was my desire to make other people understand the situation that ate at me; the feeling that I owed everyone something, an explanation, whatever you would like to call it.

    Maggie said something that put my mind at ease, once. She said to me, “I don’t have any problems with how you handled it, and I’m the only one whose opinion about that situation really matters, in the long run. So what do you care if someone who wasn’t even there is mad about it?”

    Read more on the Alexia Foundation’s blog.

    There’s only a few days left to apply for the Alexia Foundation Grants. The grants provide financial backing to photographers producing stories that drive change.

    Image: Dhaka – 27 February 2010: Slum dwellers collect the burnt remains of their houses after a fire. When fires occur, slum dwellers are not able to save or remove their belongings and they become homeless for many days. Image from Abir Abdullah’s 2013 winning professional portfolio.

    As Shane and Maggie continued to fight, Memphis ran into the room and refused to leave Maggie's side. (Photo by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz) A Bangladeshi injured worker is carried on a stretcher by fellow workers during a fire at a garment unit of Ha-Mim Group in Savar, Bangladesh, 14 December 2010. (Photo by Abir Abdullah) Lisa grabs a last smoke before entering the detox center. (Photo by Tim Matsui)

    The Alexia Foundation and The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications of Syracuse University will host a commemorative event on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 from 3.30-6.30pm at Newhouse to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Alexia Kathryn Tsairis, for whom The Alexia Foundation was named, was among the 35 Syracuse students and the 270 people killed in this horrible terrorist attack.

    In addition to a presentation by Alexia Foundation Chairman Mike Davis, the event will include two photo exhibitions with a reception in Newhouse One. Images from Tim Matsui, Abir Abdullah and Reportage Emerging Talent Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, the three most recent Alexia winners, will be on display in the atrium of Newhouse.

    Read more about the event on the Alexia Foundation’s blog.

    Due to be released in November, The Long Night explores the underworld of minor sex trafficking in Seattle. The film is a collaboration by Tim Matsui, Mediastorm, and the Alexia Foundation.

    “This isn’t a film with an agenda,” Matsui. “It’s a story about people facing circumstances that I cannot imagine having to deal with myself.”

    The moment I remember most [while photographing Duong] is the day I said goodbye and tried to explain why I wasn’t coming back any time soon. I remember his eyes just getting glassy, like he was looking a thousand miles away. The lights just sort of went out. I had to walk away and go back to the states.  I thought about that for years and years. It really had a profound effect on me and my relationships, or lack thereof, with the subjects in my photos.

    - Photographer and editor Michel Fortier in an interview with the Alexia Foundation, which sponsored his 1996 trip to Vietnam, where he photographed a homeless orphan named Duong who sold newspapers on the street by day and attended school at night. Michel is now the director of visuals at the Naples Daily News. Read more from his interview, and see more of his story about Duong, on the Alexia Foundation’s blog.

    Caption: A stranger pays the 30 cent fee for Duong and a few other street kids to ride on the merry-go-round. Pleasure soon turns to sadness, however, as Duong contemplates his past and present situation. (Photo by Michel Fortier/Alexia Foundation)

    She was scared, she said. Scared of being sick. And she loves getting high, she said. But she was hopeful. Afterwards? She didn’t see anything different for herself. She would still work the street, but maybe she’d be able to save all the money she spends on heroin.

    Leaving the Life" is a documentary project by Tim Matsui on grassroots efforts to address Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). This project is funded by the Alexa Foundation’s Women’s Initiative Grant. See more posts from this project here.

    Caption: Left, Lisa at the Genesis Project facility after being arrested for prostitution. Right, Lisa grabs a last smoke before entering the detox center. (Photos by Tim Matsui courtesy of Alexia Foundation)

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